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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Otmar Issing: EU will only live up to expectations when tendency toward centralisation and bureaucratisation resisted

This post is part of a series of interviews carried out by our sister organization, Open Europe Berlin. To read the original interview between Otmar Issing, the former Chief Economist of the European Central Bank, and Open Europe Berlin in German click here.

Otmar Issing addresses the audience at the Open Europe Berlin launch, Oct.2012
OEB: What does Europe mean to you?

Issing: Following the terrible wars and dictatorships of the past, for me, Europe means a continent of peace and freedom.  The freedom to travel, and particularly for young people -- to learn, study, and to make friends beyond national borders. The single market, a barrier-free market serving over 500 million people, is the economic dimension, and the prerequisite for prosperity and employment in Europe. 

OEB: What does the European Union mean to you?

Issing: The European Union embodies the institutional structures, which preserve the aforementioned achievements.  The European Union will live up to expectations only when the tendency towards centralisation and bureaucratisation are resisted. 

What does the euro, the shared currency, mean to you?

Issing:The euro represents a promise of a stable currency to the citizens of the euro area.  During the first 14 years of the euro, the central bank fulfilled this promise by way of its obligatory price stability policy.  However, the existing economic policies of many countries continue to be contradictory to [the ECB's] policy, which is absolutely necessary to the guarantee of long-term stability for the euro and the eurozone. 

"If the euro fails, then Europe fails!" To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?  

Issing: Europe is far more than the euro. It is more than currency and economy. But a collapse of the euro, which I consider rather unlikely, would indeed cause considerable economic and political turbulence and it would set European integration back. 

'More Europe' in which form of the EU? In which policy areas should the European Union (a) do more; (b) change its practice; or (c) do less? 

Issing: ‘More Europe’ is a mantra, which in my opinion, lacks concrete content and easily leads to the misguided adoption of ever further centralization.  Should the EU wish to realize its aspiration of becoming the leading voice for Europe on the global stage then it must:
  • Create the preconditions for growth and employment;
  • Encourage the individual member states to take responsibility for the implementation of necessary reforms;
  • Accommodate the principle of subsidiarity, rather than continuing to shift competencies to the European level. 


Anonymous said...

Planet Zog calling Otmar Issing, are you there?

Not one mention of democracy or the wish of the people or even the TRUTH! It hasn't worked!

Still, at least he gets his gravy-train pension and perks - and career path for saying all of the right things.

Q : What do we get?
A : Just one disaster after another and no way to change things.


Denis Cooper said...

"Accommodate the principle of subsidiarity, rather than continuing to shift competencies to the European level."

Once again, I don't want the insulting sop of "subsidiarity", I want the UK government and by extension the UK Parliament to have a veto on every EU proposal.

Then if they wished they could still claim that under the treaties the EU had the competence to do something; but we could veto it anyway without even bothering to argue that point, let alone running off in a probably fruitless quest to the ECJ.

The UK must be able to exercise a national veto on all EU proposals, simple, nothing less will do.

jon livesey said...

One thing never changes about the EU. It's always about aspirations and the future. No-one ever seems to stop and say "How have things turned out?"

Since the EU was founded, Europe has gone form a routine 5% annual growth rate, effectively full employment and balanced budgets, to 0-1% growth, persistent 10%+ unemployment and persistent deficits and rising debt.

It all reminds me of the joke about the Philosopher who said "I can see it does not work in practice, but I remain confident that it works in theory." Or was that Will Hutton?

Average Englishman said...

So; the glorious EU is the only way to ensure peace and freedom for the people of Europe and without our beloved masters in Brussels we would all start World War III? Oh, unless your Turkish of course, because er, er, er, because your Turkish and you aren't really European so your can't join.

How on earth has Canada managed to avoid a war with the USA all these years and what about those states of the USA that now have more autonomy than supposed national governments in Europe; why no rebellion?

Let's get this straight:-

1) There will be no long term peace without democratic freedom for every individual in Europe; a straight jacket for one's own good is just not acceptable. The EUSSR system will ultimately fail in a big way, just the same as the original USSR model did. Nation states can get on just fine without Big Brother EU telling them what to do thank you.

2) There is no freedom in unemployment and poor economic performance due to crass 'one size fits all' EU policies such as the Euro. I am amazed that the people of Greece and Spain amongst others have not taken up arms yet (there's still time though).

Let's forget the crass theories of how to manufacture a superstate and look at what works and what doesn't. What will work is free trade and the Common Market that was originally sold to the UK voter back in 1975, plus 150 years of joint trade and fellowship. What evidently does not work is the undemocratic 'we know best because we're really clever and you're not' commissars in Brussels telling everyone else what to do. Top down management of this sort hobbles along in the short term and fails badly in the long term.

Dream on Mr. Issing, dream on.

Denis Cooper said...

I'm rather surprised that Open Europe has published the obvious spam from "Richard Skinner".

Open Europe blog team said...

@Denis Cooper - thanks for flagging up. We've deleted it.

Anonymous said...

So OEB asked questions and got the same tired old nonsense, not really worth posting was it?