Europe is facing a deep identity, social and economic crisis. Unemployment is rising, companies are closing and social tension is posing a big threat to the Union. While the ongoing financial turmoil in the eurozone has drawn attention mainly to the public debt sustainability, hampering the development of growth-enhancing structural reforms, the EU has been losing market shares on a global level, undermining long-term development prospects. Despite European leaders’ efforts to redefine the settings and rules, EU politics continue to be dominated by short-term considerations and national interests.
Thus, what we really need to be more competitive globally is the creation of a European industry: a strong, diversified and competitive industrial sector. It would be a source of growth and jobs, and a driver of innovation. Industry’s competitiveness and productivity should return to centre stage in EU policies.
We have to adopt a harmonized labour law, to define a common wage policy primarily based on workers’ productivity and to modernize the dialogue between the education sector and industries. We need to refocus funding from the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 on growth, minimize regulatory burdens for enterprises and avoid big differences in terms of costs and access to the factors of production within the single market.
We must envisage the settlement of a de minimis common tax policy strategy and encourage private capital investments, ensuring that the European Central Bank and other European banks’ financing goes to the real economy.
And, since unemployment disproportionally affects the younger generation and erodes their autonomy, dignity, future working and social expectations, we have to rethink the role of young people as leading figures of a developing Europe and as crucial actors of strategies to overcome the crisis. Young people could be the principal agents during the change process. They have energy, passion, ideas, self-confidence, knowledge, and a global vision, which are the main values to create employment, to unleash the full potential of the European single market and consequently to promote growth in Europe.
In other words, the delays we have been recording in the past decades can be filled only if we replace the incremental reforms with a bigger jump, boosting the concept of integration. If we want to avoid conflict and crisis, from an economic and financial point of view, we need a radical shift in perspective: we need to build the United States of Europe. Starting now.
Author: Jacopo Morelli is National President of the Confederation of Italian Industries – Young Entrepreneurs in Rome, Italy.
Image: European Union member states’ flags fly in front of the building of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler