Enrique Calvet Chambon is the delegate for the European economic and social committee
What function does the European economic and social committee have?
And what do you do in it?
It was created in the Treaty of Rome as an advisory body to the civil society to think about the major themes of the European construction. It has been reinforced by the various reforms of all the treaties, in particular, the last one in Lisbon.
There are some topics that inevitably the committee will have to see and render an opinion and possibly an initiative in any field, especially in the social area. It is composed of businessmen, trade unionists and what are called third activities (environmentalists, farmers, professional associations, chamber of commerce)
What was the old ECSC,when it was dissolves it had a series of structures and supports which are included as another section more than economic committee, which is called consultative commission on the restructuring of the industry. There is where I am and I am “monopolistically a defender of the interests of European fields, but also in many rulings that have to do with the crisis, with the funding, with the future of the social dialogue, loss of sovereignty of Europe, the future of the banking guidance, etc…
How is the future in Europe? And the Euro´s future?
The attempt to move toward greater European Union began with a series of steps and a single currency. Then the currency is created with too few political anchors and it has failed. It was like putting the carts in front of the oxen, which is an old French proverb. It has been allowed to enter countries which were known to not actually have no reliability.
If we are talking about the euro zone, there is the problem of Greece that was not important, that it would have been able to fix in 3 months with the intervention of the international monetary fund,(IMF) which European leaders saw that it did not do so well, in particular Mrs Merkel and that has affected many countries, And today in Spain because its financial system is dependent of the of the European financial system ,derived from Greece, although what has happened to Greece has not affected us directly ,it has ended with the fact that the Germans are infected and and then tighten many restrictions.
My prognosis, it seems to me and Mrs. Merkel has just said again, it is very reasonable to think that Greece cannot be maintained in the euro, but I don’t think that this is a catastrophe, unlike with other countries would be much worse. It would be intelligent especially now after the last elections, to prevent the suspension more orderly fashion as much as possible of Greece into the euro. I believe that in 2013 this will happen and the fact probably the euro can be maintain, if we save the hurdle in Spain which I think is savable, with a lot of sacrifice.
What is the problem of the two-party system countries?
Social democracy has a greater willingness to move toward a political Europe and the conservative party like the English and the German UDC(The Christian Democratic Union)have a greater willingness to leave it at the level of common market ,free movement rather than a political Europe. This is a bit the difference that there is but with nuances.
Where do you think the policy in Europe must go? More austerity or more growth?
It is a debate that is taking place now. Austerity is essential and will continue to be under any circumstances, but growth is becoming indispensable and it will also be in the future, I believe that there is no such dichotomy; the two things will have to live together.
There are countries such as Spain that can´t think about not to implement austerity, we owe money but to grow they have to give us money, Spain is a country that has grown on credit and lives on credit, but they don’t lend money. Then you say that you want grow but it has to be paid, it is the case of France, which has more autonomy and also Germany , even if Germany has a calendar to put rigor in the accounts because the debt overhang is excessive. And putting in jeopardy the euro, I believe that until Germany realizes that we need more dynamism, launch ,this is something that Europe are considering and there is a conscience in the European central bank about that , give a bit of optimism, without leaving the rigor, but creating dynamism. Now the relaunch that was indispensable will arrive.
Spain needs some activity, it would need that credit reach the companies and consumers and for that, you need a little bit of austerity, if such austerity is accompanied with a foreign financing of activities, will much better.
What do you think about the political measures that the governments, the committee and the central European bank have taken?
The Commission unfortunately doesn´t have much role here. One of the footpaths that unfortunately followed Europe was, I think when the treaties like Rome etc. …were created, it was born like an institution that was not originally foreseen, which is the European Council, but it is the Commission, it would be as a manager of Europe, but the Council is created as the meeting of sovereign states to share interests and without European point of view, however it is right now taking on all the decisions in this field.
The ECB has a difficult role, it is not doing wrong, for example the decision to provide for 3 years without limit to European banks is the key, if that’s had not been done a year ago more or less it would have been even worse and what the ECB did was good, and that is why, ECB is doing a little at the expense of weakening its own role. ECB is responsible of that the euro continues to have credibility and strength and is not doing badly within their difficulties.
We have returned to a recession and I think the ECB should be given the possibility to lend directly to states, although it is not their role, but the ECB must be able to finance specific projects to relaunch and multiply the initiatives to alleviate the ¨credict crunch¨, the total paralysis of credit that have some European countries have.
And for the rest of European authorities always in favor for more Europe, a more social Europe, to launch the growth and maintain an austerity socially sustainable. For example the reduction of the public deficit which this government in Spain has proposed in two years that has never been done in the history, what Europe asks from Spain it is not rational, it generates more frustration and mistrust.
Are adequated the economic measures of the Spanish government?
Are out of season, are incomplete and there is no direct plan, we have many structural problems, we should make a fiscal reform in depth and gives a confidence plan. It is a government that has discredited itself very quickly, Rajoy has lied, everything he said that he wouldn´t do, Merkel is what is forcing to do. In crisis situations, a measure that must be taken, is to explain the population where we are, which is going to require sacrifices, because, and have credibility when exposed.
What is your believe about the origin of this crisis of a big magnitude?
There are two international crises that have two origins:
The first is the financial system and in particular the financial system in the US, then ,that a financial system such as the American bursting, since immediately panic spread, because gone are the credits…
it has a second phase that is the sovereign debt in Europe, such as to meet the social needs of the countries, due to the crisis and the lack of movement of the credit and general impoverishment, to meet the social consequences, the seduced the government, already starts to lose confidence in the own debts of governments and in Europe means that you lose confidence in the euro, in the case of Spain has more unemployment and more debts by its own internal crisis.
There is a lot of hope place on Francois Hollande? Do you think he is going to do a good job?
Hollande is one of the 7 most brilliant students of the most prestige school since the age of Napoleon went is the most brilliant of the French entire elite. Then he is not going to do stupid things ,has been placed a lot of hope place in him, something that he has sought a little in his campaign, but he does not have his hands so free.
Hollande is going to try to take advantage of a new cycle that opens, where we will have to give it a little bit of dynamism in the economy, on everything he will take social measures, the first that has to be taken is a 30% reduction their salary and his ministers also. That, it seems to me pure demagogy, but in France you can do that, in Spain you cannot, because the salary of the ministers is ridiculous and that is also dangerous because it can lead to corruption.
Another measure, fuel prices have been blocked for 3 months, irrespective the price of oil in the world, to maintain the purchasing power, although it is only to give a good image. And another measure that seems to me to be very good, is an aid to the families with children below a certain level that is called ¨Helps the school year¨.
And all this is going to carry out the opposition or establish a particular war with Merkel, compromising the strength of Europe is only propaganda. Hollande will continue to respect to the axis Franco- German in the constitution of Europe and not going to break any deck of cards.
Thank you for your attention
By: Alejandra Rojo Ortego