Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Sharon Bowles MEP e-News: The EU Summit Fallout

Welcome to this early edition of my December e-News!

In normal months, this e-Newsletter will be published on the last day of the month, but with Christmas coming this weekend and the economic situation still changing so fast, I did not want to wait until New Year’s Eve to send you this month’s news!

Fallout from the European Summit: what it all means

The EU summit took place against a background of national individualism: Germany´s Merkel feeling obliged to say no to the transferring of money from one country to another, and holding out against the European Central Bank printing money; France´s Sarkozy showing he is not relinquishing control to Brussels or Berlin by pursuing intergovernmentalism; and the UK opening up past arguments and current legislative issues in an inappropriate forum, packaging it as “defence of the City”.

This is ironic considering the UK is actually busier than the rest of the EU tightening its regulation to protect themselves and taxpayers from the worst effects of the City. This misguided attitude led to a needless veto. 

There is no worse time for the UK to have walked away from the European negotiating table, when the key item was saving the Euro. The UK´s “veto” has made the summit result harder to deliver, and less integrated with the very same European institutions that the UK will itself be relying on to ensure fair play for the single market. Together the Commission, Council and Parliament will mitigate this effect as we work out the legislative paths. This work has already started in my committee.

This summit result is also a wake-up call for the UK: only those who want to leave the EU have reason to celebrate, an outcome which would be disastrous for the economy as many business leaders are now also saying. With one in ten jobs linked to the EU it is astonishing that this view does not get wider exposure.

Amid the fallout, we should reflect on the point that we care enough to be angry – this is not how Europe is supposed to work; this is not where the UK should be in relation to its largest trading partners. We must use that anger and alarm, coming from many sides, for getting the UK properly back in the EU or we will all be worse off. Let us look beyond silly rhetoric of ‘defending the City’ to the common cause of tighter, better financial regulation, and promoting jobs and growth by strengthening the single market, of which financial services is an integral part.

Saving the Euro:
There are essentially two branches to the solutions we seek. One is making sure there are stronger mechanisms to prevent a repeat of poor budgetary control. So far the success story here is the agreement on stronger rules and surveillance for budgetary discipline in the Eurozone, some of which is already in force.

Then there is dealing with debt and providing alternative routes for financing when countries cannot borrow in the markets at reasonable levels. The bailouts have been successful for the smaller countries, but a mistake was made in forcing private sector bondholders (like banks) to take a loss on their investments. In one way such losses seem morally appropriate, rather like letting Lehman’s go bust, and just like that experiment the backlash has been disproportionately large, dragging Italy and Spain into the problem.

This is why those who suggest we should ‘let the Euro go’ should be careful what they wish for, the consequences would be enormous and beyond our current comprehension!

So, progress has been made, but forward momentum is still needed especially on debt sustainability and growth.

This month I have met with:

Mario Draghi, the new President of the European Central Bank (ECB), to discuss the role the ECB can take in the recovery of the Eurozone crisis.

Jacek Rostowski, the Polish Finance Minister and President of ECOFIN, to review the Polish Presidency of the European Union and to conclude on important financial legislative dossiers.

Nicolai Wammen, the Danish Minister for European Affairs, to discuss the work of ECON ahead of the Danish Presidency of the European Union.

And many others!

Merry Christmas

2011 has been another extraordinary year for me in the European Parliament. The Eurozone crisis has meant that the Economic and Monetary Affairs Parliamentary Committee, which I Chair, has taken on many times the normal amount of work in efforts to save the Euro and control the fallout.

I have spent any spare time in Brussels in meetings or being chased by the media for interviews! I have regularly appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme, World at One, PM Programme and Radio 5Live, as well as television appearances on BBC’s Newsnight, Daily Politics, and Sky News. Then there are all the other EU Countries after me too!I am getting quite used to being quizzed about economic policy from 5am to midnight! If you have missed my interviews and would like to watch or listen to some, my staff diligently keep links to them on my website.

Despite my busy Brussels schedule, throughout this year I have enjoyed meeting with many of my constituents, businesses and fellow Liberal Democrat campaigners. Sadly there isn’t room to name them all here, but I have especially enjoyed visits to GE Aviation, Formula One team Lotus Renault GP and to Dorney Lake to see preparation for the Olympic rowing events.

I also managed to take some time out from Brussels in the Spring to get around the constituency to campaign for the AV Referendum and local elections.  As always, I was inspired by the teams I met and I am grateful for the warm welcomes I received. I am looking forward to seeing many more of you in the coming year.

I hope you enjoy your Christmas and New Year celebrations, and my very best wishes for 2012!

This month I have also:

Condemned David Cameron’s mishandling of the EU summit
Spoken out against child slavery in Uzbekistan
Voted to make smoothies clearer about their contents
Freed small firms from heavy accounting red tape
Said that non-financial companies should not be deemed “too big to fail”

The next edition is due out on January 31st. Until then, visit my website for updates!