A lire ci-dessous et à voir en vidéo, mon discours au Peterson Institute for International Economics, pronconcé ce jour à Washington, sur l’investissement et la croissance pour une nouvelle Union européenne.
A page turned: working for investment and growth in the new European Union
Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs
Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, D.C. 19 December 2014
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today at the Peterson Institute, at the conclusion of what has been a short but intense and productive visit to Washington for me.
I took up my role as European Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs just one-and-a-half months ago. And I was very keen to make my first visit to Washington as Commissioner before the end of the year.
Why so? Because I know there is real concern here about the economic situation in Europe.
I know there is a sense here that Europe has not done enough to put its house in order, has not been ambitious enough in reforming its economies, has been kicking the can down the road, or muddling through.
I am well aware of these perceptions, even if I do not necessarily agree with them. Let’s be honest, they are not surprising: the economic news coming out of Europe has been bleak these past few years, and particularly these past few months.
That’s precisely why I wanted to come to Washington as early as possible to set out the new European Commission’s economic strategy to people like Jack Lew, Janet Yellen and Christine Lagarde – all of whom I already knew well from my time as Finance Minister of France.
And I am delighted to have the opportunity to also set out that strategy here for you today.
My message to you is simple. We are addressing our economic challenges with renewed drive, vigour and determination.
President Juncker has said, and I have echoed the sentiment, that this is Europe’s last chance.
What do we mean by this? We mean that it is our last chance to make our young people once again see Europe as a source of economic opportunity, of social mobility, and of hope.
For my generation – for someone like me, born of Jewish parents who spent the first years of their lives in Romania and Poland, during an incomparably darker period of our continent’s history – Europe’s meaning is as profound as it is obvious.
By contrast, for most young Europeans today – and notwithstanding this year’s terrible developments in Ukraine – peace, stability and open societies are taken for granted.
Those young people look to the European Union instead to offer them economic growth, job opportunities, geographical and social mobility.
And many of them, after this long and painful crisis, are deeply disillusioned.
We could see this in the European Parliament elections last June, when populist forces and extremists of both left and right squeezed the pro-European parties, though fortunately they emerged with a clearly workable majority.
To halt and begin to reverse this tide, to rebuild confidence in the European project, we need to deliver the economic policy responses that our citizens are rightly demanding.
If we do not, the European Union risks losing the support of an entire generation.
The European economy is gradually emerging from the protracted crisis which began in 2007. As our Autumn Economic Forecast published last month indicated, the recovery remains fragile and vulnerable to external shocks. We need to act decisively in order to avert the risk of a period of stagnation marked by low growth, low inflation, high unemployment and high levels of inequality.
In short, we share the sense of urgency and the analysis conveyed by Mario Draghi in his Jackson Hole speech last summer.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My view of economic policy-making at the current juncture is that we have to think in terms of risk management and security margins. We cannot simply count on a spontaneous recovery which would, at best, be characterised by disappointingly low growth.
At the same time, we must not risk reversing one of the main achievements of the recent years: the stabilisation of the eurozone through credible fiscal consolidation and financial repair in a context of very high public and private debt.
Our challenge today is to kick-start economic growth in Europe, without reversing that stabilisation. In this context, let me underline two encouraging developments, which constitute the starting point upon which we have to build.
The first development is the comprehensive assessment of the eurozone banking system by the European Central Bank, and of the wider EU banking system under the coordination of the European Banking Authority. This has provided us with the clear picture of the soundness of the European banking system that is a precondition for a sustainable recovery in credit to the real economy and thus for investment and growth.
The second development is the fact that the aggregate fiscal stance in the eurozone is now broadly neutral. In other words, fiscal policy is neither being tightened nor loosened.
This reflects, in the Commission’s view, an appropriate balance between sustainability requirements and the current weak cyclical conditions.
Now, it will not have escaped your attention that the eurozone is some way from being a fiscal union (we may need a little more time on that one). As such, maintaining a neutral fiscal stance in the eurozone as a whole, while some Member States are being called on to increase their efforts to comply with the Stability and Growth Pact, implies a degree of fiscal support coming from the exploitation of the fiscal space available in other Member States.
So how does the Commission see the way forward for the European economy? To move decisively into a phase of strong, sustainable recovery, we need to work in parallel on three fronts:
- boosting investment,
- accelerating structural reforms,
- promoting fiscal responsibility through growth-friendly fiscal consolidation
Let me take you through these three priorities in that order.