Good and bad news for Europe over this weekend: a 2/3 majority of members of the German social democratic party SPD have finally voted in favor of seeing their party entering again into a coalition government with the Christian-democrats. Although not the first choice after the bad electoral result and a daring for the party, it is overall good news as the coalition agreement has put Europe at the top of their agenda. The French President has now an interlocutor for a reform process and the political stability will no longer be defined solely by the arbitrary debts indicators of the stability and growth pact. FTT and taxing the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple) are on the agenda as is also to push for a framework for minimum wages. The Social Union based on social rights, equal pay for equal work is also common ground for this pact. Now it is time to translate these intentions into policy by a government that will carry-on the EU-Presidency in the second half of 2020. From a European perspective, this can only be welcome by taking into account that although Europe is on the top of the coalition agreement, while it wasn’t on top of the agenda in the debate of pros and cons.
The less good news comes from Italy where the protest vote seems to be the main factor in this electoral results. Mistrust in elites as well as in the state and his institutions in general is coupled with the fear factor in uncertain times. When we regret that Euroscepticism is on the rise in Italy we should be aware that the European migration policy leaves Italy, like Greece and Spain, alone. The comfort zone provided by the Dublin agreement to some more northern member states who are not on the Mediterranean Sea makes that Italy is absorbing the great wave of migration. In spite of generous humanitarian principles we defend, the reality on the ground is not easy as integration needs an enormous amount of investment. If this is not better-managed racism and xenophobia will continue to increase. The dirty past of “Il cavaliere” is only matter of collective amnesia for the demos.
In the initiative of the EESC discussed last week in Athens near the Acropolis, The future of democracy in the EU. There was a general understanding that the future shall not only be about institutional reforms at first hand but about delivery on promises, in particular on social and territorial cohesion. If this is misunderstood by those who continue to preach internal market, competitiveness, and competition even a stable government in Germany might not be able to make it. The extreme right has lost electoral battles in France and in the Netherlands, but this defeat might only be temporary as Italy shows that their ideas seem to continue to attract those who feel the risk of losing it all. In this understanding, the MMF choices are much more than budgetary matters. Not tutto bene at all!
This editorial appeared in the Weekly Round Up of 5th March 2018