On our European mismatches

Wednesday, 9. May 2012     0 comment(s)
Hanna Ojanen
Visiting Researcher - The European Union research programme
On our European mismatches

Robert Schuman in his declaration of 9 May 1950 said “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.”

No doubt about that. Then why are we where we are today, 9 May 2012, in a growing economic, political and social imbroglio? Are we too much in favour of a one-size-fits-all plan, one single plan, for us all? Or are we not achieving enough in concrete terms or unable to highlight the achievements that are there?

I see three daunting mismatches impeding our getting anywhere far from where we now are.

First, there is a mismatch of space, between economic space and political space. We do elect new governments for our countries hoping for them to fix our economic problems. But they are not in charge, or they are not capable of having influence. A large extent of our so-called ‘national‘ economy no longer is national.

Second, there is a mismatch of time. It shows in two ways. There is a mismatch between how long it takes to get your economy on its feet again, and how long the decision-makers and the voters can wait. Everything should happen quickly and the time of politics tends even to accelerate. Today’s political landscape is more and more volatile. New political groupings pop up, as we have seen lately in Greece and Italy, and in the course of only months, if not weeks, these become elected in parliaments and become potential candidates for building governments. The next day they are expected to deliver.

Finally, there is the mismatch between how long the consequences of fixing the problem will be felt. A huge sum of money at the right moment might indeed save banks, save governments and save faces, even rather quickly. Equally well drastic austerity measures could speedily clean the statistics. But for individual citizens who in that process have first lost their jobs and then their homes, it might take much longer to get back on their feet again.

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