A first glance at the European Union in 2013…

by Anta Bello
January of 2013 begun with the application of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in Economic and Monetary Union (also known as “fiscal compact”), after its confirmation by the 12 members which participate in it. The objective of the Treaty is the enforcement of the fiscal discipline in Eurozone through the policy of “balance budget rule” and the auto correction mechanism. In January, another eighteen months group chair of the Council of European Union (EU) begun, in which three small countries of EU participate (Ireland – Lithuania – Greece), i.e. our country included.
Ireland is the first country in EU integrated in a fiscal program, which assumes the Chairmanship of the European Council, with a good performance as its return in the markets is expected to take place in the following year. The main priorities of the Irish Council, is the creation of new jobs and the confrontation of crisis in Europe, with the majority of the leaders of the political groups European Parliament, believing that the experience of Dublin in crisis will be vital for the whole Europe.
Greece is the second country enrolled in a fiscal program that will claims the Chairmanship of the European Council, in the first semester of 2014. Due to the particularities of the occasion, the lights are set on how three so “sensitive” countries will confront the challenges yielded by the eighteen month Chairmanship of the European Council (in accordance to the roadmap decided by the European Council in December 2012, for the Completion of the Economic and Monetary Union) through the protection net provided by the newly established institution of the Chairman of European Council.
In January 2013 not only the 50 years anniversary of the Reconciliation Treaty between France and Germany (1/22/1963) took place, but also the speech of English Prime Minister David Cameron (1/16/2013) for the renegotiation of the position of Britain in EU and the actualization of referendum. This referendum is not expected until the end of the eighteen-month Joint Presidency, but after the National Elections in 2015. Regarding the Franco-German duo, most columnists claimed that after the end of the Cold War the initial idea about “a strong in external policy” France, and “a maybe political dwarf but an economic giant” Germany is lost.
As Daniel Gros supports in his recent comment in CEPS, the Franco-German duo may not lead Europe anymore, as it used to do in the European Union of six, but it still has the major role in it. When France and Germany argue, a group of countries teams up with either side (as it happened in the discussions about the Multiannual Financial Framework in November 2012). Now France represents the interests of a group of countries that demands more solidarity, but German stands, apart from their own interests, for the interests of countries calling for adjustments. According to the Director of CEPS, nowadays in order for reconciliation to exist, both sides will have to let go a bigger part of their European leadership.
During the harsh times of 2013, in handling the European crisis, both the European institutions (such as the Chairmanship of European Council and the Chairman of European Council) and pragmatism and the determination of the leadership of the “Great” of Europe (France-Germany-United Kingdom), vital ingredients of the European Integration, will be judged.

Anta Bello is a graduate student from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. During her studies she composed her graduation project, titled  "The economic governance in Europe in the light of the current financial crisis". Her interests are connected to issues of European Integration, International Relations and Political Economy.

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