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Cost of non-Europe

Key points:

  • The EESC welcomes the fact that, a quarter of a century after the publication of the Cecchini report in 1988, the Commission and the European Parliament have reopened the debate on the cost of non-Europe. However, the way these two institutions have elected to address the matter, i.e. by calculating once again the potential economic impact of removing barriers to trade, is inadequate, partly because of the danger of getting caught up in a purely technical debate on the costs of non-Europe, and partly because circumstances have changed completely since the Cecchini report was written. Today the state of the single market is no longer the core of the non-Europe debate.
  • The opinion is therefore based on the realisation that the handicap beleaguering Europe now is not so much delays in building its internal market as the need to establish a strong economic, industrial and technological identity in the context of globalisation. The EESC believes that discussion therefore needs to consider all the costs of non-Europe resulting from the failure to complete European integration.
  • The approach advocated in the opinion seeks to reduce costs, optimise expenditure, maximise opportunities and provide an appropriate response for meeting current challenges and finding a positive way out of the crisis which will benefit everyone.
  • The EESC therefore calls on the Commission first to make as exact an estimate as possible of the full set of costs of non-Europe in the areas outlined in this opinion – namely the absence of real economic union and pooled costs in the areas of defence, diplomacy, customs, border guards, civil protection, combating fraud, etc. – and of their impact on employment and growth.
  • The opinion also covers taxation, an area dominated by fiscal competition between the Member States with no common framework for social European interests, where it is necessary to envisage a structured framework for the convergence of national social, energy and even R&D policies.
  • As a second step, the EESC proposes that the EU 2020 strategy include calculated objectives for reducing these costs accompanied by a clear action plan and a systematic evaluation of its progress.

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