Tourism & Culture

How Relevant That Meeting with Delors Is Today

January 2024
By Gianni Pittella

Thanks to my former political advisor Francesco Ronchi, I have rediscovered the Account of the meeting with Jacques Delors, who recently passed away, held at the Notre Europe Foundation in Paris on June 11, 2010.

In the excerpts that follow, the relevance of the thoughts of one of the fathers of Europe emerges!

Pittella expresses his concern about the social and economic effects that the financial crisis is producing on Europe. Specifically, he articulates his doubts regarding the adoption of exclusively restrictive fiscal policies. Indeed, the risk of a unilateral season of “tears and blood” looms. In this sense, he recalls having proposed, on several occasions, the issuance of euro-bonds capable of financing policies to relaunch the economy at a European level.

Jacques Delors declares that he agrees with Pittella’s vision.

The crisis in Europe is now laid bare by the financial crisis.

In this regard, Delors notes that it must be acknowledged that, since the introduction of the Euro, there has been a construction flaw: the monetary part of Europe was well executed, while the economic part was insufficient. In other words, the Euro was functioning on one leg. Now, it’s necessary to strengthen the economic leg.

Delors is generally in favor of the idea of dedicating a semester to the analysis of state budgets.

However, according to Delors, it is important that this leads to a more effective European coordination. The Greek crisis arises mainly from a defect in European coordination at the European level and not simply from the high Greek public debt.

For this European coordination at the economic level to become a reality, it is important to distinguish the two levels: the Europe of 16 and that of 27.

It is not possible to meet on Monday with 16 countries and make certain decisions – states Delors – and then meet on Tuesday with 27 countries to discuss the same issues.

We are also witnessing an even more dangerous operation: the Anglo-Saxons are trying to sink the Euro and with it the entire project of European construction.

Behind the Anglo-Saxon hostility, a cultural problem emerges: they are not capable of thinking of any solution beyond the model of the nation-state, as in the English case, or the federal model as in the American case. The European Union, on the other hand, is an intermediate solution between these two models, “third,” and for this reason, the Anglo-Saxons want to sabotage it.

But – Delors asks – what would the sinking of this European Union lead to?

It certainly would not increase the necessary cooperation to face current problems.

There is – Delors denounces – a very serious offensive from the Anglo-Saxon world that risks having dramatic effects. It would indeed be a mistake to think that the crisis is over. On the contrary, there are signals that tell us it could explode again, in fact, it may be starting to explode again. Just look at the record deposits by European banks at the ECB in recent days.

Banks prefer to deposit their liquidity in deposit facilities at the ECB, remunerated at a lower, but safer, interest rate than what they could obtain if they lent to other banks. This way, liquidity in the interbank market is reduced, and this can fuel a new crisis.

The virulence of the offensive against the Euro requires 3 moves, according to Delors:

1) fight against financial speculation.

2) Adopt financial market regulation measures. On this point, it’s important to clarify: even if a worldwide agreement is not found, Europe should not give up such regulation and should apply it autonomously.

3) Pursue an economic policy that does not undermine growth but takes into account the social aspect.

Pittella agrees with Delors and recalls the importance of the community method, too often forgotten. Pittella adds that a strong political will to relaunch this method is needed.

Delors agrees and cites the example of the failure of the Copenhagen summit. While in terms of trade policy, there is a single European voice, albeit with all the limitations and difficulties we know, at the level of climate policies, each State speaks with its own voice. The result – adds the former Commission President – we saw in Copenhagen: European countries were completely marginalized.

In the face of this decline of Europe, it is not so much a question of “what to do”, but rather “how to do it”, and in this sense, the relaunch of the community method is crucial.

In this bleak scenario, for Delors, there is however a positive element: the role of the European Parliament which is increasingly configured as a space of pluralism.

The activism of the Parliament in this sense is very important. The case of the Bolkestein Directive can be taken as an example. In this case, thanks to the Parliament, it was possible to reconcile the principle of freedom to provide services with the protection of social interests.

For Jacques Delors, the Franco-German axis has lost its driving force. However, even compared to the past, the contribution of the Paris-Berlin couple should not be overestimated. Delors recalls that, when he was head of the Commission, he often found himself squeezed between the positions of France and Germany, of Kohl and Mitterrand. However, he could count on the fundamental support of other countries. The historical role of Italy and the Benelux in the process of European construction should be re-evaluated. Delors mentions the Italian contribution, particularly that of the Craxi government which played a fundamental role in the relaunch of Europe thanks to the European Council of Milan in 1985 which approved the Commission’s White Paper on the completion of the internal market, and that of the Andreotti government which, in December 1990, at the European Council, initiated the two intergovernmental conferences on Economic and Monetary Union and Political Union.

Pittella highlights the end of great Europeanist leaderships. After Jacques Delors, it seems difficult to identify charismatic leaders capable of involving national public opinions in the European construction process. Today, Europe alone does not make it. We need to find new ways, change the way of doing politics so that citizens, especially young people, can engage in the battle for Europe.

Jacques Delors shares Pittella’s diagnosis and assesses that, indeed, today there is a deficit of popular participation in the European construction process.