Martin Callanan MEP: Speech in a debate on the outcome of the February 2012 EU summit

Feb 14, 2012


There seems to be some agreement in this House today that even if the fiscal compact is adopted and ratified – far from a foregone conclusion – it will do nothing solve the current crisis.

As a fiscal conservative, I should of course be delighted that we are enshrining fiscal discipline and balanced budgets within national laws and constitutions.

However, as a Democrat, what greatly concerns me is that an electorate’s ability to vote for a high spending Keynesian economic policy is effectively being removed from them. We are making Socialism illegal!

This pact is effectively rendering all elections null and void across much of Europe.

So let me say this, as a free-market conservative who finds much to admire in the German model of fiscal and monetary discipline. We can’t impose our vision by force of law. We need to use force of argument.

We need to show that austerity is not forever, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. But as long as we cut off the possibility of a country leaving the euro, we block that tunnel. We condemn countries to years of deflation, poverty and emigration with no end in sight. Recovery won’t come to the southern countries until they are free to reissue their own currencies and price their way back into the market.

Nor can we preach austerity to them unless we practise it ourselves. Imagine how a European summit, with its banquets and motorcycle outriders and armies of hangers on, must look to a public sector worker who faces redundancy because of government cuts. Imagine how taxpayers in our home countries feel when every pound or euro saved in domestic spending is swallowed up by higher contributions to the EU budget.

My group makes no apologies for being single minded about the single market and we will continue to pursue this agenda of creating a digital single market, further extending services, and reviewing procurement rules to encourage innovation. We will also continue to push for better implementation of existing Single Market rules.

And of course, opening the Single Market would be pointless unless we also continue to open our markets to the rest of the world – the parts of the world, that is, where the growth still is.

Many of these actions are for the medium to long term. But there is one action that we could take right here, right now to show businesses our commitment to growth. Surely one of the best ways for the EU to speed up growth is to scrap the Employment and Social Affairs directorate in the commission, and repatriate its responsibilities to national governments. Then we could scrap the Working Time Directive, the Agency Workers’ Directive, the Pregnant Workers’ Directive and the other barriers to actually employing people.

We can’t create jobs by talking about them, or passing resolutions. In fact, we – we Eurocrats and MEPs – can’t create jobs at all. What we can do is get out of the way and allow entrepreneurs to invent things, make things, sell things. That’s where employment growth comes from. And that’s where social security comes from too: there is no surer antidote to poverty than secure employment.

When I was a new MEP, we had just signed up to something called the Lisbon Agenda, which was supposed to make Europe the most dynamic, knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. As Sarah Palin might put it: How’s that working out for you?