Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Paris Declaration

Last week's European Green Congress saw the agreement of The Paris Declaration - a twelve point plan to "step out of the current financial, social and economic crisis affecting Europe, and a roadmap for the refounding of the European project". The UK Greens abstained from the backing the declaration which was probably the right thing to do, especially given our opposition to the Eurozone, but there are some good concepts within the 12 point plan:
  1. Make the Greek debt-burden sustainable;
  2. Make the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) (and future ESM) an effective backstop;
  3. Recapitalise the European banks;
  4. Rebalancing the austerity-only approach;
  5. Strongly re-regulate Europe’s finance industry;
  6. Develop a comprehensive European tax strategy, including active fight against tax evasion and limiting avenues for tax avoidance;
  7. Establish a European Monetary Fund;
  8. Make the macro-economic surveillance framework operational and more balanced;
  9. Make the EU budget an instrument of economic policy, which will create a strong and relevant European Treasury.
  10. Launch a Green New Deal for Europe including:
    • Putting the EU2020 targets on an equal footing with the stability and growth, and financial targets;
    • More effective pricing of CO2 through a move to a 30% GHG emissions cut by 2020;
    • Imposition of carbon stress tests to financial institutions, the introduction of climate risk as systemic risk into legislation, the promotion of green indices that indexed-based funds can refer to, the development of green banking, with tax incentives where appropriate;
    • allowing the EIB to issue green bonds in order to foster green investments; Mandating public pension funds and incentivising private pension funds to allocate a proportion of their portfolio to green investments and companies.
    • Mandating public pension funds and incentivising private pension funds to allocate a proportion of their portfolio to green investments and companies.
    • Implement an energy transition to renewable energies, out of nuclear and fossil-fuels.
  11. Co-decide key economic policy guidelines;
  12. A Convention for a new Europe. 
A strong plan seems to be what the EU needs, but the pro-Euro European Greens are quite at odds with us  in England and Wales, and they don't seem to understand the damage that the Eurozone does to weaker economies. I think that they need to rethink just what benefit they get from the Euro and consider carefully the disbenefit of not having firewalls between currencies.

Picking up on the 12 point plan, my thoughts:
  1. The sentiment is right, but the language is wrong. Debt-burden is the wrong way to consider the debt. If society wants money, then it needs debt (as money is debt). The key is to ensure that debt is not a burden rather than getting rid of debt per se.
  2. Fine, as long as it works for sound ecological and social principles and not for the benefit of the rich elite.
  3. Hmm... we need banks but let's make them smaller and able to fail if they screw up.
  4. Absolutely!
  5. Ditto
  6. Ditto again, but European wide taxes should be limited to carbon and financial transactions (which in the 12 point plan they are)
  7. Same as 2.
  8. Yup
  9. Not keen. Bit too centrist but then you need one if you want 6.
  10. Happy with the Green New Deal but realistically overall economic growth is unlike in the medium and long term. There should be explicit statements about sector growth.
  11. As 9 - too centrist
  12. Possibly as we clearly need to revise the treaties but we also need to avoid further centralisation and ensure that democracy flows upwards from people and communities.

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