September 12, 2013
President’s Barroso annual speech over the current situation of the European Union, the so-called State of the Union, offered nothing new in the debate over the future of the Union. No fresh ideas, no concerns over austerity politics, no realism in the analysis, but above all no self-criticism over the management of overdebtedness and economic crisis in Europe. It goes without saying that Mr. Barroso is a good diplomat and a-not-too-good politician, but someone could expect from this last speech a sort of pioneering. All expectations went in vain.
Is this a certain strategy by himself or a complete ignorance of the wrongdoings of the Commission?
I followed Mr. Barroso’s speech word by word hoping that he would come into some specific conclusions or some self-criticism regarding the wrongdoings of the European Commission and the mismanagement of the economic crisis. To be sincere, I do understand that the European Union and the Commission might have be mistaken in the handling of overdebted economies and, to some point, these mistakes in prediction and implementation are comprehensible. But from that point to the point that there was no mention to any other alternatives except for austerity, I have to admit that I felt deeply disappointed.
The biggest part of his speech was focused on the need for the European Union to be transformed into a federal union of nation states, and the demand for new sources of finance, including the so-called “project funds”, to fund the EU infrastructure. Other than vague statements and hopes -even if there were passionately addressed- Mr. Barroso’s speech offered nothing important to the debate over the future of Europe. This estimation is even more rigorous considering the chaotic situation and atmosphere of the Union and the fragmentation of Eurogroup over the possible new bailout plan for Greece and the development of other “hot cases”, as for instance Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, or even the downturn of the host of 2013 Eurobasket, Slovenia, which is getting prepared for financial assistance after serious detour in budget predictions.
Let me here remind to all of us that Mr.Barroso was indeed one of the major and focal figures during the assessment period of the Greek finances between 2004-07, the period during which according to official stats the Greek public debt reached its worst performance. The visits of Mr. Barroso were at that time quite frequent in capital Athens, but despite the close overlook of the economic performance of the country, no preventive measures nor official warnings were made publicly. In the contrary, as Greece’s economy was falling into arrears, Mr. Barroso had nothing to say other than supporting the prodigal management of the finances by the Greek government. Six years later, and with Greece being in such a desperate situation, Mr. Barroso had nothing to offer against the economic crisis nor to propose in order to efficiently address this issue.
I definitely believe that the European Commission, along with the Greek governments, is equally responsible for the current economic and budgetary disaster. But after all, it is no more Greece itself, but a series of countries that incur the same risk of collapse. Therefore, why, even in the last minute, Mr. Barroso did not acknowledge his mistakes and failure to address the crisis, even after the first wrong estimations and management?
To conclude with, it is more than obvious that Mr. Barroso’s speech was looking like of someone who had no interference nor responsibility for all things happened during the last six years. In the contrary, his speech was of someone who might look like potential candidate for the head of the European Commission. If this is the case, let us all salute him as the next candidate!Dimitris Rapidis