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Last Updated:[09-05-2010 23:23:55 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Greece a Lesson for Blocs Aim to Emulate EU

tradenews Greece crisis must be termed as a discouraging event for blocs from Latin America and the Gulf which are essaying to toe the line of the EU to form unions with single currency and similar governance strategies. Nevertheless, the unpleasant situation is not without its silver lining, it allows the fledgling blocs ample time to study what went wrong and how to overcome such scenarios.

Whether the EU saves itself from present crisis or not, there are many things to be absorbed by the new unions in the making much before taking the plunge.

Primarily the alert system, deliberated by the EU to give powers to the parent body to 'semi-audit' tasks to monitor budget discipline not only of national governments but also of regional and local bodies, would ensure better transparency. This could prevent governments from hiding grey areas of decentralised budget appropriations, which was partly the case with Greece that stands accused of having lied about its accounts for years.

Besides, periodical evaluation of state affairs including politics based on ground realities and pre-set stitch in time solutions should be in place to ward off the dangers of any of the member-state getting weakened beyond manageable proportions. Projections and goals have to be marked by success failing which should attract stringent punitive measures; something that Brussels is planning to impose on members whose public debt is running out of control.

Furthermore, the member-states should make constant efforts to bring down their debts, which have been proven possible by countries like Belgium and the UK in the past. Before the global meltdown, Belgium managed to reduce its debt to 84.2 percent of GDP in 2007, down from a peak of more than 130 percent in the early 1990s. Likewise, the UK had a debt peak of 300 percent of its GDP after the Second World War, which had been gradually reduced to 33 percent by 1990.

There is also much to be imbibed from the off-target response such as 'Europe 2020', which is looked at sceptically by the Eastern EU members and criticized by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for contrasting reasons. The objectives of 'Europe 2020' include fight against poverty, increase in education and employment rate.

The proposal unveiled by the European Commission in March highlighted on poverty alleviation calling for reduction in the number of Europeans living below the poverty line by 25 percent, lifting 20mn out of poverty from the current 80mn. However, such policies with progressive milestones should be included right from the beginning and should be modified time to time with 'proper' budgetary allocation.

The EU's new strategy for sustainable growth and jobs, 'Europe 2020', comes in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades. The new strategy replaces the Lisbon Agenda, adopted in 2000, which largely failed to turn the EU into "the world's most dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010." Nonetheless, the new proposal puts innovation and green growth at the heart of its blueprint for competitiveness and proposes tighter monitoring of national reform programmes, one of the greatest weaknesses of the Lisbon Strategy.

By Jose Roy

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