EU makes us stronger to tackle recession

THE sharp fall into economic recession has highlighted dramatically the need for Britain to get fully engaged with Europe. The European Union is putting in place an economic recovery plan that will boost GDP by 1.

Andrew Duff MEP

THE sharp fall into economic recession has highlighted dramatically the need for Britain to get fully engaged with Europe. The European Union is putting in place an economic recovery plan that will boost GDP by 1.5 per cent over the medium term. That is not enough, but it is a start.

The EU is also working to get a grip on the behaviour of Europe's credit institutions. For this to happen, the UK must drop its previous resistance to EU regulation of the City of London. But even across the 16 countries that now use the euro and have a unified monetary policy, national supervision of the banking, securities and insurance sectors has been allowed to continue for too long.

The EU is taking a world lead in creating new 'green jobs' in business devoted to energy conservation and efficiency, and to the development of low carbon sources of energy. The crisis is a good time to boost the structural reform of the labour market, for example to keep the ageing population in work. The East of England, with its hi-tech companies and its solid R&D base, will do well out of green growth, but we must improve schooling and training across the board if we are to minimise job losses.


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Extremists of left and right always do well in an economic downturn. The voices calling for national protectionism and isolation from Europe are loud enough. Other voices are now needed to speak up for keeping Europe's large single market open for business, and for the WTO trade talks to get going again. Sterling has devalued by 20% over the last twelve months. How much further does the pound have to fall before even Gordon Brown begins to dust off plans for euro membership?

And it's not just the economy. Think of Europe's insecurity in the face of Putin's Russia. Think of the long-term catastrophe if we can't work together with our EU partners to combat climate change. Think of how we would deal with international crime and terrorism without an EU police and justice policy.

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The Irish, quite rightly, have agreed to have another go at bringing the Lisbon treaty into force. The EU badly needs these reforms if it is to have the strength, efficiency and democracy it needs to tackle these crises head on.

The lessons are clear. We're stronger together in Europe - or weaker apart.

Andrew Duff is Liberal Democrat MEP for the East of England. www.andrewduff.eu

Andrew Duff's web site

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