A successful EU
Thank you for your comment and valuable input, Cristina! Continue debating with us your ideas on the Future of Europe. You will be informed at the end of August if you have been chosen to fly to Valencia to present your idea during the Together event.
Good comment Cristina! However we live in paradoxical time when LESS action and more conversation is necessary. Europe is currently going through the age of unprecedented economic, cultural and legal prosperity. European Union is truly moral superpower of the world, in a same time Union is maintaining keys to the World economy, and has trillions and trillions of Dollars(or euros) annual turnover. Problem is that we, as European’s dont seem to know what to do with it. Current day Europe is like a person who worked hard whole life, lost was mistreated in numerous occasion, has been victim of violence, and then, suddenly patented an invention and became celebrity billionaire overnight – without knowing what to do with wealth, pover and fame. Its time to sit down and carefully talk over where we all came from,from historic perspective, where we are going, what are objectives and what are the tools to achieve it. Inviting “professionals” to do the thinking instead of all of us would not work-using my allegory of suddenly wealthy person, hiring economists and other academics for advise is like hiring army or consultants to find ut wat t do with own wealth and power. In best case scenario they will endlessly argue with one another on your payroll , in worst case will embezzle funds. BreXit is a best example what can happen when people rely on the notion, that common sense and obvious , evident achievement will sort things out by itself, and allow celebrity demagogue to do all the talking. Nicholas Gabrichidze
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Only way for European socialists to catch up with time and stay ahead of things, would be to combine so called libertarian economy with “small government” and establish social security paid through either negative tax or basic income. Libertarian economy is something we all know, even if many don’t know it by name. It is the idea of market and economic relations,which are completely liberated from governments planning and regulation, with government stepping in only to prevent threats to national security(if state is conservative) or environmental disaster (if state is progressive). For a past 25 years this idea dominated economic thinking, was claimed by conservative part of political spectre, was never truly implemented to the max, but was nevertheless dominant across the planet, from New Zealand to Sweden. Many traditional socialists condemned the idea on numerous occasions, but were unable to stop the pover of profit disregard; even 2008 crisis didn’t help . Free market economy generates incredible wealth and prosperity; in fact its capacity of satisfying the demand, and hence-populations needs is unprecedented in human history. It is especially important to mention that the prosperity happened disregard political regime in the countries who tried free market, and especially considering the repetitious collapse of any attempt to build state supported nationalized economy to satisfy peoples needs; would it be hard core communist planning, or state run agencies in a free countries. As socialists we must admit, however that march of free market libertarian economy also caused incredible, and unfair inequality, return of brutal zero-chance poverty and eventual suffering. Even a brief unbiased look allows to see that core of the problem is not luck of regulation or state planning, problem is purely with distribution of wealth… So called trickle down economy, idea that rich people would invest and spend money, if released from tax burden, works well with millionaires who need to re-invest to keep themselves rich. Or, in worse case scenario,who simply buy houses, limousines, jewelry for lovers, designer closes-eventually outraging public opinion, but giving jobs for thousands if not millions of designers, car manufacturers, craftsman or textile workers. It does not work with billionaire though, with notorious “1%”. At this level money looses its pover as a tool of purchase and reward: for people who have that much capital the wealth is often a matter of sport-like a fun competition, etching ones personal pride to be at the top of Forbes list. So, eventually, big portion of wealth is simply sitting somewhere at saving accounts, un-invested and not spent. Its our job, as social democrats, to ensure the fair and acceptable way of wealth redistribution: so while billionaire upper class would compete for a place in “Top 10 of rich peoples” rating, starving family in Greece or homeless teen in Paris would not feel like they are abandoned by society. It can go either through tax, or through government bonds or other borrowing, and ensure that it would go through proper social contract, without leaving both capital owners and welfare recipients frustrated. It is worth mentioning, that in the situation when traditional job market and employer-worker relations are dying under pressure of outsourcing and automatisation, resurrection of small businesses, individual enterprise, gig economy, service based jobs is inevitable. So our focus should be not with collecting social security benefits from the meting iceberg of labor market, but establishing fair and efficient system of personal income tax. Getting back to libertarian roots of my idea – I would propose to move away from the progressive tax rate, when percentage of tax was depended on income, and to tax whole population, everyone who earns income above welfare limit (and all active entities) . To set one, single, same rate, would it be 10, 20 or 25 percent. Rate will depend on who is in pover of course This way we can move away from truly Babylonian system of tax reboots, tax heavens, tax shopping and debates about which social groups contributes more to economy. From something which even most accountants fail to understand. Should the same, universal tax rate apply not only to all individuals in the state, but also to all EU member states? Isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but in a Dream Europe-may be. It is worth mentioning that in the left circles, there is a belief that once collected, tax will and shell be spent for a good cause in any developed society. The reality, however, is far less optimistic.. Currently half of budget in most developed countries is spent on wars, and another half on corporate subsidies or huge Social Security bureaucracy, who is supposed to supervise distribution of social aid, and punish those who breach the rules (say – someone painted neighbors house for a fee without declaring). And only scraps go to those in need, which does not help to solve poverty. That’s why the idea of “small government” is vital; system which would be covering the needs of people without often grotesque planning and research-either through basic income, or preferably, through negative tax, providing tax refund to anyone who declares income below certain welfare line. The Dutch system of “housing subsidies”, and “health insurance subsides” , paid directly by tax office, which is existing for decade already, and works as a clock, can be used as wider model of such tax refund welfare. But no real equality in Europe would be possible unless there would be income and social security equality among members of different member states. it is high time to establish pan European minimal income and social security threshold so the welfare and prosperity of EU citizens would not be depended on what passport individual holds. Situation when Romanian national has to work extra hours to earn 600 Euro , while welfare recipient in Northern Europe receives twice as much as social aid is an economic and social cancer which might rot out whole thing if not dealt with in due time… Chinese say that thousand miles way starts with a small step, so even one step this direction will be a good start. Nicholas Gabrichidze
Cohesion policy will be based on solidarity or it won’t have a solid and bright future. It must support citizens in their personal development. It must be about sustainability, quality infrastructure and economic development which reduces the gaps between regions, between generations and between gender. Cohesion policy must be visible for the citizens. This is absolutely crucial for the image of Europe. It must invest in areas where national investments lack and it must also be ready to deal with new challenges such as migration. We must aim for a greater coherence through thematic concentration, a proper control mechanism, a single audit chain, the implementation of a standard cost and a coordination with EU macroeconomic policies in order to achieve simplification and so increase the efficiency of the cohesion policy. This will e.g. enable cities to better tackle urban problems such as poverty or pollution and will positively influence cross-border & territorial cooperation which will also aid in reducing inequalities. A strong “social pillar” & focus on human development through better education are indispensable for an EU that is & also feels “together”.