The European Union is still a rather wealthy place in the world. This means that it is a great opportunity for many firms to try and enter this market, to develop new products and push forward technological progress. As a socialist, I cannot but encourage all those who follow their passion and talent and put it to the service of everybody else by working hard and competing in the business world. It is simply right that those who succeed enjoy a reward for this.
A strong free market *can* be a wonderful opportunity for consumers, as long as actors who are in it are accountable to society as a whole, to their shareholders but also to their stakeholders. This, in Europe, is not the case any more. Huge corporations have managed to harvest a political, financial and commercial firepower that is big enough to influence collective decision making processes. We came to the point where the Greek people were humiliated and stripped of their hopes and futures because a couple of bank across Europe were full of their bonds. Today, governments are competing against each other to steal away firms and businesses from neighbour countries by lowering and lowering corporate taxes. This is unfair, when some states are already facing tremendous financial problems. It is unfair because it advantages those countries who are already stronger and it incentives the creation of fiscal loopholes. It is therefore a mechanism that leads to a deepening of the dangerous asymmetries that have developed through member countries and that are leading to profound political instabilities.
Fiscal competition can be beneficial when it is fair and sustainable. And it should work the other way round. The weakest parts of the Union should have fiscal incentives to develop, not the other way round. It is therefore time to act on this, to call for a minimum corporate tax adjusted according to the industrial power of the countries, to rebelance competition, because no market is better than a truly inclusive market. It is time to combat fraud and evasion: nobody is successful on their own, but thanks to the fact there is a society around them. Asking to give back is therefore legitimate and everyone should comply.
I firmly believe that the European Union will have no future if we do not rediscover and propose to the public debate ideas and words such as respect, solidarity, fairness, democracy. It is only us, the Socialist, that can do this.