Pleas for prag­ma­tism as EU charts post-Brexit fu­ture

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SE­NIOR Euro­pean po­lit­i­cal fig­ures have ap­pealed for the EU to set aside lofty de­bate as it strug­gles with Brexit-style pop­ulism, and in­stead to fo­cus on mea­sures which clearly ben­e­fit cit­i­zens.

Lead­ing the charge, Ger­man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble – a lynch­pin of the Berlin coali­tion govern­ment – scorned “po­lit­i­cal ser­mons”, in­sti­tu­tional re­form and changes to EU treaties as pro­posed fixes for Europe’s fault­lines.

“In prin­ci­ple I am in favour of more in­te­gra­tion in Europe,” he told the Welt am Son­ntag weekly.

“But this is not the time ... Europe can­not sim­ply con­tinue as be­fore,” said the 73-year-old veteran min­is­ter, long a pas­sion­ate sup­porter of the Euro­pean project.

“The sit­u­a­tion is so se­ri­ous that we have to stop play­ing the usual Euro­pean and Brus­sels games,” Mr Schaeu­ble said.

“The EU is fac­ing an acid test, per­haps the great­est in its his­tory.”

Mr Schaeu­ble, a mem­ber of Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union (CDU), said the EU had to work “with speed and prag­ma­tism” to un­lock growth and thus cre­ate jobs.

He sketched ini­tia­tives from a com­mon en­ergy pol­icy to job train­ing to har­mon­is­ing na­tional de­fence pro­cure­ments.

The CDU’s coali­tion part­ners, the So­cial Democrats, mean­while stressed strength­en­ing the safety net for the poor or un­em­ployed.

In the south­ern French town of Aix-en-Provence, the Euro­pean com­mis­sioner for eco­nomic pol­icy, Pierre Moscovici, called for “strong ini­tia­tives ... to rein­vent Europe.”

“Sta­tus quo can­not be a re­ply to Brexit,” he said, re­fer­ring to the June 23 ref­er­en­dum in which a ma­jor­ity of Britons voted to leave the EU.

The vote dealt a body-blow to Euro­pean fed­er­al­ists, who want the bloc’s states to come into an ev­er­tighter em­brace.

Crit­ics of fed­er­al­ism ar­gue many cit­i­zens are hos­tile to Euro-cen­tral­ism. They con­tend Brus­sels is not ad­dress­ing con­cerns about jobs, liv­ing stan­dards and mi­gra­tion. –

Photo: AFP

Ger­man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble wants the EU to deal with prac­ti­cal is­sues.

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