Five Presidents Report undermining national democracy

ECPM has serious concerns about the Five Presidents Report. The report, published on 22 June 2015 by the five presidents of the European institutions, is seriously undermining the member states' national democracy. Yesterday, ECPM president Peter Östman has sent the following letter to all Prime Ministers of the European Union member states:

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Your Excellency,

The Five Presidents Report presented by the respective Presidents of the European Commission, Europe Summit, European Central Bank, Eurogroup and European Parliament causes great concern amongst many parliaments, governments and citizens of Europe. ECPM wants to voice those concerns and contribute to a European Union that is democratic and supported by the European people.

The aim of the Five Presidents Report is to embark on a new convergence process for the European Union on an economic, financial, fiscal and political level. However, this will bring along new technocratic institutions, less subsidiarity and less transparency. Stage 1 of the proposed implementation is already in place, so the time to act is now. This stage already includes the installment of new technocratic institutions. During Stage 2, proposals for treaty changes are expected together with a further expansion of the tasks and rights of the European institutions through concrete legal measures.

According to the Five Presidents Report, our common destiny has shifted to economic success and a powerful currency.[1] The ECPM agrees that a sound economy is important. However, we want to stress that economy is not a destiny but a means to an end. Economic growth is one of the means to the end of a healthy society. Furthermore, economic growth should be sustainable and comprehensive. We should not lose sight of the importance of entrepreneurship and the family. A political direction that enforces economic growth without incorporating those elements is not a sound policy for a prosperous future.

The report’s core premise of further convergence should be thoroughly debated in national parliaments before a next step in this process is taken. Further convergence has major consequences for all national democracies in Europe. The Five Presidents Report shows no evidence that convergence is the perfect plan to protect the European Union better against economic shocks such as the 2008 crisis. 

Our main concerns are summarized in three points. Firstly, we stand against the installment of new technocratic institutions. Secondly, we are concerned that the proposed measures of the Five Presidents Report will result in less influence for national parliaments. Lastly, we regard an expansion of the Eurogroup Presidency as unnecessary and unwanted.

  1. The installment of a European Fiscal Board and national Competitiveness Authorities is unwanted as true democratic oversight cannot be guaranteed. The European Fiscal Board will, according to the report, cooperate with national fiscal boards[2] and “…form an economic, rather than a legal, judgement on the appropriate fiscal stance” of member states and the Eurozone.[3] The definition of an appropriate fiscal stance is a political debate in itself. To relocate this political debate to a technocratic, unelected and thus undemocratic body is unacceptable.
    We also have concerns about the instalment of the Competitiveness Authorities. Their actions will be coordinated by the European Commission, to which they have to report back as well. Based on this report, the Competitiveness Authorities and the European Commission report back to the national governments. In this way, the European Commission has complete control over this intransparent process. We emphasize that while this process runs via the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP), these institutions are not limited to the Eurozone but play their role in the whole European Union.
  2. The proposed measures will lead to less influence for national parliaments with regards to their national economies and budgets. The European Fiscal Board will decide on a European level what an appropriate economy will look like. This will make national parliaments lose control over their national economies and budgets. Another concern with regards to subsidiarity are impending treaty changes.[4] Members of the Eurozone agreed to the euro so any proposed changes to this treaty should be brought before them. When member states do not agree to treaty changes, there should be alternatives and preferably, a way out of the Euro. The Five Presidents Report currently renounces that.
  3. The proposed expansion of the Eurogroup Presidency is unnecessary and unwanted. The Five President Report mentions the Eurogroup Presidency should become fulltime and function “within the Euro area and beyond”.[5] However, it is unclear what control the Eurogroup President has over countries that are not part of the Eurozone. Furthermore, the role of the Eurogroup presidency vis-à-vis the Member States is loosely defined in this report and should be clarified. We oppose an expansion of the Eurogroup Presidency as we do not believe that more power at the center is what Europe needs.

We are concerned that the implementation of the Five Presidents Report will cause potential damage to the EU. Even if these measures will lead to an economically efficient and shock-proof EU, they will make the EU much more vulnerable to political shocks. There is a huge volatility in election results, causing more political divergence across the EU. In a more converged regulatory system, political dissent will easily lead to dissent over the system itself. We believe this is a serious risk.

The Five Presidents Report brings new and more top-down regulation which is incompatible with unlocking the potential at the local level. We believe that innovation and entrepreneurship starts there and not in technocratic institutions.

Finally, the issues we bring forward are not just our concerns. They are shared by many Europeans. It is our sincere hope that they will be considered in order to create a European Union that will deliver democracy and wellbeing for all its citizens.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Östman
President of the European Christian Political Movement


[1] Five Presidents Report, p4.

[2] European Commission Press Release, 21 October 2015

[3] Five Presidents Report, p23.

[4] European Parliament Press Release, 15 September 2015

[5] Five Presidents Report, p18.

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