Scenario Five: Doing Much More together
The final scenario is the most ambitious laid out in the white paper. By pursuing the fifth scenario, the EU27 would agree to do much more together across all policy areas. This would involve member states pooling together their resources, power and decision-making capacity, in every facet of governance. Consequently, decisions are made much faster, while their implementation is rapidly enforced. This would facilitate cooperation on a level that has not been seen before. Similarly, the Eurozone receives a considerable boost, as there is a joint understanding that whatever decisions benefit the members involved in the common currency, will be beneficial for all the EU27.
Looking to the future, 2025 will see a much more unified continent. The white paper describes significant advantages to following scenario five. The EU negotiates trade deals with one voice and is represented by one seat, while the European Parliament has the final say on any new trade deals. With regard to foreign policy, the scenario provides the EU with a single agreement on positions, ultimately leading to a common defence union being created, while cooperation on security issues is routine. As with scenario four, the common foreign policy produces a single migration policy in Europe.
Scenario five pays significant attention to the economic benefits of pursuing a unified EU. Increased investment in research and development results in the emergence of several ‘silicon valleys’, within the EU27. Further investment produces new economic opportunities for nations and businesses, allowing the EU to tackle unexpected or irregular crises that arise and challenge the Union. Similarly, the Single Market is strengthened and deepened to include energy and digital services.
A fully integrated finance system allows for the easy flow of capital across the EU27, completing the goal of this aspect of the Single Market. Moreover, greater cooperation on fiscal policy and taxation finally reaches the point of economic and fiscal union. This would be supported by an EU body to offer supervision of financial services for Eurozone countries and any other member state that wants to avail of the oversight. Additional EU funding would also be made available for financial support for any of the EU27 experiencing economic difficulties.
The final scenario also gives the EU greater ability to continue and potentially enhance our leadership on global challenges such as climate change and sustainable development. Furthermore, decision-making at the EU level becomes quicker and more effective. Citizen’s enjoy more rights and in a more balanced manner, across the Union. However, this level of integration could indeed spark a backlash from nationalist parties within the EU. They would likely argue that this is a gross violation of national sovereignty and a usurpation without legitimisation.
The impact of this plan results in a stronger, more effective Single Market, economic and monetary union is achieved. The Schengen region is protected due to joint security measures and a single migration policy. Likewise, foreign policy is unified and uttered in one voice. The budget, backed by its own resources, is radically modernized to take Europe into a new era. Decision-making is easier and quicker but questions are raised about accountability from those who feel the EU has overstepped into national territory.
The snapshots provide a Europe, whereby progressive trade agreements are pursued and finalized quickly. The EU begins to set up EU embassies in countries outside the Union. The European Stability Mechanism becomes the European Monetary Fund, under the control of the European Parliament. This fund would support the European Investment Bank to raise financing for the third generation of the “Junker Plan”, helping boost investment across the EU27.
Senator Neale Richmond is the Fine Gael spokesman on EU Affairs in Seanad Éireann