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Living together - Combining diversity and freedom in 21st-century Europe [Report of the Group of Eminent Persons of the Council of Europe] PDF DOWNLOAD >>

DOCUMENTARIO DEDICATO DA AL-JAZEERA ALLA LEADER RADICALE EMMA BONINO

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DO NOT PLACE EUROPE'S GOLDEN GOOSE IN JEOPARDY

The Financial Times - February 16, 2009 by Neelie Kroes* Sir, I very much welcome the emphasis, both in your leader (“Protectionism could sink EU”, February 13) and in the opinion column by Giuliano Amato and Emma Bonino (“How to avoid the ruin of the European market”, February 12), on the crucial importance of maintaining the integrity of the European Union’s single market to tackle the recession and the need to stand up to protectionism. The EU’s single market is the goose that lays the golden egg of European prosperity. However, both the leader and the column are mistaken in the opinion that the European Commission is unable to resist pressure from member states and therefore unable to apply the state aid and internal market rules properly. In recent months, the Commission has consistently demonstrated the contrary in dealing with subsidies to counter the economic crisis. The Commission, with the full support of José Manuel Barroso, the Commission's president, and all its members, has insisted on applying consistently the principle that subsidies cannot be discriminatory or give rise to disproportionate distortions of competition. For example, the Commission obliged the Irish, French and German authorities to amend their bank support schemes and just this week we have made clear to France that the Commission will not tolerate any protectionist conditions to be attached to their car subsidies. The challenge here is not to stiffen the Commission’s resolve, but rather stiffen the member state’s commitment to the single market. It is the member states that must resist the temptation, as some have been tempted to do recently, to give in to short-term populist demands that would immediately exacerbate the current situation by pushing problems to other EU countries, and undermine the prosperity of us all in the medium term. As for the suggestion that member states should play a role in applying the state aid rules rather than the Commission, it would be naïve, time-consuming and counter-productive. The Commission’s diligent application of the state aid rules has worked very well for over 50 years – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Giving member states an operational role in applying the state aid rules would be akin to leaving the fox in charge of the goose, with all the consequences one could expect for Europe’s golden egg. * European Commissioner for Competition





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