Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa: The Europe of Melancoly
Uniquement en anglais
For some time now, it has been possible to note the emergence of a worrying return to protectionism in relations between the European states (but also between Europe and the rest of the world). This trend has been rather over-emphatically dubbed economic patriotism, and while this term is clearly intended to create a semblance of respectability, it fails to conceal the reality it belies: an insidious spewing forth of nationalism. A rapid succession of events in recent months confirms the truth of this. The Bolkestein Directive, which was meant to grant the countries of eastern Europe assess to the European labour market and to liberalise services across the EU, has been watered right down. More recently, French prime minister Dominique de Villepin burst with unseemly haste into the energy arena to announce the merger between Gas de France and the French utility company Suez, thereby blocking the bid for the latter by Italian energy group, Enel. This came just weeks after the Spanish government acted in much the same way to obstruct the bid of German energy giant E.ON for Endesa, Spain's biggest producer of electrical energy. Even before this, Germany had introduced legislation making it particularly difficult for foreign companies to acquire stakes in its trategic industries. Meanwhile the EU, with the national governments breathing down its neck, has decided to impose duties on imports of shoes from China and Vietnam in a futile attempt to restrict the flow of these products onto our markets.