Greater emphasis on the roles of national governments

United Kingdom
Federal Trust for Education and Research
 
Although the European Union has been seen over the past six months in this country as a useful meeting-place of national governments, it could not be said that the institutions of the European Union have been perceived as figuring largely in the global financial crisis. Much greater emphasis has been placed in the public consciousness on the roles of national governments, notably the British, French and German governments. Brown has been eager to present himself as working closely together with his European colleagues, despite Britain’s continuing absence from the Euro. This absence from the Eurozone is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. British opponents of the single European currency and British membership of it have claimed in recent months to discern economic and political strains within the Eurozone, which could put its stability under pressure. This is not a universally – held view in the United Kingdom. If anything, British public opinion has been impressed by the rising value of the Euro against the pound over the past six months. This has not led, however, to any apparent increase in the British public’s desire to join the Euro. A “BBC” poll published in January 2009 found that 71 percent would vote against membership in a referendum.[1]


Turkish context; reflections from the government, business and trade unions

Turkey
Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University
 
Starting as a credit crunch in the US sub-prime mortgage market, the economic crisis soon became a global phenomenon. Not only financial institutions, but also real sector corporations have been severely influenced by this crisis. What is more, global economic governance is now under serious scrutiny for the lack of transparency, regulation and co-ordination. Economists like Joseph E. Stiglitz, point out the need for “more global and more robust oversight” that would prevent excessive risk taking, myopic behavior in financial markets, bad accounting and lack of transparency.[1] The hegemony of the USA in the world financial system has been challenged with the recent financial crisis so that the bipolar structure of the world system has reached its turning point.[2] At this juncture, there emerged a search for a new ‘Bretton Woods’. The European leaders aimed to lay down guidelines for co-ordinated action which was named by the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, as “the birth of a ‘European economic government’”.[3]
 

Financial crisis: unanimity and tension

Sweden
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
 
The European Council of 16 October 2008 is commented on positively, Minister of Finance, Anders Borg, sees it to contain basic issues that Sweden sees as important, such as the national responsibility and national methods; the latter is seen as necessary because of the speed that is required in which there is no time for development of common ones. The third method is to support through governmental shareholders’ contributions, rather than loans. A fourth important point is the need for openness.[1]
 
In the continued discussions during the autumn, Sweden has fought against industry support initiatives proposed by the French Presidency. As described by Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish preferred policy is to invest instead in increased competitive ability and support for people to get new jobs.[2] The government fears that in times like these, some EU member states are tempted to support their own major companies and it also worries about protectionism among some member states of the EU. In this policy, the government gets wide support from other political parties.[3]
 

Belated and cautious steps

Slovenia
Centre of International Relations
 
As for the expectations towards the EU in the context of the increased economic and social interdependence on a global scale demonstrated by the financial crisis, Slovenia expects the EU to provide for a common framework from which the EU member states could choose the measures best suited for the structure and specificity of their economies. But it is to take into consideration, that those economies that did not consolidate public finance in the ‘good times’, now do not have the abundance of room for measure-taking.
 
Regarding the performance of the EU in the financial crisis so far perceived, discussed and evaluated in Slovenia, two more roles of the EU have been emphasised:
 
1.       to provide measures at the level of the EU policies (for example: the EU budget, the European Investment Bank, the common trade policy, etc.)
2.       to provide equality and the respect of rules at the community level, especially the rules of: a) country aid and b) the Stability and Growth Pact.
 
Acknowledging the measures taken so far, the EU has set-up two crisis-response frameworks:
 
1.       the framework for financial stability adopted by the European Council in October 2008, and

Crisis report: more concern for the new member states

Romania
European Institute of Romania
 
Daniel Dăianu, MEP for PNL[1] and former Minister of Finance, addressed at the end of October 2008 a written question to the European Commission regarding the fate of emerging economies, i.e. those of the new EU member states, in the current and future context of the crisis. The main objection of the Romanian MEP is that “most talk about rescue packages in the financial industry, in the EU, concerns, basically, Eurozone member countries and other older EU member states. The EU new member states are hardly mentioned in this regard”[2]. The trouble with these member states is that their economies “do not benefit of the advantages of having a reserve currency of their own, have large current account deficits, and are feeling the pain of the flight to safe investments. All this is putting tremendous pressure on their currencies and is complicating immensely the tasks of local central banks”[3]. Facing such risks, the question asked by the Romanian MEP is obviously legitimate: “How does the Commission intend to address the specific problems of these economies against the backdrop of the international financial crisis and a spreading recession in Europe?”[4].
 

EU initiatives seen as potentially a positive way to deal with financial crisis

Portugal
Institute for Strategic and International Studies
 
The year 2009 is certainly a year of great uncertainties regarding the future of the EU after the Irish ‘No’, particularly when this will be coupled with the unknown impact of the current financial and economic crisis, that seems to many more structural than simply a cyclical recession. But it may also be a year of opportunities. It will certainly be a year of great expectations of change in transatlantic relations and even in global politics with the arrival of President Obama at the White House.[1] The combination of these factors seems to point to 2009 as a year of both great opportunities and great challenges in terms of the future of the EU and of global governance.
 

The effects of the financial crisis on Poland

Poland
Foundation for European Studies - European Institute
 
In the beginning of November 2008, some economists and bankers asked the government for the preparation and implementation of the anti-crisis packet. Most banks ceased to give enterprises loans that resulted in hampering further investments. According to Central Statistical Office data, the production value in November 2008 decreased by 13 percent in reference to October 2008 and by 9 percent in reference to the corresponding period of 2007.
 

The Netherlands and the financial crisis

Netherlands
Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’
 
Dutch public opinion concerning the EU response regarding the financial crisis shows a watershed between the period before and after the agreement on the EU economic recovery plan. Before the December European Council in Brussels, the Netherlands witnessed a strong national coherent sentiment to fight this crisis, which was perceived as being a legacy from foreign origin. Prime Minister Balkenende describes this attitude as typical Dutch: “when cycling against the wind, Dutchmen will only pedal faster”.[1] In this period, concerns on the absence of the EU in the financial crisis started to mushroom.