Europe’s Hamiltonian moment
Text: Narcis George Matache
Our fate as Europeans, our coming together is marked by situations of crisis and disaster. The bigger the disaster, the closer we got in its aftermath. At the end of the Second World War, the survivors wanted peace more than anything, and that gave birth to the European project. At the end of the Cold War, the west and east Europeans had been reunited, and that gave birth to the European citizen. Now, during a pandemic, the creation of joint European debt will give birth to the European Federation.
As a federalist activist, I celebrated so-called Europe’s Hamiltonian moment. That is because if the name awarded will hold true, then the European Union will evolve into a powerful federation that will lead the fight against climate change and allow us to hope that we actually stand a chance.
The moment is named after Alexander Hamilton because he is the artisan of a deal that led to the creation of federal debt, which allowed the United States to go from a loose confederation of states to a powerful federation that dominated the globe for the past century.
The three Hamiltonian political leaders that made our moment possible are Emmanuel Macron (France), Angela Merkel (Germany) and Ursula Von der Leyen (European Commission). The trio had to overcame the reluctance from the leaders of Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Finland and to compromise with the leaders of Poland and Hungary (the two bad boys of Europe). The final deal is not as powerful as first envisioned, but it is a deal agreed by all the member states of the European Union.
The deal brings a European Recovery Fund in value of 750 billion euro that will be injected into the European economy in the next 2 years, to protect as many jobs as possible. The European Union will acquire common debt at very low interest (interest impossible to be obtained by a member state alone) to fund the post-pandemic recovery, and it will collect direct taxes on plastic waste, carbon trading, financial transactions and a digital levy.
"When crisis hits, we don't turn against each other. No, we listen to each other, we lean on each other, because we are always stronger together." - Michelle Obama
Where will our money go? With the post-pandemic recovery deal, an agreement over the next 7 years budget has also been made. The budget will reach over 1 billion euro, and it will mean a contribution of 1.4% of the gross domestic product of each member state.
A large part of the budget will go towards cohesion projects (over 202 billion euro) so that less developed regions of the European Union can catch up economically with the well-developed ones. Another large part of the budget is for supporting European agriculture (over 356 billion euro) to make sure we have enough food and for developing the rural areas. Over 87 billion euro will go towards youth employment, up-skilling and retraining of workers, social inclusion and poverty reduction (which includes child poverty).
Our taxes allow young Europeans to travel and study abroad, give support to our poor neighbouring countries to further develop, protect our external borders, upgrade our existing digital, energy and transport infrastructure, and so on. If you are interested in how our money is spent and what difference it makes in the world, then check the website https://what-europe-does-for-me.eu/en/portal
Having a European budget allows the EU to have a collective dream, and the larger the budget, the more we all can benefit from it.