Mandelson calls for Commission to rebuild sustainable economic growth
Lord Mandelson has issued a statement saying that the new European Parliament and next European Commission must be ‘Europe's economic conscience’
Lord Mandelson, who was European Trade Commissioner 2004-2008 and is now UK Business Secretary said: “No matter how badly a downturn might tempt us to think and act in national silos, the next five years will in fact demand an even greater Europeanism from us”.
In particular Mandelson said EU state must guard against using the recession as an excuse to ‘renationalise’ parts of the single market, which he said would be “a huge mistake for innovation, enterprise and growth in Europe… Measures that push the state back into running parts of the economy or put the openness of the single market into reverse are a mistake. This crisis should not become a pretext for resurrecting the protectionist and state interventionist arguments that decades of experience has discredited in Europe.”
However Mandelson argued that globalisation required that European states be active in equipping people and the European economy with the resources to compete in a global economy. He argued that the next European Commission should lead a debate on how best to do this by benchmarking best practice in education, training, research and development, infrastructure and the social security systems allowing workers to move easily between jobs and adapt to rapid economic change.
Mandelson described a European competitiveness policy “that looks at individual people, rather than individual jobs, the business environment rather than individual businesses and high levels of productivity rather than individual products.”
The UK business secretary proposed that the next Commission should set a targeted agenda of single market liberalization for the goods and services that will be key to Europe's comparative advantages in the years ahead: low carbon goods and services, business and commercial services, network services like broadband and digital communications. He also said that alongside ending the emergency flexibilities in European state aid rules in 2010, the Commission should take an increasingly tough line in enforcing single market rules.
Mandelson's proposals for the next Commission included:
* Setting an ambitious new European target for apprenticeships;
* A radical refocus of the European budget towards investment in research into green innovation;
* A Commission-led audit of Europe's skills needs and a focusing of the European Social Fund spending on training people with the skills of the future;
* Creating a single European patent system with a fast track for green technologies;
* Drawing up a European action plan for ensuring that every home and business in the EU has access to broadband within a few years.
Lord Mandelson strongly endorsed Jose Manuel Barroso for a second term as European Commission President saying that he had spent his first term as President "pushing us to see the reality of our collective European economic future.”