Vienna, 28 August 2013 Press release

Lopatka: Plan EU Convention for early 2014

“We need a Europe based on subsidiarity”

Vienna, 28 August 2013 – “We need a strong Europe as the only way to secure Austria’s successful future. Approximately 7 percent of the world’s population live in the EU, generating 25 percent of the global economic output. With 50 percent of the global social and transfer payments, we are safeguarding a fair society and social safety net that is unique in the world“, said State Secretary Dr. Reinhold Lopatka yesterday during a lecture on the EU in Trautenfels Castle (district of Liezen).

“The EU is a success story that must be continued and expanded even further. To do this, we must not shy away from additional reforms to strengthen Europe’s ability to act and stay competitive and to foster Europe’s position as a global player. For these reasons, I am in favour of an EU Convention in early 2014 to prepare these necessary steps on the basis of broad participation. On the one hand, we need a greater European emphasis in central areas such as foreign and security policy or economic and monetary policy to enable us to act as a credible, strong international player, to maintain the competitiveness of our economies and to equip our monetary policy with solid tools. At the same time, we must also think about how to make Europe more efficient and to protect it from self-inflicted paralysis resulting from overregulation. For this reason, I am also a great advocate of an open discussion on tasks that may be better solved on the level of regions or national states”, emphasised Lopatka.

The State Secretary added: “We must not forget that the EU consists of 28 sovereign national states that have different approaches and standards. This is also why a greater European emphasis does not necessarily work equally well in all areas”. Lopatka named social policy as an example: “In this area, the EU states are so far apart that a standardization of minimum social standards would lead to an inevitable revolt: we are either talking about completely unmanageable targets for states such as Bulgaria or Romania, where the average income is less than 500 Euros a month, or about the net contributors being forced to make massive payments for all the others. The other alternative would be social dumping in countries such as Austria, which provides a minimum benefit payment of 794 Euros a month and where we would be forced to take a tremendous step back. Personally, I wish for neither of these two scenarios. To demand either would be based on unsound reasoning, as raising social standards in 28 member states of which only 9 are net contributors would be simply unfinanceable and would weaken European competitiveness even further.”

“Not in all areas does a stronger European emphasis make for a better Europe. For this reason, I advocate a Europe based on subsidiarity and proportionality. According to Article 5 of the EU Treaty, issues that are not regulated on EU level and that could be better solved on a regional or national level should also be dealt with there, in a way that is close to the citizens and pertinent to the issue at hand.” Brussels had no business in regulating how Styrian pumpkin seed oil or Greek olive oil should be served in Austrian restaurants or how municipalities should secure their water supply; internally or through private suppliers. “The point is to increase the EU’s efficiency and its ability to act. A discussion on what challenges should be best dealt with on what level must therefore be just as much part of a Convention as the strengthening of the Commission, which should be given greater powers to influence monetary policy. An open, honest discussion of these points is required”, Lopatka concluded.

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