jueves, 18 de julio de 2013

Spanish MEP: the Youth Guarantee is not a "magic potion"

There is no magic solution to the problem of tackling youth unemployment. The EU should employ a combination of strategies, including stronger support for SMEs, says Spanish MEP Pablo Zalba, Vice-president of the Committe of Economic and Monetary Affairs in the European Parliament.

Brussels (dpa Insight) - In Zalba's view, the "Youth Guarantee" alone can not solve the problem of youth unemployment in Europe. The answer should be a global one - a combination of strategies, including a stronger ECB role and smoother financing for SMEs in the EU, to help boost growth.

In a June 2013 interview with dpa Insight EU, Zalba, who is a MEP from Spain's conservative ruling People's Party, spoke about the need for a coordinated strategy when tackling youth unemployment.

According to the latest (June 2013) statistics, almost a quarter of 15 to 24-year-olds in the Eurozone are currently unemployed or no longer at school. The situation is particularly serious in southern Europe, with rates exceeding 50 per cent.

To help solve the problem of youth unemployment, the European Commission has recommended that EU member states adopt a Youth Guarantee, with a funding of 6 billion euros (partially financed by the European Social Fund), for the period 2014-2020.

This will ensure that all young people up to the age of 25 years receive a quality offer of a job, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.

dpa: Is the Youth Guarantee the answer to the problem?

Zalba: "The Youth Guarantee cannot be the entire solution to youth unemployment. The problem should be tackled with a package of measures because 6 billion euros can not perform a miracle. On the other hand, it is necessary that the European Investment Bank (EIB) plays a stronger role in this process, acting as facilitator for the financing of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Europe, and also to boost trade and help in particular all EU companies that look for opportunities to invest abroad".

"But, in any case, we should not forget that the true priority is to defragmentise the financial markets and get a quicker and more flexible financing for SMEs, in equal conditions in all EU countries...this was one of the founding principles of the single market. Of course, the Youth Guarantee is a key element in the overall strategy to combat youth unemployment and it will help a lot, but it would be naive to think that this can be like a magic potion".

dpa: Is there a definitive solution?

Zalba: "There is no single solution to youth unemployment, which has already reached dramatic proportions in countries like Greece or Spain. The answer should be a multiple one. Focusing only on the Youth Guarantee (that must be implemented by EU member states) would not solve this drama. We need other actors to also get involved in the process, like the EIB...We, in the EPP Group, strive for a global solution. In some cases, measures can have a short term impact, but EU leaders also consider medium and long term solutions. I insist, again, on the fact that European SMEs should have better ways to get fresh money. In countries like Spain, SMEs are the basis of the economy (with nearly 70 per cent of jobs created annually). SMEs in countries like Spain, but also in other EU member states, need urgent credit lines according to their size and particular needs, not in function of their geographical position. It is simply not logic that a Spanish SME pays more for its financing, almost 70 per cent more, than a German SME, for example".

dpa: Should the ECB have a greater role in the overall strategy of fighting unemployment?

Zalba: "We must respect the independence of the ECB. But in my view, the ECB can also - and should - interact in the whole process of boosting jobs and reducing unemployment. Today, I'm afraid, monetary policy decisions are not properly translated into facts, even Mario Draghi (the ECB president) acknowledges this. Yes, the ECB has recently lowered interest rates, but as long as markets are fragmented, there will be no repercussion of this measures on the real economy. How can the ECB act? Just like other central banks: through a bigger support to SMEs, through a more direct action in this field. It is clear to me that the solution to unemployment can only come through a global strategy, from governments and EU member states, from the Commission, from the ECB, the EIB ..."

dpa: German chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, among other conservative leaders in the EU (members of the EPP Group), have accepted that austerity alone cannot be the answer to the Eurozone crisis. Do you agree?

Zalba: "This is not new to us. Members of the Spanish People's Party have said many times that austerity alone will not help us get out of the crisis. In this case, the Spanish government has not changed its view. We all, in the framework of the Spanish PP and in the EPP Group in the European Parliament, agree that in order to boost growth, we need to have sound domestic finances. We have also accepted that some deadlines (to meet the deficit targets) can be extended ... but the debate between austerity and growth is a false one, these are two sides of the same coin".


Better managed banks means less recapitalisation costs for taxpayers

Mr. Pablo Zalba, Vice-President of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, states that this research shows that the model used by most of the Spanish banking sector has been an exercise in transparency that no other banking sector of the European Union has carried out.

A group of banking research experts at the Economics Faculty of the University of Navarra, the University of Alicante and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have presented pioneering research in the European Parliament which analyses the recapitalisation of banks with public money in the period between January 2004 and December 2012 in 24 countries.

One of the conclusions of the report, coordinated by Ms. Reyes Calderón, Dean of the Economics Faculty at the University of Navarra, is that better managed banks “means less recapitalisation costs for taxpayers”, explained Mr. Germán López Espinosa, co-author of the research.

Commissioner Barnier, recalling that, between 2004 and 2012, member states of the European Union more than 550,000 million euros of public money to help the private bank sector, defended that what was needed was to agree a solution at a European scale which would be valid for most international banking groups.

The public recapitalisation of private banks has been that, between 2008 and 2012 “a cost to the public purse without precedent in Europe and the USA”, underlined university teacher Antonio Moreno. For example, and to cite some of the cases most prejudicial for the taxpayer, the Royal Bank of Scotland needed approximately 76,300 million dollars; Citigroup and the Bank of America required 45,000 million each; Bankia, 28,900 million; and Commerzbank, 24,200 million.

To date, banks in the USA have paid back 97% of the amount lent by their Government, but “in Europe we have been much slower and used very heterogeneous instruments”, explained Mr. Moreno. For example, in Spain, the big recapitalisation was in 2012 and the amount given back has been “very small”. In the USA it was in 2008.

University teacher Antonio Rubia has pointed out that international diversification “has had a net positive effect on the banking sector, reducing both the probability of recurring to recapitalisation and the volume of capital necessary to rescue a bank, and thus the anticipated costs of public intervention”.

This fact supports the strategy followed, for example, by the large Spanish Banks which, under the aegis of tax incentives, at the time made large-scale investments in international expansion, mainly in South America. This strategy provided them with “a robust source of income during the period of crisis and reduced their exposure to the domestic mortgage market”, explained this lecturer. Together with other factors, this aspect was key to understanding why the Banks have demonstrated greater financial strength tan the Spanish cajas de ahorros (savings banks).

Banking Unity in Europe

In order to prevent future public bank rescues, to make our banking sector less vulnerable and less costly for the taxpayer in the future, we need more Europe”, highlighted Mr. Moreno. “More Europe in the form of banking unity, with a single body which oversees solvency, liquidity, management and sources of financing of the banks, in an effective way and common to all countries in the Union; more Europe in the form of a monetary policy which takes into consideration the overall situation of the countries of the Union, and not just the biggest; and more Europe to boost measures of good governance at a European scale which avoids crises that are transmitted throughout the European Union”.

Mr. Pablo Zalba, Vice-President of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, states that this research shows that the model used by most of the Spanish banking sector has been an exercise in transparency that no other banking sector of the European Union has carried out. The research also shows the utmost need in the European Union to implement banking unity in the European Union. "I have no doubt that the day that these three pillars are implemented, the European banking sector will be reinforced in the face of future crises, and so I would encourage Commissioner Barnier to continue working to boost banking unity and funding", pointed out the European parliamentarian for Navarre.

Finally, lecturer Mr. López Espinosa concluded that a bank “has to be required to be efficient, this being the best measure to evaluate the quality of the management team. If it has an accentuated social dimension, in the end this means greater costs to the taxpayer”. Moreover, he believes that “an excessive level of competition” would imply very narrow margins and significant exposure of the banks to cyclical changes. The research presented at the European Parliament is unique for the length of the period under study and for the data bases generated, as it includes information from countries such as the USA, the UK, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan and Belgium, amongst others, including detailed data on 84 financial institutions from 24 countries.


viernes, 12 de julio de 2013


Cosa pensano gli eurodeputati in Commissione per i problemi economici e monetari della 'golden rule' per gli investimenti di interesse europeo? "Sono divisi, ma direi che in leggera maggioranza sono contrari", dichiara a Public Policy Werner Langen, dell'Unione Cristiano Democratica, il partito della cancelliera Angela Merkel. La proposta di uno scorporo di questi investimenti dal vincolo di bilancio del 3% del Pil, annunciata dal ministro delle Infrastrutture Maurizio Lupi, sarà discussa al prossimo Consiglio europeo il 27 e il 28 giugno. "Ma non è certo una novità, già Mario Monti nel '96 difendeva questa misura - dice Sylvie Goulard, eurodeputata francese del Movimento democratico, e membro della Commissione -. Personalmente se da una parte trovo giusto che si tenga conto della natura della spesa (distinguendo se si tratta di una spesa corrente oppure di un investimento), dall'altra sono convinta che, ammettendo troppe eccezioni, si rischia di non avere più una regola". Secondo Goulard, dopo lo scorporo degli investimenti nelle infrastrutture, altri chiederebbero di togliere dal calcolo del debito le spese per gli indigenti o per i giovani. "I vincoli sono necessari", aggiunge. "Dobbiamo essere molto seri sulla spesa pubblica". Della stessa opinione anche Langen: "Sono fortemente contrario a questo tipo di golden rule" dichiara. "E comunque è il debito totale che conta: per l'Italia una misura del genere potrebbe essere politicamente conveniente, ma si troverebbe a dover affrontare sempre lo stesso debito. Anche se - ammette - è importante che una parte del decifit sia investito e non solo speso nei consumi". La Commissione europea al momento preferisce non commentare la proposta che sarà a breve discussa dal Consiglio. In ogni caso la Commissione dovrebbe a breve chiarire i criteri di una possibile attuazione della golden rule, quasi certamente alquanto restrittivi. Del resto in questi giorni il ministro delle Finanze tedesco, Wolfgang Schäuble, ha ribadito l'opposizione della Germania agli scorpori dal calcolo dei deficit. Recentemente, invece, il governo francese si è espresso favorevolmente nel senso di un più generale allentamento dei vincoli di bilancio: "La Francia, a differenza dell'Italia, è ancora fuori dai parametri di stabilità europei - chiarisce Goulard - pertanto non sono d'accordo con le dichiarazioni di Hollande. Inoltre in un contesto così fragile, con le elezioni tedesche a settembre, credo sia controproducente aprire una discussione in merito". Per Goulard è una questione di affidabilità: "Sono certa che, se la Germania si fidasse degli altri paesi, una misura del genere sarebbe bene accetta - spiega -, ma non possiamo sempre prendere impegni e poi non rispettarli, anche per evitare di mettere a rischio la fiducia dei mercati". Insomma non sarebbe il momento giusto per cambiare le regole: "Ora la questione chiave è la disoccupazione - aggiunge il vicepresidente della Commissione parlamentare Pablo Zalba Bidegain, del Partito popolare spagnolo - dobbiamo assicurarci che le regole siano abbastanza flessibili da permettere agli Stati membri di incentivare la creazione di nuovi posti di lavoro, ma per questo non serve allentare ulteriormente i vincoli". Le misure attuali, infatti, sarebbero già abbastanza flessibili: "Con il Sixpack (una serie di misure che nel 2011 hanno riformato il patto di stabilità, Ndr) la Commissione europea può controllare la spesa pubblica e privata più nel dettaglio - conclude Goulard -, e questo garantisce una maggiore flessibilità rispetto al patto di stabilità originariamente previsto".(Public Policy) http://www.publicpolicy.it/verso-il-consiglio-ue-la-golden-rule-divide-gli-eurodeputati-focus-14652.html