This morning two European Commission technocrats and a spokesman held an off-the-record press briefing to explain the EU’s economic ‘governance.’ (Governance is the word eurocrats use instead of the more precise word ‘government’, because that word panics the Anglo-Saxons.) They gave it an hour. That’s called optimism, but an hour is about the maximum level anyone in the press corps is going to give on this one, so an hour it was.
Why an explanation had to be off the record I have no idea, but, okay, my lips are zipped. If you want to know how the economic government of the EU is going – and you ought to, because while a lot of it is eurozone only, the drift is for the full union, and Britain is already sucked into much of it – I can only offer you the slide that was projected over the heads of the three eurocrats during the briefing. The slide is not off the record.
Click on the image to view a bigger version.
Indeed, the eurocrats seemed very proud of it, explaining how hard they had worked to get the whole explanation on one page, and the colours. The spokesman assured us there were copies available to us in black and white outside the briefing room, or we could be sent a full-colour slide if we liked. At which point the journalists started laughing. The spokesman was confused. ‘You could put it on your wall.’ More laughter. ‘I could sign it.’ We all got up to leave.
So here you have it, your cut-out-and-keep annual timeline for the economic governance of the EU. If you actually want to figure it out, you need to keep these things in mind: the so-called European Semester (ie, the governing) kicks off in November, when the commission sets out overall economic priorities for the EU for the following year in an Annual Growth Survey. At the same time, the commission’s Alert Mechanism Report identifies member states that could be at risk of imbalances: the eurocrats at the commission will then order an In-Depth Review of their economies.
All this then bounces around for months to various parts of the European Parliament and the various formations of the European Council. Member states of both the eurozone and the EU 27 have to submit their budget plans to Brussels, and after more recommendations and orders from the commission, eventually the finance ministers of the EU member states will adopt the recommendations in July.
Or the Westminster Parliament could just take back control of the economic ‘governance’ of the United Kingdom and you could bin the slide.