Opinion

Polands vision for Europe

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WARSAW — The European Union is stuck in a vicious cycle of crises. If theres any hope of breaking it, the EU urgently needs to change course after Mays European Parliament election.

Weve experienced many crises in the past, but the situation we find ourselves in today is by far the most serious: Brexit, subsequent waves of migration, terrorism, economic slowdown, public debt in many member states — all these have raised serious doubts about the future of the European project among its citizens.

The answer to these crises in Brussels has been to centralize power, forget about democracy, transparency and accountability, and disregard national sovereignty. It is an approach that is dangerously misguided.

Unless the EU takes action, European voters will sink deeper into disillusionment. To give them new hope, the EU has to reinvent itself.

Europeans need an EU that is socially sensitive; ambitious and innovative; tough on monopolies and protectionism; and safe. Most importantly, the EU needs to return to its roots as a union of strong, equal and free nations.

Here is a five-point plan for the road ahead.

* * *

Fight inequality

Europe needs a new economic model that ensures dynamic growth in a free-market economy and more effectively combats inequalities.

That will require a fair tax system and ambitious programs to reduce poverty and break glass ceilings, especially for young, small and medium companies.

These are the initiatives where the EU must take the lead. Inequalities exist not just between citizens, but also between countries, and fighting these imbalances — using cohesion and structural funds, for example — has been one of the EUs greatest successes. It is a vehicle of European modernization.

If we want to shore up support for the EU, we need to increase the role of these policies, which citizens see as tangible evidence that Europe cares about their future.

Boost innovation

Europe has fallen prey to austerity policies. To prepare for the challenges of the future, Europe should instead create an ambitious infrastructure investment program that will drive higher economic growth and raise living standards across the bloc.

The economic slowdown were experiencing requires a countercyclical fiscal policy. At the time of the lowest interest rates in history, not using this instrument to stimulate the economy would be a serious sin.

As a Continent, we must also become leaders in advanced technologies and industry. The EU should set up a European innovation strategy that sets the agenda on artificial intelligence, the internet of things, big data and machine learning. We should also support building European champions that can compete on a global scale.

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A bold EU budget will send a powerful message to citizens that we are taking action. We can afford it, if we take the appropriate steps — including reducing the European value-added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax (CIT) gap. The annual loss of revenues from these is about €300 billion — about twice as much as the EUs annual budget. Its time to finally solve this problem.

Polands Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki | Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

We also need to ensure the fair taxation of digital technology giants. Passing legislation on a European Digital Tax will not suppress innovation. To the contrary, it will help finance technological advances in the decades ahead.

Taxes do not have to be high if everyone honestly pays their share. This is what justice and solidarity are all about – the fundamental values ​​of the EU. It is time to put them into practice and make the concept of a tax haven history.

Fight monopolies and protectionism

The EU urgently needs to establish a real common market, to give European entrepreneurs the freedom they need to innovate and provide new services.

For too long, several countries with protectionist ambitions have stood in the way of making this a reality, under the pretext of protecting local labor markets. This type of intra-EU protectionism is hurting millions of European consumers and employees.

The EU should take action to ensure that we dont stifle the vision and diligence of those who would increase our competitiveness through innovations in the service sector.

We also need to wage a real fight against global and regional monopolies, including online platforms and networks. The EU should create an authority — a type of European Anti-Monopoly Office — with a mandate to combat practices infringing on the interests of European consumers and EU economies.

Boost spending and protect borders

Europe is a post-war success story. We owe this lasting peace to NATO, the strongest military alliance in history and the backbone of European defense.

The face of war is changing. To make sure Europe is truly safe in the years ahead, we will have to focus on innovation in the military sector and dramatically increase spending on defending our democracies against cyberattacks and new forms of hybrid warfare.

Projects such as Nord Stream 2 are dangerous for energy security and, as a result, the safety of the entire bloc.

Maintaining a rational migration policy is also crucial to our safety. It is for national governments to protect their countries borders, and although European cooperation can be helpful, this basic principle should notRead More – Source

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