Views of French, German and Italian Parliamentarians on EU and EMU ReformsResearch
A team of researchers from the ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, the University of Mannheim, École Polytechnique in Paris and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan surveyed members of the German Bundestag, Italian Camera dei Deputati and Senato della Repubblica as well as members of the French Assemblée Nationale and the Sénat. A total of 328 members of parliament (MPs) from three countries participated in the survey conducted in autumn 2018. The results of this survey, presented in Brussels today, demonstrate that French, Italian and German MPs are open to granting the EU more competencies in the fields of defense and immigration policy.
There is also broad agreement on giving legislative initiative to the European Parliament and on increasing national investment expenditure to boost economic growth. There is, however, considerable disagreement over certain reform proposals for the Eurozone: French and Italian MPs support the implementation of new European Monetary Union (EMU) institutions such as a euro area budget and Eurobonds, while the Germans oppose them. Opinions on monetary policy differ between Paris, Rome and Berlin. Italian and French MPs support the asset purchase programme of the European Central Bank (ECB), whilst German MPs think it should be discontinued. There is strong Franco-Italian support for the completion of the Banking Union through the European Deposit Insurance Scheme, while German parliamentarians are undecided on this matter.
The survey covers three reform dimensions: (i) the division of competencies between the European and national levels, (ii) EMU reforms, and (iii) the future of EU finance and decision-making.
According to the survey, French and Italians MPs are generally more open towards shifting competencies to Brussels than their German counterparts. The results suggest that there is widespread support for greater integration in Europe in the fields of immigration and defense policies. There is also broad agreement on giving legislative initiative to the European Parliament and on increasing national investment expenditure to boost economic growth.
Higher national investment is supported by many parties across Europe
The survey results also provide information on party membership of MPs. With the exception of members of the German Alternative for Germany (AfD), higher national investment is supported by many parties across Europe, including the governing parties in Italy. The situation is quite similar as far as the support for new EMU institutions is concerned. While parties across Europe are generally in favour of implementing these instruments, the German AfD is again strongly opposed to it. Thus, the party-specific results point towards a deep divide between populist movements in Germany (AfD) and Italy (Lega, Movimento 5 Stelle).
These results shed some light on possible next steps in the debate on European integration. “The national parliamentarians of three founding countries agree on the need to shift greater responsibility to the European level regarding immigration and defense issues,” says Pierre Boyer, a professor at École Polytechnique (CREST – Joint Research Lab, CNRS/École Polytechnique/GENES) and co-author of the survey.
Massimo Bordignon, a professor at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan and co-author of the survey, remarks that “the three founding countries should focus on the issues that unite them rather than the ones that divide them. There is clearly enough consensus among parliaments to initiate a process to increase investment spending and to give the European Parliament more legislative powers. For the euro area, the survey also suggests that there is some hope of concluding the Banking Union dossier.”
All in all, the survey provides a clear indication of the blocking power of the populist movements following the next European Parliament election. “The divide between populist parties in Northern and Southern Europe will severely weaken their joint political impact in the European Parliament after the election,” concludes Professor Friedrich Heinemann, co-author of the study and head of the ZEW Research Department “Corporate Taxation and Public Finance”.