The Eurozone crisis and the protracted, months-long negotiations on a new Greek bailout have broughtdeep cracks in the European integration project to the fore . It also revealeddifferences between Europe’s progressive parties. Now Europe seems to be faced with a choice: more Europe and closer integration, or a reversion to nation states and national interests? Faced with this choice, the parliamentary group of the SPD invited social-democratic and socialist parliamentarians from across the EU to Berlin for the first inter-parliamentary conference, entitled “Towards a Progressive Europe”. Das Progressive Zentrum organised the conference on behalf of the group.
Financial and economic policies were the focus of the event. Over the course of the two-day conference, a broad range of issues wascovered in four round-table discussions, ranging from financial market regulation and banking supervision to growth and investment policies as well as tax andfiscal budgetary coordination. Each round-table was opened with an input statement by high-level experts, including OECD and European Commission representatives. Benoit Cœuré, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, gave the input for the closing panel discussion. A highlight of the conference was the speech held by the German Federal Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as part of an evening reception, organised by Das Progressive Zentrum together with the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung. In his speech the Foreign Minister called for closer cooperation amongst EU Member States in light of the Euro- and migration crises so that they might master the current challenges they face.
The participants essentially agreed that Europe’s economic problems can only be solved through better coordination and deeper integration. The current competition between member states in taxation was often criticised and deemed detrimental to state, citizens and to small- and medium-sized enterprises. In this field in particular many participants called for better coordination between the EU Member States. A prerequisite for such a measure is, however, greater mutual understanding – to which formats such as the inter-parliamentary conference can make a notable contribution.