The agenda for reform should address the overarching issues that the EU's member states are unable to advance in their interests. Within the eurozone, this means an explicit arrangement by which, in exchange for member states' continuation and deepening of structural reform, there will be greater fiscal flexibility and monetary-policy action to allow stronger growth and avoid deflation.
Selling reform to each EU country will be easier if it is part of a grand bargain in which pain and gain are seen to be fairly balanced. For the Union as a whole, progress on consolidating the single market is needed, especially in the service sector; and policymakers should make a big push for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Moreover, the best ideas concerning infrastructure and a European jobs program should be incorporated into the agenda for change. Efforts on these fronts should be directed toward showing how the jobs and industry of the future can be created by concerted European action.
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Likewise, energy policy is now of vital importance, not only for Europe's competitiveness, but also as a result of events in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. The EU has never pursued a common energy policy with the vigor that it requires; yet its impact would be transformative. A common energy policy and integrated energy markets would benefit businesses and consumers (not least in the UK) and reduce Europe's dependence on foreign supplies.
Finally, if Europe wants to exercise power commensurate with its economic weight, it must have the capacity to play its part both in military operations and in the essential role of security-sector building in potential partners emerging from turmoil or conflict. This is not just about spending. It is also about synergies. Recent experience from North and Sub-Saharan Africa shows how such a capability could be used.
Of course, one central part of this agenda would be a program of subsidiarity, along the lines for which the British government and others are agitating. Again, there is a wealth of suggestions on how such a program would work. The mood and timing is right, and action in this area would address an element of European governance that causes anger across the political spectrum.
I want to be clear about what I mean about this reform agenda for Europe. I do not mean the normal Council conclusions put together at the last minute of a packed and routine meeting. I mean a proper and precise program — call it a manifesto for change — that tells the Commission exactly what it is supposed to do and gives the Commissioners the support they need to do it.
Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007, is Special Envoy for the Middle East Quartet.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2014.