Letter: EU fight for jobs

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The Independent Culture
EU fight for jobs

Sir: You rightly call for perspective in the debate about converging corporate and savings taxes in the European Union (leader, 2 December). The wider discussion about combating unemployment in Europe is crucial to understanding that perspective.

With the victory of the German Socialists and Greens in recent elections, there has begun a meltdown of monetary policy in Europe. It is clear that the French and German governments will seek not only to resume the interventionist agenda pioneered by Jacques Delors, but to go way beyond it, to meet the global crisis.

I had the task of building on Delors' report, and reporting to the European Parliament on the plans for European economic action against unemployment. In 1994 and 1995 we secured overwhelming majorities for the proposals to create 15 million new jobs, and halve the rate of European unemployment by the end of the century.

I received every possible encouragement from the late John Smith, but the response from new Labour was frigidity itself. It is clear that Tony Blair was in complete sympathy with the Council of Ministers at Essen, in 1994, which effectively neutered the Delors White Paper.

The government of the united left in France has, ever since Jospin's election victory, sought to find the way to reopen this agenda to create jobs. The idea of joint action, in which several governments agree to do the same kinds of things in order to generate employment, has been taken up and produced modest progress. But this must be reinforced by combined action.

The German Oskar Lafontaine supports the call for a European economic government to match, pace and control the European Central Bank. If monetary policy is not to escape democratic control, then European political institutions have a great vacuum to fill. Until it is filled, mass unemployment will continue to rule in Europe.


(Nottingham North and Chesterfield)

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire