Post-Summit Policy Briefing

18 March 2013

Although the March 2013 EU summit was much less dramatic than previous ones, implementation of measures previously agreed remains patchy and concrete new initiatives to boost growth and tackle youth unemployment are still lacking, putting the long-term stability of the euro at risk, heard participants in this Post-Summit Briefing.

Janis A. Emmanouilidis, a senior policy analyst at the European Policy Centre, had three main expectations for the months to come:

  1. Don’t expect any major breakthroughs or major new initiatives – the relative lack of pressure or systemic risk to the euro had increased the prevalent ‘let’s wait and see’ approach.
  2. All eyes would continue to be on Germany, especially ahead of September’s elections and their potential implications for EU affairs. He said the outcome in both respects was very hard to predict, but whatever the make-up of the new government, he did not expect radical changes to Germany’s current EU policy.
  3. The coming months would see an increasing focus on the social and political aspects of the crisis, as the persisting recession increased the need for policymakers to find ways to avoid the danger of a political and social “explosion”.

Matthias Krupa, Brussels correspondent at German newspaper Die Zeit, said that normally when journalists were bored at EU summits, it was a sign that politicians were doing well. But despite the boredom this time around, he was not so sure whether the situation today was drama-free – especially given that “the thrill of the crisis” had once again reared its head, this time in Cyprus, some 14 hours after the summit’s conclusion.

Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Economist at the European Policy Centre, said it was very difficult to be positive about what had come out of the summit, the subtext to which had been that EU governments were yet to do even the modest things they had agreed to do last year.

He warned that the EU was at a critical juncture, even though it may not look like it at the moment. If EU leaders were going to change trajectory to avert an eventual political crisis, it was imperative to do so now, said Zuleeg, calling for much more to be done to boost growth.