“EasyJet Plus Europe” is the vision of a Europe as a partnership of nation states with a substantially reduced scope of EU law. Its main aim is the promotion of European competitiveness in the world via the completion of the EU Internal Market, enforcement of EU competition policy, promoting innovation, promoting the growth of SMEs, removing social and employment legislation where it is harmful to global competitiveness and more effective and efficient use of the EU budget.
This vision has five main ideas:
Firstly a “freedom to do” agenda. i.e. the vision of “EasyJet Plus Europe”, a “Europe for citizens not a Europe of elites”. This means promoting the Europe which matters most to citizens (freedom to live in, work in/look for work in, travel to, save money in, retire to, buy property in, start businesses and trade goods and services etc other EU states). Actions would be tested to see if they achieve at least one of the above objectives.
Secondly, doing less but doing it better. Since the EU has too many supposed “priorities” and doesn’t give enough time, effort and resources to making them happen, it needs to reduce them and be more focused on those which remain.
§ All EU legislation also should be subject to proper and independently verified regulatory impact assessment (both at draft stage and during the legislative process) to check if it is really needed at EU level, what it will cost to implement, how the costs will be financed and how it will affect those responsible.§ All EU legislation should have “sunset clauses” i.e. dates on which they lapse unless they are renewed
§ If issues are important enough, the EU would not just make policies and pass ill-verified implementation costs to Member States – it would allocate budgetary resources to their implementation.
Thirdly, power should shift towards democratically elected politicians and towards Member States. The institutions would reflect the fact that more power ought to lie with democratically elected politicians so that:
§ The Council of Ministers would set the priorities for the EU§ The Commission would be as a secretariat of the Council of Ministers i.e. only to do what it is directed to do by them and not pretend to be independent. As I found when I was on secondment to the European Commission, it is not – it was my impression that all the senior posts are political appointments (they look homewards to their next job/old allegiances), Commissioners often can’t or don’t manage their Directorates-General and as a result there are turf wars within the Commission (“planting flags” – i.e. fighting for new responsibilities - to claim territory)
§ The resources of the Commission would be reorganised to fit the new priority areas, would be deployed in closer monitoring of implementation of policies and more enforcement actions and would not be engaged in policy making.
Fourthly, the EU budget would be adjusted to reflect the new priorities. A budget is an important statement of what matters to an organisation. The EU budget should be no exception.
One practical example is in the field of EU Structural and Cohesion Funds where:
§ Poor regions and restructuring sectors in rich countries would become national responsibilities, so that Member States would need to decide for themselves how much to spend to support their poor regions and sectors needing restructuring
§ Structural Funds would be time limited to the first ten years after joining the EU. Permanent support undermines enterprise in the EU and creates the moral and political hazard of the welfare dependency mentality
§ Structural Funds would be directed to projects which promote the Internal Market, such as investment in European transport, energy and digital networks.
Finally, EU spending would be better controlled - the EU would formalise the “Accounting Officer” concept, have the means to monitor more closely whether or not the budget is spent on what it was voted for and test expenditure for ex post value for money.