Interview Towards a federal Europe

Thomas Piketty: ‘Budgetary and tax decisions should be decided upon by a European assembly of national elected officials’

In this exclusive interview, the author of Capital in the Twenty-first century revisits one of the main combats led by the T-Dem think tank to reform the functioning of the European Union and make it more equal and democratic.

Published on 8 April 2021 at 16:00

The T-Dem (Treaty of Democratisation), which manifesto can be read here, is a project for a new, fairer and more sustainable social model: T-Dem is based on the idea of a common European budget to reduce inequalities between countries, which can be voted by a democratically elected assembly of Europeans.

Voxeurop: You have often talked about governance reform which appears in the talked-about Democratisation Treaty that you have presented together with Antoine Vauchez, Anne-Laure Delatte and Guillaume Sacriste. To your knowledge, has it had an impact in the world of European politics?

Thomas Piketty: I would like to emphasise that [with issues about EU governance reform] nobody can come up with a perfect miraculous solution. We work with colleagues and citizens, not only in France but also in a lot of European countries -- we've collected more than 100,000 signatures from political leaders, European and national MPs who come from many different political groups, from the centre-right to the centre-left, the left and even from the far-left. It is true that we do not have a lot of signatures from the right and the far-right, but we do have signatures from people belonging to very diverse groups. 

Let's go back to the problem from the beginning: the question is how to get out of the unanimity rule. Currently, if we want to adopt a tax or a budget in Europe, each member state in the Council of the European Union must approve the entire plan submitted to the ECOFIN council and the Ministers of Economy and Finance. Let's suppose that we all agree to move to the majority rule. How would it work? The least complicated solution would be to say that the decisions will still be taken within the current institutional framework, with the European Council (of heads of state and government) or the Council of Ministers on the one hand, and the current European Parliament on the other. But in the European Council, or the Council of Ministers, the rule would be applied by a qualified majority (that is, 55% of the member states representing 65% of the population) rather than by unanimous vote. 

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