Getting back to growth is possible for Europe. Liberals have always had clear policy positions for restoring the part of growth in Europe. Our liberal friends in member states and on the EU level have influenced a lot to promote growth agenda for Europe. Let us emphasize the legacy of liberal policy in Estonia.
More single market
There is a broad consensus in the EU that we can reach high growth potential with further market integration and liberalisation. On the internal market, continuing to remove regulatory obstacles to businesses, especially by more ambitious implementation of the Services Directive (implementation still not over). On the external side, creating conditions for free trade with USA. TTIP is our chance for additional growth gains.
Liberals are quite reserved about predicting exact economic growth gains. However, we know that every market opening, especially when exemptions from free trade principles are minimized, contributes growth. This means TTIP is a good idea. If it is so easy, why it needs to be so hard? The answer is in populism and opposition to liberal solutions. Everybody wants growth and jobs, but not everyone want sound market policies to promote growth and more business opportunities, based on innovation, private investment and free trade. This is our liberal advantage in politics.
We need to be reserved about inflation of requests for exemptions from TTIP. This is the same story as with our single market for services. If not 100% free market, it should not legitimize the goal to create only 70% market freedom. We can still think about at least 95%, and even more.
TTIP is a great long-term opportunity to set conditions for transatlantic single market. Exempting audiovisual and public services from transatlantic liberalisation is a step to conserve socialism. Liberals need to promote the free will of consumers, instead of selfish bureaucratic judgements on what needs to be “protected”. Sure, we need to protect European freedom from bureaucratic interventions and instead promote market oriented public policy management.
Better regulation as the priority
One of top EU priorities is better regulation. Certainly this does not mean more regulation, but regulatory quality in policy making. Member states such as Netherlands and UK are the Frontrunners in this initiative. Regulation can be useful if it is very small and horizontal its scope and focused on creating broad and open conditions for free market. Regulation needs to be simple, proportionate and justified. The EU has a strong proportionality principle in its regulatory policy which needs to be implemented in practice. Comprehensive (less and) better regulation and deregulation agenda is a huge opportunity because reducing and eliminating administrative burden can bring additional growth. Regulation costs a lot and steals property rights of those who create new value. Therefore, assessing impact of regulation, measuring regulatory costs and cutting the red-tape is for sure the cure for growth. It is the task of the EU-level lawmakers and those in member states. Regulatory cooperation is also important part of TTIP agenda for cutting the red-tape and harmonisation on both sides.
Digital single market
The next potential is the digital aspect of our European single market. DSM is an excellent opportunity also because our liberal friend Andrus Ansip is now the Commission’s vice president for this area. Estonian solutions in e-governance can be our guide for better Europe.
Jobs are going digital and e-business is (or should soon become) regular thing for maintaining competitiveness. Government may be slower than businesses in adapting e-govt and open data solutions. However, in order to promote growth, policies should aim at creating the 2nd generation Points of Single Contact (EUGO network) and removing anti-digital administrative barriers. The aim is enhance ease of staring business and especially the start-ups. Education reforms should be primarily focused on more private education and more digital skills and e-learning agenda.
Liberal solutions for growth are relatively simple. However, we do not offer blind faith that policy making can solve all problems. It is also up to every individual to take responsibility for growth. The role of our governments in Europe should be to downsize its bad influences whenever and wherever they block our liberal dreams.
We want very easy conditions to start new businesses. It is often the case that some bureaucrats do not share the same thought. They rather want control over the process. In the meantime, those same bureaucrats will blame many other things, including liberalism, for the lack of growth.
This is our challenge to promote responsible policies which will enable easy market access for everyone, not just for the chosen ones. Our Europe has a good future which mostly depends on us and our courage to combat barriers to growth. We think that growth is up to creative potentials of numerous individuals who take their risks in order to satisfy our needs and improve the quality of our living.