Peter Mandelson’s vision for Europe
Peter Mandelson gave a speech in Berlin on Thursday about the EU and the crisis. It was quite a clear statement of his vision for Europe, which differs in some tonal respects from that of Gordon Brown. Peter Mandelson is clearly still more of a Euromantic than the PM, despite the more positive, team-player tone from No 10 since the global economic crisis began to unfold. But what struck me most was this passage, which could have come from any number of trade union leaders around Europe:
Most importantly of all, people need protection. The world is moving quickly and we need to ensure that people can thrive in this environment. That’s why we need strong social safety nets that actively encourage employment, lifelong learning, strong standards for the workplace.
Of course, the new First Secretary probably considers all those to be achievements rather than goals still some way off, but it’s at least a vision about what Europe should be about that we can share. And though there are things in the speech and accompanying document to oppose (such as continuing support for labour market flexibility and hostility to regulation), there are other things we can support.
For example, he reiterates the case for an active industrial strategy, for greater diversity in the finance sector-dominated UK economy and the export-led German economy (points made by the TUC and DGB respectively in the past), proposals for greening the recovery and broadbanding Europe, an audit of Europe’s skill needs and greater support for apprenticeships.