Kairos Hearing 1994.
Introductory statement by the moderator
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure and a privilege for me to welcome you all here in this brandnew building of the European Parliament (EP). We are thankful for the assistance of the Socialist Faction and the Green Faction in the EP for the availability of this building. You all know the topic of today: "The political responsibility of the European Union for the international financial order in view of sustainable development, employment and social justice".
We all came together in order to reflect on the last fifty years since the signing of the agreement of the Bretton Woods conference which gave birth to our present economic and financial system by founding the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Two conclusions seem to be indispensible against this background: Firstly, that already in the 70s there were causes for concern regarding the effectiveness of these institutions. And secondly, that in the meantime there is increasing evidence that the international financial order of today does not meet the challenges of the 21st century.
In relation to the 70s and the 80s I just want to say that primarily it were just the voices of the people of the South which were heard and which were referring to an increasing poverty and growing indebtedness. These voices will be heard today as well. And I think you will be struck by the parallels in what they state about the facts which they found in the different parts of the world. But these voices are now echoed, so to say, by scientific experts and a programmatic critique. It is not a minor critique, if for instance the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) states about the 80s that the Bretton Woods institutions then failed to support many developing countries at the time of their greatest need. And it is not an innocent side remark when Percy Mistry, former chief of staff of the World Bank finance department, now publicly declares that the 90s should be the time for those physicians to heal themselves. But there is also an increasing evidence echoed here by no less than President Mitterand that the institutions are not adequate to enter the 21st century.
And, indeed, when we look at it in terms of the necessity to work towards sustainable development the systems of life on this planet then we can just say that the whole lack of control of money movements and the lopsided creation of international liquidities just take away the possibility of sustainable development in the future. And here the European Union (EU) comes in inavoidably. It has to take its responsibility in those matters, for we are all aware of the fact that without a clear manifestation of such a political responsibility the world of global finance will wrap itself up easily in a pretended autonomy instead of being opened up and contextualised in terms of what the world really needs. Saying this, however, brings us also in the realm of possible resistance and reservations. We have to come to grip with the resistant reality not only of a global but also of a European making. Let me just give you one illustration directly related to the hearing of this day. Of course, the organisers have done their utmost to show you at least the presence of one acting minister of finance from the member states of the community. For their European Council of Ministers is responsible for the monetary policy within the Community in relation to the international monetary order. But the Council which only can decide unanimously simply cannot jump further than the will of the most reluctant and most egoistic selfish member state, and then it is not a pleasure to defend common conclusions supposed that they even deserve that name. The so called democratic deficit in the EU here reaches an absolute climax. Nevertheless, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is this world in which we have to go on also today.
The morning session will be related to the question how the international financial order behaves in terms of the global demand for sustainable development. In the afternoon we will look more sharply to the threat of growing global financial instability to the social cohesion here within the community. We will begin by listening to the voices of the witnesses and the experts. They will introduce shortly the questions and demands which were prepared and which will be answered by the representatives of the Commission and the EP. Our time will be short. So I beg you as your moderator, not to see my hardness at some times as a lack of friendliness in relation to you. And just to be clear, only in the afternoon session there will be some room, some time for a public debate, not in the morning session.