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Speech in the plenary debate on the euro area

Gunnar Hökmark (EPP-ED). – Mr President, firstly I should like to thank the rapporteur for his report. It underlines the need for cooperation in strengthening the European economy. It is fair to say that the euro has provided Europe with stability that we have never seen before.

When I listened earlier to my Swedish colleague, it sounded as though it was a problem for the European economy to have low interest rates. However, the truth is that we have lower interest rates than ever before. Does anyone think that the European economy would have been better if we had the interest rates of the 1970s or 1980s, or if we had the budget deficits of those years when Europe was losing out in the global economy? Let us stop dreaming and look at the reality. Today we have a common currency that places the emphasis on and encourages competition, trade and investment and focuses on the need for structural reforms, as well as the need for fiscal discipline. That is good. That provides us with opportunities, because the problem of the European economy is not the interest rates, it is the lack of deregulation, it is the lack of more trade and of more of the internal market. We can see that we are more efficient and more successful where we have opened up markets.

I believe that the euro will never be stronger than the European economy and the discipline of the countries participating in the euro. That also underlines the need for the European Central Bank to be independent, as underlined in the report. That is very important, because otherwise it will lose credibility.

From a Swedish perspective, we will soon have the euro in a number of new countries around the Baltic Sea. I hope we will have a debate in my country that will make it possible for us to join them and other euro countries in the years to come.