In The Press

Anthony Hilton: EU’s muscle could be world’s saviour (in the Evening Standard)

30 March 2009

After a period when it looked likely to derail, the G20 train appears to be back on the track. A couple of weeks ago there appeared to be an unbridgeable gulf between the Americans, who were pressing for a co-ordinated global economic stimulus, and the Europeans, who thought there was enough of that already and wanted the meeting to focus on improving the international regulatory architecture.

Now, however, the two sides have stopped shouting at each other and have recognised they both want the same thing, which is to put the world economy back on its feet.

Trouble is that at this stage neither another round of debt-driven stimulus nor a raft of new regulation is going to do anything to achieve that objective, We need to wait a bit to give the stimuli already in place a chance to work through before piling on more. We need to wait a lot longer than that before deciding in the cool light of a post-crisis world what - if any -changes to the regulatory structure will realistically lessen the chances that this kind of disaster will not happen again.

What G20 ought to be concerned with came in a paper today from Britain for New Europe, the lobby group of business leaders who favour constructive engagement with the European Union.

The first point made by this manifesto is that disavowing protectionism is clearly not enough. It wants the G20 leaders to develop and implement a mechanism to monitor and act against protectionism measures that are being undertaken around the world.

Second, it wants G20 to re-start, drive forward with alacrity and complete the Doha trade talks.

Third, within the confines of the G20, the EU itself has to show leadership. It is home to the largest market in the world, worth an estimated $17.6 trillion (£12.4 trillion). While it is responsible for just 7% of the world's population, it comprises 30% of global output. It could use its weight to get the world moving again.

The message surely is that regulation on its own is not enough.

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