How good is Piketty's plan to save Europe?

Economist Thomas Piketty has made an appeal to save Europe in a manifesto. Together with dozens of well-known figures from politics, business and academia he proposes levying harmonised pan-European taxes on companies, wealth and carbon emissions and using the money for social purposes. The continent lacks social ambition, and this is strengthening anti-European movements, he argues.

Open/close all quotes
The Guardian (GB) /

Vital impulse for a debate on justice

The EU has done far too little to fight the growing rift between rich and poor, The Guardian writes in support of Piketty:

“It is a tragedy that across the continent the EU has become a scapegoat for social tensions it was not responsible for. Nowhere is this more evident than in Britain. There is an increasing awareness about the lack of fiscal and social justice in Europe. Despite the existential threat, so far the EU's response - encapsulated by this June's Meseberg declaration - has been thin on policies and vague on promises. This is a serious error, given the divergence of living standards across the continent. What is needed are practical measures to give life to good intentions. We applaud Mr Piketty for starting the discussion.”

Denník N (SK) /

Divorced from reality

The manifesto contains some interesting ideas that, however, stand stand little chance of working in reality, Dennik N believes:

“A business tax of 37 percent for big companies, for example, would be very controversial indeed. Slovakia would certainly not agree to its key investors suddenly having to pay twice as much in taxes as they do now. And we're now seeing in France what reactions to a CO2 tax can look like. President Macron's decision to raise the price for fossil fuels - which is tantamount to a CO2 tax - met with violent protests. ... On the other hand, in recent years the agenda in the EU has often been set by the far right. It was only a matter of time before the left hit back.”