The US State Department official responsible for the EU explains why Britain should remain part of Europeby Jay Elwes / November 13, 2014 / Leave a comment
“Clearly austerity has its time, but there also are times for investment,” says Julieta Valls Noyes, the US State Department official with responsibility for relations with the European Union and western Europe. She spoke exclusively to Prospect, her remarks coming as the eurozone risks slipping towards deflation.
Asked whether Europe, Britain included, has gone too far with austerity policies, Valls Noyes says: “I have heard people say that. This is not a question that we necessarily would draw broad conclusions about, but we certainly would welcome seeing in some countries that are able to do so a greater focus on investment as well.”
Valls Noyes, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, indicates that the idea of greater spending is finding favour in Europe. On a recent trip to Germany, she says “I heard a lot of talk… saying that they needed more investment in their infrastructure and that there needed to be a focus not just on austerity and exports, but also on domestic investment and on other avenues toward growth.”
In the 2014 Budget, the Treasury stated that total public and private infrastructure spending between 2011 and 2013 had been $45bn. In capital spending plans set out by George Osborne at the 2013 spending round, the Chancellor promised £100bn of capital investment in 2015-16 for transport, science, schools, housing broadband and flood defences. That is a substantial increase in government capital investment, although the general election in 2015 makes it uncertain whether Osborne will be the one to implement it.
Valls Noyes also discussed the rise of eurosceptic politics in Britain. When asked whether the US would prefer Britain to remain within the EU, she says: “Short answer—yes.” The first reason concerns sanctions on Russia: “One of the most important things that the United Kingdom can do is to help maintain EU resolve in maintaining the sanctions,” she says. Britain’s role “is to help maintain that pressure and maintain the EU coherency and the united EU approach in maintaining the sanctions.
“Having Britain, which has been very strong and has been one of the strongest proponents of a forceful response to…