joi, 1 octombrie 2020

The state of European society

Ursula von der Leyen's charismatic and optimistic speech is good and necessary, but how many European citizens feel at peace today? The pandemic crisis is enormous and long-lasting. The economic recession is apparent and heavy months await us. Gradually, many jobs will disappear, and again youth unemployment will reach huge levels.

Gradually the protectionist, patriotic,
and nationalist messages will appear from all corners of the Union. Brexit and the American elections add to this deserted landscape, making me ask directly - what hopes does the European citizen have? I am referring here especially to the citizen who really believes that the European Union is a useful project and wants peace, freedom of movement and economic progress on the European continent. But he or she wants something else. They want a European Union that has leadership when there are problems that need to be solved, not just glorious speeches. Certainly no one is waiting for answers like those from 10 years ago, when in the midst of the financial crisis, the EU told them that it did not have the necessary economic competences and that only the Member States were responsible for rectifying the situation.


The European Union has the capacity to anticipate the crisis of 2021, be it pandemic, economic or societal. A joint project between the European structure and the Member States is still needed to give citizens security. I am not referring to something similar to the European Convention of about 20 years ago, which ended with the crisis of 2005 (the European constitution failed). We need to talk about the future of the EU in a formal framework, but also inclusive, without reaching schemes like ‘Brussels talks to Brussels’ or ‘in Berlin and Paris the future of the EU is decided’.


The European societal link is in the hands of the European political parties, and I refer especially to the four big and traditional ones: EPP, PES, ALDE and Greens. European parties have a chance to prove that they are at the level of the importance of the time we live in. It is not a question now of making lists for the European elections in 2024, it is time to present solutions to the current crisis. But European solutions, with doctrinal anchors. There is no need for a new European treaty, there is no need for primary elections, that is not what the citizen is interested in now. Rethink the main themes to the current reality, have a pan-European consistency and think about the citizen.


We need to clarify more precisely how we see industrial development in the EU (with industrial champions and SMEs), what the future of the common defence policy is, how we see the African continent as a source of real cooperation, what the approach is to global multilateralism and, of course, what not, whether or not a euro budget is needed. Surely, we must not forget the Green Deal, digitalisation of the health care system, but everything needs to be focused on European society. Point the vector in the direction of accountability, not on finding the excuse.

We are not talking about restarting the EU, but about structuring and streamlining the EU.


And by the way, the clock is ticking, and the window of opportunity will close in a few months.


Dan LUCA / Brussels

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