Friday, 20 November 2009

The Future of Europe

An enjoyable - and thought provoking conference - was held yesterday by Chatham House. The title was "The EU's prospects 20 years after the Fall of Communism". There were four sessions - after a keynote address by Maria Asenius (State Secretary to Minister for EU Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom [recently nominated for European Commissioner by Sweden] ) -

  1. EU National Economies: Lessons from the past 20 years and models for the future
  2. The Future of the EU Single Market
  3. Domestic Security: A new frontier for European Integration
  4. Can Europe Hope to be a world leader?

There were some first class presentations - and lots of food for thought. For me four main themes stood out

  1. The need to establish a European VISION for its own future. Europe needs to move beyond 'navel-gazing' and set out the unique and positive role it wishes to play in the emerging multipolar world. To sum up a number of contributions - we now have the institutions in place - it's time to think about the use of European power in the world - and to project a self confident idea of European values and power. One speaker said that we must work with the USA not as a follower, but as a player in our own right.
  2. The need to harness the WILL to "punch at or above our own weight". Europe is an economic superpower - with a large population; great wealth; and a huge single market - yet politically it remains in the Second Division.
  3. DELIVERY must become a reality, instead of too much empty rhetoric - and unfulfilled promises.
  4. There needs to be more ENGAGEMENT with European citizens. That will only happen if a vision can be articulated; the will to take a place in the first rank of the international community is evident - and there is delivery upon the promise.

Your observations would be appreciated. Is the European Union capable of achieving the above? Should it be aiming higher? What should our relationship with the United States be based upon?

Either comment on this post on 'blogger' or email me privately here