EM Germany President Wend: In order to strengthen Europe, we must learn from past mistakes!
Seldom have a few sentences spoken in a Bavarian beer tent had more international effect. Following the disappointing NATO and G7 summits with US president Trump, Angela Merkel made it clear: the times in which we “could completely depend on others” are “to a certain extent, over”, and Europeans would have to take their fate into their own hands. The solidarity effect of this development comes at just the right time for Europe, thinks the EBD President Dr. Rainer Wend in his European policy statement on the future of Europe. He is making the case for pragmatism, a sense of proportion and self-confidence: “We don’t need a technocratic-intellectual narrative or a large menu plan. Honest, healthy cooking is the order of the day. More collaborative parliamentary democracy is required in Europe. So too is appropriate legislative and financial provision, with more expertise for the big questions that the EU has to solve.”
The contributions of the EBD members in the simultaneously published EBD Telegram on the future of Europe underline this and reflect the common course of the , developed in a comprehensive consultation process. On 26th June these proposals for the further development of the EU will be a topic at the EBD-General Assembly in the Italian embassy. Following Peter Altmaier in 2016, the guest speaker in 2017 will be the Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Delegates of the 249 member organisations will have the last word on the political course of the EBD in the coming year. Everyone is in agreement about where the course of discussions should lead, says Wend, “The basic direction of discussions must be: against populism and protectionism, for a modern, assertive European democratic community.”
Full text of the European policy statement:
We are out of the woods! Trump and Brexit have thrown together the EU27 and are making it definitively clear, even to the last isolationists between Budapest and Bruges, that the Europeans must take their fate into their own hands. Ironically, however, even after the economic data, the mood on the old continent is better than it is on the island or across the pond. But Schadenfreude is not allowed! Hardly anyone could deny that the Euro needs a stronger political community which strengthens rights and democracy in the member states once more and has a correspondingly positive external impact.
We will hear a lot about the future of Europe in the coming months. The debate is fuelled by the pleasing show of flags on the streets – for Europe and against corrupt governments, but also by Emmanuel Macron’s ‘zeal for reform from above’. Think tanks are gearing up to join the debate, government Sherpas are fathoming the impossible, while head writers read their lips or leaked concepts. Nothing is really going to become concrete. There will be no fundamental change in European policy before October. It is, however, good that concepts are being discussed in the election campaign. There will be no shortage of buzzwords – eurozone parliament, finance minister, EU-army. Campaigners will stage numerous mock battles, and depending on the language, throw smoke grenades. The German election campaign must not undermine French reforms and in so doing scare off their own voters with supposedly excessive EU-reforms.
The EU27 must, without doubt, reform in order to survive, and in order to remain a global force. What action must it take and in which direction should it head? This is what the EBD members will be discussing on 26th June together with Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who will take a position on the political direction at the EBD General Assembly. The main proposal of the EBD Executive Board on the Political Agenda 2017/18 is an honest path. We don’t need a technocratic-intellectual narrative or a large menu plan. Honest, healthy cuisine is the order of the day. More collaborative parliamentary democracy is required in Europe. New and complicated structures are also not compulsory for the eurozone. After all, following Brexit, it will make up 85% of the EU-economy. Along with more expertise for the big questions that the EU has to solve, there will also be a need for appropriate legislative and financial provision. On this basis, the EBD Executive Board would like to put the debate back on its feet again with a resolution of the General Assembly allowing ample room for bold proposals.
The EU is facing a mountain of new tasks and challenges. For all the relief at the orderly election results, we must learn together from past mistakes. There now needs to be a wide-ranging discussion on the future of the EU, involving representatives from all social spheres. In the five white paper scenarios for the future of Europe the European Commission has laid the foundation for a broad and nuanced debate on Europe’s future, including the reflection papers. For social forces in Germany, it is above all a chance to conduct an open dialogue with politicians, in order to collectively shape the EU reform process in the coming years.
With its newly enhanced and sharpened profile of European policy, the EBD is well-positioned to set decisive benchmarks in the debate on the future of the EU. The basic direction of the discussion must be: against populism and protectionism, for a modern, assertive European democratic community.
The EBD Telegram on the future of the EU provides an overview of the positions of the member organisations in Germany’s largest network for European policy. You can read the Telegram here.
You can find the EBD Executive Board’s resolution on the white paper here.