The former President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, concluded a recent speech at the Catholic University of Lille with an encouragement to Europe by quoting the enigmatic motto of the city of Bruges: “More is in you”. The medieval motto would benefit from adorning the pediments of the European Council and Parliament as an invitation to those who enter them to go beyond their domestic interests to the benefit of mutual gain. In fact, more solutions lie within our Europe: the responses to the pandemic have provided a striking demonstration of this. The vaccine production and campaign along with the recovery plan, which is currently being rolled out, illustrate the resources of the EU-27. What was previously unsuspected in their unity. The 30th anniversary this month of the Maastricht Treaty, which laid the foundations for the euro, and the 35th anniversary of Erasmus are reminders of the lasting benefits of the ‘plus’ brought about by our integration. On a simple human scale, David Sassoli, who died last month, left his mark on his contemporaries with the inner strength that animated his political commitment. Our President, Enrico Letta, paid him a sensitive and personal tribute in the European Parliament.
The Union has more to offer if it does not divide itself. Its unity holds a potential that is still capable of astonishing. More is to be gained from its integrated market of 450 million people. Neither Russia (whose GDP is close to Spain’s for three times as many inhabitants) nor China can do without it. Dependence on Russian gas is by no means inevitable. Here too, more is possible between us: by interconnecting our networks, by storage, by joint purchases, by diversifying the countries of supply, also by means of renewables and energy efficiency, we could manage in less than a decade to overcome by ourselves this vulnerability that Moscow exploits. In the immediate future, as a reaction to Russia’s belligerent intentions, more sanctions at 27 are ready. Financial and technological, immediate and longer term, they are intended to be painful.
More is also to be found in the Europe-Africa relationship. This is the ambitious objective of the next African Union/European Union summit scheduled for 17th and 18th February in Brussels. Partnerships in the fields of health, climate, youth employment, mobility, migration and security should lay the foundations for a new alliance, which is also intended to be complemented by a major European project for investment in infrastructure throughout the world: the Global Gateway. France’s setbacks in Mali, which also concern the EU, show, along with other political crises currently shaking the region, the difficulty but also the urgency of such partnerships.
The Jacques Delors Institute has joined forces with an African think tank, Wathi, based in Dakar. A first joint webinar will be held on the eve of the Euro-African summit to cross-check our analyses on shared issues. In addition, a new working group dedicated to geopolitics is being set up by our Vice-President, Nicole Gnesotto. These initiatives can be found in our 2022 work programme, which you can consult via this newsletter. Faced with challenges as diverse as they are worrying, such as energy, democracy, poverty, trade and budgetary support for the economy, health and demography, we are looking for ways in which European action can provide its indispensable added value. To quote the Belgian motto this time, ‘there is strength in unity”.
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