April 6, 2018
Guest blog post by Charles de Marcilly, Head of the Brussels office of the Fondation Robert Schuman.
A wake up call! In a nutshell, this is the key message provided in the Schuman report 2018, presented on Tuesday 10th April at the European Parliament. The report, which presents the EU’s main challenges and opportunities for 2018 in collaboration with the best experts and an exclusive interview with Emmanuel Macron, might be a wake up call for the European community. As 2019 will be an election year, 2018 is the last significant moment for reforming Europe before 2020.
Just like in the Schuman report, it is definitely time to be pragmatic about Europe. To face what doesn’t work and what should be done to increase and empower European integration, when necessary. But also to recognize what does work.
The European economy, after struggling through the 2008 financial crisis, is finally getting better. In 2017, Gross domestic product (GDP) within the European Union reached up to 13 billion euros and unemployment is decreasing in all European countries, reminds the Shuman report. Thanks to the Single Market, the Europe brings more foreign investment than any other continent. The election of Emmanuel Macron in France, a pro-european leader willing to reform Europe and promote European sovereignty, also favours a new dynamic for European integration.
At the same time, Euroscepticism and populism gain ground elections after elections, taking part in European coalition governments, or in the worse case, leading to the exit of a Member State.
The European Union has failed and disappointed in many cases, but it now needs to get its citizens’ trust back. In order to do so, it has to focus on concrete sovereign measures: a solid economical and social policy, a strong defence strategy, and a clear position in the immigration crisis, which has been announced as a cornerstone of the EU agenda in 2018. For such measures to succeed, the EU’s capacity for action must be based on Member States mutual solidarity. In the current process of establishing EU’s post-Brexit future and budget after 2020, and following the Bratislava Summit of 2016 on the future of the EU, solidarity can’t wait and has to give rise to strong collective measures now. The risk being not to seize this momentum and to postpone, once again, vital reforms.
Moreover, to recover a full credibility and legitimacy towards its citizens and the international community, Member States and the European institutions need to agree on a consensual definition of the European project itself, reconsidering the Union’s political scale.
On the international stage, our current environment stresses that unity is strength and that the relevant political scale is the continental one. The increasing instability and the deterioration of the post-war international order, along with the election of Donald Trump and his disengagement policy within the Atlantic Alliance, make it vital to build a solid European Defence Union. But unity is also a necessity. Global challenges such as the immigration crisis, terrorism, and global warming require a common and coordinated action. To act among the table leaders, Member states need to promote common preferences.
Twenty-seven experts and political figures contribute to this reflection in the Schuman report on the state of Union 2018 now available.Guest contributor