Letter from Brussels
Europe in transition
Two months ago, we said that the EU was at a political, economic, social and emotional turning point. We saw converging trends for less Europe. Events since then, paradoxically, have helped Europeans to rediscover themselves and could be the trigger to revive the European project and economy.
Clearly, we are still in a period of transition:
- Political choices and decisions in some countries are reshuffling the cards of the international arena. Pro-European centrist reformer Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency over far-right protectionist rival Marine Le Pen in early May. We await the upcoming elections in the UK, Austria, Italy and Germany.
- US President Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change – to a consistently negative reaction in Europe but an uncertain impact.
- China has pivoted towards Europe and its commitment to international cooperation in trade, and the fight against climate change.
- The massive ransomware campaign, WannaCry, caused havoc when it hit public and private sector organisations in many parts of the world, stressing again our dependence on technology and vulnerability.
- The surge of terrorism in Europe since 2014, with attacks in Belgium, France, German, Italy and mostly recently the UK, has emphasised the need for European cooperation on security.
The EU has engaged into a debate on its future model, scope and priorities. The debate started with the publication of a White Paper on the Future of Europe and will end by the time of the European Parliament elections in June 2019.
In this White Paper, the European Commission proposes five scenarios for the Union’s evolution depending on the choices Europe makes: “carrying on”, “nothing but the Single market”, “those who want more do more”, “doing less more efficiently” and “doing much more together”. Three topic-related reflection papers are also under discussion: the social dimension of Europe, harnessing globalisation and deepening of the economic and monetary union.
“We Europeans must really take our fate into own hands… We must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans,” said Angela Merkel after the G7 and NATO Summits.
The success of Europe will depend on its ability to navigate the waves of change.