The EU needs a reset button

Friends of Europe presented in Brussels their report “Vision for Europe”

Photo: Maria Koleva

Appointment of Deputy Prime Minister for EU affairs in every Member State and three super commissioners reporting on sustainability, security and climate change is one of the 10 ideas for reform in the policy toolbox for the new EU mandate, prepared by Friends of Europe, a Brussels-based leading think tank.

The report “Vision for Europe”, part of the #EuropeMatters project, was led by Pascal Lamy, Trustee at Friends of Europe, who before served as EU commissioner and director of the World Trade Organisation. The paper was delivered after a year of research, and underpinned by a citizens' poll and interviews with senior policy makers and stakeholders.

The EU's relationship with citizens and its Member States is broken and needs fixing, reads the report, manifesting how to address citizen's concerns and expectations. It also gives strong signal for political parties throughout the Union about little less than three weeks away from the European elections.

The EU needs to press the reset button on how it readies itself, adapts and meets the challenges of the early part of this century, said Pascal Lamy, presenting the report at Friends of Europe's TownHall Europe in Brussels. “Europe will have to behave differently and take the initiative to readjust, reorder and redefine itself. This calls for more resilient, agile institutions and policy coherence,” he stated.

Citizens want stronger, more ambitious, accountable and transparent EU institutions, and in order to respond to their expectations, the EU needs to implement key reform action points that Friends of Europe will present to the European Council and to the new European Parliament.

Europeans desire as well that the EU puts more focus on climate change through review of fossil fuel subsidies. They also want a more ambitious plan for a better, faster, measurable deal for carbon reduction.

The citizens expect more inclusive Union that will close the gender gap and deliver equality, bridge economic disparities across Member States and target those who are least socially mobile.

They aspire for improvement of EU's crisis management in solidarity and mutual assistance, communicating the value of a 360-degree approach to EU peace, security and defence.

Dharmendra Kanani, Director of Insights at Friends of Europe, who moderated the debate, commented that the challenge that lies ahead for the EU is to proactively respond to “the changing trends in our modern society” - in short, the EU needs a new social contract. It will require compromise and consensus-building. “But if we are to sustain the Europe we love and care for, we need to nurture it and shape it in accordance with the desires of the people and communities for whom it was founded,” he emphasised.

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