Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome: Quo vadis Europa at 27?

Monday, 10 April 2017 10:11
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by Eleonora Lamio (EPOS)
EPOS Insights


In the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, two crucial documents were presented: The White Paper on the Future of Europe, drafted by the European Commission, and the Declaration of Rome, signed by the 27 European leaders in Rome last March 25th . On one hand, the White Paper on the Future of Europe is a document that aims at illustrating the leading themes of the forthcoming European integration, drawing five possible scenarios which may take place in the coming years, describing them and analyzing their pros and cons. On the other hand, in the Declaration of Rome the European leaders have taken note of the efforts that have been done in the last years, and they have renewed their will in pursuing the integration based on common values, human rights and social welfare. The Declaration and the White Paper present both the nowadays main internal and external European treats and challenges which need to be faced as soon as possible.

Some of the main challenges of the European future are connected to the theme of the defense and to the effectiveness of the EU's role in the international arena. The leaders of the 27 European countries have decided that it is time to increase their commitment in the field of security. This includes not an implementation of the security on EU's external borders and all the military aspects including the fight against terrorism(on which we will still collaborate with the North Atlantic Trade Organization) but especially concerns the evolution to more responsible and sustainable migrations policies and to ensure the safe circulation of the citizens. Furthermore, since the trends show that European population represents only the 6% of the global one in 2015 and the power of our currency is decreasing (in 2015, 33% of international transactions used Euro and this data will decrease to 30% in 2017), the EU must implement new solutions to continue playing an influential role in the forthcoming year. For these and many other reasons, EU must keep developing the existing partnerships and build new ones, especially with our neighbors but also with Middle East and Africa; and must as well promote the collaboration with international organizations such as the United Nations, the NATO, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund.

Moreover, the other main issue of the EU future concerns fulfilling an equal and fair economical development, which means sharing with all the Member States of the Union, even with those that joined recently and with the countries that have been severely hit by the 2008 economic crisis, the outcomes of the economic growth. The goal is to develop even more the Single Market and, accordingly, to expand the Monetary Union, taking advantage from the latest technological transformations and embracing our diversity in order to create a strong and solid European economy, which can provide new employments, promote the small and medium-sized enterprises and assure the financial stability of the Member States. The economic growth must be accomplished by taking care of our environment, developing the green energies and the research of clean ways of production. The EU must spread awareness among all the citizens who should make an effort to preserve and became responsible not only for our natural environment bur also our cultural heritage.

However the attention should be addressed to the next following challenge of the EU's future. First, we should mention what the Rome Declaration says about the “social Europe”. The future European development is conceived not only in economical terms but also in social ones. For this reason, since the EU was created as an economic institution with economic objectives, the EU should cope with the difficulties to expand its commitment in a social dimension refining its social instruments. In the last years many achievements have been reached, but more efforts need to be pursued. In order to guarantee to all EU citizens and to make them feel as part of the same community, all the Member States should have the same economic progress and stability, providing an adequate, innovative and accessible social welfare, and respecting the fundamental rights. The EU, also, should promote the new professions linked to globalization and develop new social rights that may permit the evolution of the job market.

The EU should fight all kind of social discrimination, especially the gender and ethical ones. In the UE Member States everybody must have the same opportunities. Moreover, the EU should find ways to fight the unemployment, the social exclusion and poverty, paying particular attention to the role of the youngest generations. The European Union is asked to promote policies which take advantage of the immense potentiality of young adults' talents, which is the biggest educated aged group that the EU has ever had.

The so called "multi-speed Europe" has been one of the most debatable issues ain the last weeks: "We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction, as we have done in the past, in line with the Treaties and keeping the door open to those who want to join later". The Member States that joined the European Union in 2007 have argued that a multi-speed Europe is a way to let them behind and to let prosper only the “traditional” Member States. In Rome, during the celebration of the Treaties, the  Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni assured that all the Member States are equal and that no one will be left behind.

The issue of trust and legitimacy is, perhaps, the major challenge that the European Union is asked to face in the nearest future. According to the White Paper, only 1/3 of the EU citizens trust the EU today, compared to the 50% in the 2000's. It is a fact that trusting the EU institutions is no longer a common feeling among the European citizens. Even though, 2/3 of the Europeans see the EU as a place of stability in our troubled world, 70% support the common currency and 80% believe that the EU is guaranteeing more rights and more freedom to all the citizens.

In this challenging context, populist and nationalist parties are prospering: they are blaming Brussels and the European institutions for all the problems that the Member States are facing, and they are trying to foster the idea that the European Union is an archaic institution and has no longer place to be. Although it is mainly a political rhetoric, it is true that the European citizens are unhappy about several issues, and they continue seeing a gap between promises and results of EU policies. The European Union is asked to face these challenges, assuring its citizens that the political, social, economic and cultural results and effects of the Rome Declaration will be visible soon. Indeed, if the EU wants to fight the raise of populism and the disaffection from the European Dream, it should invest more in education, providing more information about the history, the values and the advantages of the European Union. Therefore, the White Paper drafts five possible scenarios for the European Union: "Carrying on", "Nothing but the single market", "Those who want more do more", "Doing less more efficiently" and "Doing much more together". Each of them can address and respond to the current challenges that the EU is facing.

In spite of all the problems and the difficulties, the future of the European Union is not so dark: the results of the elections in Holland have shown that there is still a large part of EU citizens that want a united European Union and that is struggling to keep the European Dream alive.


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 April 2017 10:27
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