Press release: for immediate release

Former Members Association of the European Parliament Roundtable “Together for the Future of Europe”

On 1 June 2021, the FMA organised a public roundtable discussion “Together for the Future of Europe” about the “EU Post-Covid recovery based on Cohesion principles and values”. This roundtable discussion was opened by President Hans-Gert Pöttering and moderated by journalist and Brussels expert, Brian Maguire.

The discussion consisted of a panellist debate featuring prominent speakers. In the first panel discussion, Director of Growth and Innovation at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission Mikel Landabaso, Visiting Fellow at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies Konrad Niklewicz and Former MEP and Special Adviser to the Foundation of European Progressive Studies on the European Green Deal Saïd El Khadraoui discussed the balance of the European Economic Recovery.

Mikel Landabaso opened the debate by explaining the importance of post covid EU Recovery: “The impact of the crisis can be summarized with one word: asymmetry. Those who are weaker were hit harder. In this political setting, the main question is how to maintain the middle class and reasonable economic activity throughout the entire territory.”

“The challenge is to navigate the budget that we have gathered in solidarity to the right direction and that direction is innovation not only in health but also towards green policy. A smart digitalisation and sustainable investment”, he concluded.

Konrad Niklewicz put the emphasis of his contribution to the debate on the importance of European Cities. “If we look at the last few years, countries have been building their economy around capitals. It accounts for the larger part of most countries’ GDP. They are the hubs of economy, politics and innovation,” he said.

On his turn, Saïd El Khadraoui, put the emphasis on a long solution to the crisis. “There is a European dimension in the issue of health that is very much connected to a long term commitment to a climate-compatible recovery. On top of all the public money available we also need to navigate private investment,” he told the audience.

The second part of the roundtable was a conversation with Professor George Papaconstantinou, about the way to align EU spending to its political priorities and common goals preserving cohesion value.

Professor Papaconstantinou stated clearly that, “A health crisis is like climate change on steroids.” Yet he observed that health governance has never had enough attention. “The debate on how to reformat health governance is a very important one on a global scale and Europe has an important role to play in this debate,” he added.

He also noted the importance of a global cohesion, not just a European. “I am proud that the EU has exported millions of vaccines to the rest of the world.”

The topic of Health Union was largely discussed by both panellists as well as members.

After the roundtable discussion, former Members participated in an exclusive virtual debate with European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira. The event was chaired by FMA President Hans-Gert Pöttering.

Special guests who participated in this debate were former Presidents of the European Parliament and of the Former Members Association José María Gil Robles, Pat Cox and Enrique Barón Crespo as well as the President of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, Mikuláš Dzurinda, and the Secretary General of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), László Andor.

Later this month a special edition of the FMA Bulletin will be published with contributions and reflections from Former European Parliament and FMA Presidents.

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Watch the video created for the 20th anniversary of the FMA here below.