Press release: for immediate release
Brussels, 09 September 2020
Press release – for immediate release
Hans-Gert Pöttering and distinguished speakers participated in the first webinar “Together for the Future of Europe” of the European Parliament Former Members Association
On 9 September 2020, The EP Former Members’ Association together with the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, the European Liberal Forum, the Green European Foundation and the European University Institute organised a webinar to promote plural and public debate on shaping the European project.
The moderator, Brian Maguire, welcomed the participants on the online platform Zoom and led the discussion through diverse topics such as the short and long-term implications of the COVID crisis for the European project, Economy and Workplace in a Digital and Social Europe, the Green Deal, Europe’s foreign policy and the quality of our Democracy
Keynote speaker Renaud Dehousse, President of the European University Institute introduced the discussion with his views on the most pressing challenges that Europe faces today: “The COVID crisis has been a game changer. The EU has shown a far greater capacity to act in a cohesive manner. Unlike in previous crises, agenda-setting was done by supranational institutions”. “Political diversity is greater than ever today, especially because of that, I would argue that the key to success is what unites us rather than divides us. Integration is more often not successful when it is focused on functional needs”.
Professor Dehousse also mentioned that “Developing digital democracy will strengthen, and not weaken, representative democracy, better connecting politicians with their constituencies”.
Susanne Rieger, Co-President of the Green European Foundation continued his line of thought and stated that “COVID crisis exposed us to different realities in Europe. We still have borders in our mind and to get rid of that we need a lot of political debate and education to create dialogue with EU citizens. We have to pick up the themes that are important to the people”.
The webinar covered the early stages of the response to the COVID crisis. Jürgen Martens, President of the European Liberal Forum, pointed out the late reaction of the EU institutions and the unprecedented reaction of EU countries closing down borders. Hans-Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament and President of the FMA replied, “We have to identify our transformation from borders to regions and I believe we have realized now that we need better cooperation and integration on all levels in accordance with the principle subsidiarity.” “Solving the migration problem is a psychological exercise, especially for EU Eastern countries, but if we are successful the EU will be better accepted. We expect solutions from the EU.”
Concerning the changing economy and the digitalization of the workplace, Maria João Rodrigues, President of the European Foundation of Progressive Studies (FEPS), said: “We can prepare for the impact of climate change and digitalization. With massive education and innovation policies, we can harness those challenges to create new and meaningful jobs that will contribute the green transition.” “The European way of tackling with the digital revolution can be very different from the US and China.”
On the topic of the expansion of Europe, Mikuláš Dzurinda, President of the Wilfried Martens Centre stated “Europe should keep its door open, to the East and Western Balkans, if their adherence to the West is irreversible and if they are willing to adapt, then they should be still able to join.”
All the panellists agreed on a need for plural and public dialogue to continue to navigate Europe through these challenging times and that a webinar like this is certainly a good start.
All the speakers of the event provided a great input to this very successful first webinar #EUFutureTogether. The FMA, the European political foundations and the EUI will continue promoting public debate in the months to come.
The event was broadcasted on Facebook Live. A large number of people participated and they animated the debate with their numerous questions.