Public stakeholders event in Warsaw
On 16 January 2014 demosEUROPA - Centre for European Strategy organised a debate in Warsaw on “New Pact for Europe – Strategic Options for Europe’s Future”. During the debate panelists and the audience discussed the strategic options for the future of the European Union which have been worked out as part of the New Pact for Europe project.
Following a presentation of the five strategic otpions by Janis A. Emmanouilidis, Director of Studies of the European Policy Centre, Paweł Świeboda, President of demosEUROPA, opened the debate by asking which of the five options for Europe's future – “back to basics”, “consolidating past achievements”, "moving ahead ambitiously", “leaping forward” or “changing the 'more/less Europe' logic” – will serve us best.
Adam Jasser, Secretary of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, referred to the options. He said: “There is a majority for number two and Poland is in this majority”. What Poland wants is further integration defined by the will of the people. The question is – what is the will of people? In Poland, we have a overwhelmingly favourable EU society. If you want to keep it this way you need to make sure that further integration does not destroy the current trust. We need to make sure that there is legitimacy in what we do. Stretching that the mandate of institutions has a limit. At the same time, we are in a relatively comfortable situation, the market is growing, the crisis is coming to an end. Poland is in a highly pragmatic approach to all the proposed options. Providing there is legitimacy.
Aleksander Smolar, President of Stefan Batory Foundation, started his intervention by saying that “the presented 5 options are not the only possible scenarios”. The trouble is that you have a problem at the EU level, but you have to answer it with Member States level policies. Europe was build on the principle that we need to move forward by technical means – a Monet solution. This principle does not work any longer. The principle for the EU was the principle of consensus. Now, we will have a division between mainstream majority of pro-European parties and an anti-European minority (but possibly very strong minority). Some mainstream parties are becoming more populist. There is another scenario, that is very likely: a muddling through scenario. What are the prospects? Let’s hope that the crisis will soon really be over. And that public will be more in favour of European integration.
Thomas Fischer, Director of the Brussels office of the Bertelsmann Stiftung in Brussels, reacted to this and said that “we can’t go beyond muddling through without a risk of loosing public support”. The public might be more rational and less emotional than many think. And what we did in our report, we took the position of the society and tried to look at it from the policy side. We will now have 50 debates in 17 member states in the course of four months to discuss the proposed options with the public.
In his concluding remarks, Paweł Świeboda stressed that we are used to having a variety of options and choosing with which of them we want to go on what speed. In short term this will be every day life. In longer term, we need to think if this can be sustainable.