Bernard Guetta: Four European Forces for Four European Objectives

2023-12-04 | Political initiatives, Geopolitical analysis

It is quite simple: a fire is burning. There is the fire of global warming. There is the fire in Ukraine. There is the fire in Gaza. And in a year’s time, there could well the fire of Trump’s return to the White House. At any moment, the fire threatens to spread and what do we do?

What are we doing in Europe, we the Europeans?

Unless we look away, burying our heads in the sand so as not to see the dangers, we have to face them head on, united and determined not to let anyone but ourselves decide our fate. It won’t be easy, and sometimes it will be outright difficult. It would be much simpler to fall back on our national borders and hope that they would protect us from the flames, but since that would not be the case, and since we would obviously be more vulnerable disunited than united, we have to pick up the gauntlet and start by enlarging our Union.

This enlargement is a necessity because, faced with Vladimir Putin’s bellicosity and the possibility that the Sino-American tug-of-war could lead either to a totally devastating war or to the creation of a global condominium, we must not delay in integrating the candidate countries into the Union. We must strive for the unity of the continent of Europe so as not to let it be obliterated by China and the United States, but to enable the Union to enlarge without running the risk of paralysis, we must accept that its members can choose different degrees of integration.

In the same way that the 27 may or may not belong to the euro zone or the Schengen area, the 35 will have to be able to integrate either a common market governed by the rule of law or a political entity with harmonised taxation and communitised foreign, defence and industrial policies. The same name, the same flag, but a much greater diversity: a new Union must be born, the 21st century union, and our second task is to strengthen our military production.

We don’t like to write it. There is nothing exciting about it, but the fact is that we currently do not have the means to meet the delivery deadlines for the munitions promised to Ukraine, and our arms stocks are dangerously low. The conclusion is clear: we need to invest together as quickly as possible in pan-European arms industries to support the Ukrainians and be able to respond to all eventualities.

The third of our most urgent tasks is to reaffirm common objectives in the fight against global warming and the defence of biodiversity, so that we can carry more weight in international negotiations and not let the interest groups take us backwards.

As for the fourth of our priorities, it is to communitise and multiply our research efforts so that we don’t miss out on the next industrial and scientific revolutions like we so cruelly missed out on the IT revolution.

From immigration control to the creation of Universities of Excellence, from the fight against poverty to raising educational standards, we have a thousand other things to do together, in every field, but these are the most urgent. And it just so happens that developing our military capabilities, reinventing the Union, supporting Ukraine, protecting the planet and the research effort are all objectives shared by the Greens and centrists, the People’s Party and social democrats.

So why not say it?

In the coming campaign, these four currents will clash on many issues, but they converge on the essentials, at least in terms of objectives. So why not say, right now, that beyond our differences and our different cultural backgrounds, we agree on the need to make the Union a key player on the international stage, strong enough to rely on itself?

Since our States will not close ranks unless our political forces do so, why not say that we intend to steer the European Union together, without giving up any of our political identities, but with equal amounts of audacity and indispensable compromise? Since the political spectrum now pits the extreme right against all democrats, the party of renouncement against the party of European unity in freedom, social protection and democracy, let’s say it! Let’s give politics back its vigour and its reality.

Originally published here (also available in French, German, Hungarian, and Polish).