Wednesday 25 November 2009

EU’s future ─ reflections to think about: Wolfgang Münchau & Felipe González

A weak Commission and egoistic member states, or something better? What has the future in store for the European Union?

The diverging trends of global challenges and national solutions confound Wolfgang Münchau in his column (in German) Europas Comeback (Financial Times Deutschland, 24 November 2009), but he optimistically concludes that the second decade of the 21st century may turn out better than the first.


On the Spanish, J. Ignacio Torreblanca writes about the reflection group on the future of the European Union, chaired by Felipe González: Reflexión para la acción (22 November 2009).

The European Council which nominated the “wise persons” to ponder the future of the EU with 2020 or 2030 as its horizon, placed absurd limits on the mandate of the reflection group. Fortunately, the discussion between Felipe González and Emma Bonino in El País shows that González “thinks European” and that the group’s report will present the challenges of the EU in clear terms for the political leaders to digest.

For more on the subject, you can read Felipe González: “La toma de decisiones en la UE es diabólicamente ineficaz” (El País, 22 November 2009), a fairly long extract from a discussion with representatives from the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). Reflection is good, but action is better. Strategic questions such as foreign policy, immigration and energy require more Europe, hygienic standards for cheese less.


The mandate and the membership of the Reflection Group are available on its web pages, although the following version of the membership list comes from the web page of Vaira Vike-Freiberga:

Felipe González Márquez, former Prime Minister of Spain and former Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (Spain)

Vaira Vīķe – Freiberga, former President of Latvia (Latvia)

Jorma Ollila, Non-Executive Chairman and former CEO of Nokia Corporation and Non-Executive Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell (Finland),

Lykke Friis, Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark),

Rem Koolhaas, architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and "Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design" at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (the Netherlands),

Richard Lambert, Director-General of the Confederation of the British Industry and the present Chancellor of the University of Warwick (United Kingdom),

Mario Monti, former European Commissioner for Internal Market, financial services and financial integration, Customs, Taxation (1995 – 1999) and Competition (1999 – 2004), President of the Bocconi University of Milan and the first Chairman of Bruegel, a European think tank founded in 2005 (Italy),

Rainer Münz, Head of Research at Erste Bank in Vienna and Senior Fellow at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (Austria),

Kalypso Nicolaidis, Professor of International Relations and Director of the European Studies Centre at Oxford University (Greece, France)

Nicole Notat, former General Secretary of Trade Union CFDT Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail) and Chairman of Vigeo, the leading European corporate social responsibility ratings agency (France)

Wolfgang Schuster, Mayor of Stuttgart, capital of the State of Baden-Württemberg (Germany)

Lech Walesa, former President of Poland (Poland).

Slovenian professor Žiga Turk, who blogs in English on BlogActiv, is secretary general of the Reflection Group.


Is Münchau’s optimism warranted for the European Union’s second decade of the 21st century? To an extent it will depend on how the European leaders receive the report from the Reflection Group chaired by González.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Do you find EUSSR myths fascinating? Are we EU citizens worth a better European Union? Read some or all of the 481 Euroblogs aggregated on multilingual On most of the blogs you can comment and discuss our common European future.

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