10 Mar, 2020

100 Days: Commission must be bold and brave

Ethan Arsht

On the occasion of the first 100 days of the new European Commission and ahead of the Renew Europe Group exchange of views with President Ursula von der Leyen, Dacian Cioloș, President of Renew Europe, stated:

“More than ever, we need a stronger and more united Europe, uncompromising on its values, more democratic, prosperous and more sustainable, sovereign and geopolitical. That’s the Union much needed for our Citizens. Renew Europe want an open and frank assessment of the first 100 days of the new Commission to guarantee that the next steps will deliver on all the facets of these strategic orientations. As we said in July 2019, our support is not a 'carte blanche'. We expect a new dynamic for the European project.”

“The European Union is back in fire-fighting mode, with a biological crisis in our midst, geopolitical crises on our doorstep in both Syria and Libya and the threat of a serious economic slowdown. The EU should work together to solve the crises at hand. But at the same time, though, we need to fix the fundamentals underlying them. For more than a decade, our Union has already been in constant crisis mode. Now the time has come to be in thriving mode.”

“Over the last months, there have been many positive initiatives. But there is much to do in order to actually deliver, as we cannot afford providing another “too little too late” example as too often seen in the past. The level of ambition and traction regarding the programme of actions we agreed with the election of the von der Leyen Commission must be secured, as it provides solutions for the fundamental problems that make us vulnerable again today.”

On a value-oriented and a more democratic European Union:
“The refusal of EU member states to use Article 7 to isolate the increasingly illiberal political leadership in Poland and Hungary shows why a genuine rule of law mechanism is needed at European level. The Commission must fight alongside the Parliament in the coming months not only to establish a much needed reporting mechanism on rule of law but also to encapsulate in the next MFF an efficient mechanism to guarantee an efficient conditionality for EU funds.”

“Vitally, the roadmap of reform we agreed provides a direction and a hope for a greater say for citizens in European democracy, breaking the usual top down approach of the communication of our institutions. We cannot be distracted from delivering an ambitious Conference on the Future of Union. The development of transnational European lists, reform of the Spitzenkandidat process, moving forward on accession, must not be put on ice, because these are the building blocks of a stronger Europe, which will enable us to better confront the challenges our citizen’s face.”

On the need for a sustainable and prosperous European Union:
“The Green Deal and a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence were crucial initiatives - and the Commission's work on these issues is to be welcomed. Beyond the broad orientations, an ambitious approach is needed to make sure that these two bold projects deliver. The challenge now will be for the Commission to put forward initiatives matching the ambitions, defining a proper and concrete policy path, doing away with unnecessary red tape and lessening rules and constraints that would undermine and discourage our citizens or economic actors. On the contrary, we need to unleash the potential of transformation of our society.”

“A permanent focus of investments is much needed. The lack of ambition seen in some of the long-term budget proposals is a threat to our ability to tackle current and future challenges. We count on the Commission to fight alongside with the Parliament for a strong budget, that will allow us to deliver on the new priorities, while giving a push to traditional policies – the CAP and cohesion.”

“The Banking Union has to be completed swiftly and the Growth and Stability pact needs to be used as a tool to ensure fundamental economic reform in Member States while at the same time boosting our capacity to investment in strategic sectors. These and other measures need to be put in place in order to ensure we will tackle the next financial crisis better than the last one.”

On a sovereign and geopolitical European Union:
“For a geopolitical Commission, many initiatives have yet to see the light of day and we still await progress, for example, on the new Asylum and Migration pact. Renew Europe has provided the building blocks for a comprehensive migration and Asylum pact. We really need to see the Commission delivering on this, and do it soon. No more beating around the bush, it’s time to act!”

“More than just managing challenges and threats, we need to aggressively deliver on institutional reform as well. Unlike China, Russia and increasingly the US, the European Union rarely acts decisively; it must learn to do so. We need a Europe that not only protect its borders but also has the capacity to project its values and vision of the world beyond those borders.”

“Security and solidarity must be reconciled. Learning the lessons of our inactions means building a sovereign Europe more capable to act to stop wars in our neighbourhood by acting, and acting more quickly. The political guidelines of President von der Leyen included an ambition to be a geopolitical Commission, and a commitment to move towards qualified majority voting to become the rule in this area. It is time to take these initiatives forward.”

On the risk of retreating to a crisis mode:
“If we are to stand a chance of “breathing new life” into the European project and show its value to Europeans, we cannot risk a retreat to a "crisis mode" of the 2010s. Many of the challenges we face now are a function of our past failures to act - and the crisis at our borders is the best example.”

“Yes, we need to prove we are capable of managing grave and imminent threats. However, in the coming weeks and months, this cannot come at the expense of the strategic programme for renewal that pro-Europeans agreed to last year. These reforms hold the key to our ability to build a sovereign Europe, which will be more capable of dealing with future threats. In the pursuit of renewal, this is the time for the Commission in this first phase of the mandate to be both brave and bold.”

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