A lire ci-dessous, mon discours à Harvard aujourd’hui sur l’avenir de l’Europe.
You can read below my speech today at Harvard University on the Future of Europe.
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Keynote public address at the 2016 Summit on the Future of Europe
Monday 14th November, 12.30 EST
Harvard University, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies
Let me begin by thanking the Center for European Studies for inviting me to share my thoughts with you today at this unprecedented moment in America’s political history.
It’s a privilege – and also a big responsibility.
A privilege, because I feel part of a history that, while not entirely my own, I feel is partly also my own. I was in Boston on 9/11, having taken off from Washington just a few minutes before the Twin Towers were attacked. My life will forever be marked by that memory. The United States is a country I have visited many times, for work or for vacation. It is a country for which I have both respect and affection.
And being here today is also a big responsibility, because I am the first representative of the European Institutions to visit the US since last week’s elections.
I am confident that the US will continue to be a strong and reliable partner for us.
So, on behalf of the European Commission, let me say I am confident that the US will continue to be a strong and reliable partner for us. That partnership is quite simply, an absolute necessity. The global challenges we face – in the areas of security, the economy, trade and climate change – can only be met if the US and Europe have a common agenda and a shared sense of direction.
As a citizen, I have to confess I was surprised (that is an understatement) at last week’s result, as were many Europeans and no doubt many of you. But we need to turn this painful awakening into a political wake-up call.
As a French Social Democrat, I want to share with you my worries when I see the Democrats – and our shared values – losing ground on both sides of the Atlantic.
Everyone in Europe is talking about your President-elect. Everyone is wondering about the causes of his election, and of course its consequences. Everyone is trying to decrypt Donald Trump’s personality, his views and his policy objectives on global matters such as trade or foreign affairs. Will he copy and paste his campaign statements into his policy agenda for the next four years, or will those statements be nuanced? We will soon know. We need to remain open-minded, just as we also need to remain vigilant.
When I was preparing this speech, I tried to put myself in your shoes and wondered what noises have been reaching you from Europe these past months.
I imagine the perception is one of a string of crises: the Greek debt crisis, the refugee crisis, Brexit, the struggle to adopt CETA, our new trade agreement with Canada. And when you see all these events, I can imagine that your incredulity is not less than ours was after Donald Trump’s election. Many of my US interlocutors often ask me this blunt question: « What is going on with Europe? It’s a mess! ». Some communicate their skepticism more delicately by asking me with a smile: “Where is Europe heading?” Well, I don’t have all the answers. But I do have plenty of ideas, which I set out in a book published a few days ago, and I will share some of those ideas with you today.
To overcome the challenges Europe is facing, we need a more political Europe, with a stronger euro area at its center.
My main message is very simple: to overcome the challenges Europe is facing, we need a more political Europe, with a stronger euro area at its center.
Yes, we need a more political Europe, one with solid legitimacy. You may wonder: where does European political legitimacy lie? Does it lie with the European Commission, which is often blamed by populists, but not only, for its omnipotence as much as its powerlessness? Does it lie with the European Parliament, directly elected by European citizens, whose decision-making power has increased significantly over the past twenty years? Does it lie with the European Council, which gathers our 28 national leaders and tries to overcome often contradictory national interests during all-night summits? Does it lie with our 28 national parliaments, or even regional ones, like that of Wallonia, which temporarily blocked the adoption of CETA? Is there any legitimacy left in the historical heart of the EU, formed by the French-German couple? Or maybe with Germany alone, because of its current economic dominance?
The issue of legitimacy is not present here in the US in anything like the same way. Of course, you have your debates about the powers of the Federal Government. But at the end of the day, you vote for a President and a Congress, which in turn rule according to their mandate. The legitimacy is clear. It derives from the first line of your Constitution: « We the people of the United States ».
There is neither a European Constitution, nor any « We the people of Europe ». The question rather is: can the peoples of Europe work together?
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