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European Strategic Autonomy
There are growing calls for the European Union (EU) to be more autonomous and independent while remaining open to other economies and committed to upholding multilateralism. This is often referred to as Strategic Autonomy. But what does it mean exactly? Which areas of EU policymaking does it affect? Should the EU really pursue Strategic Autonomy?
These questions will guide Club de Madrid's upcoming debate in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The largest forum of former Presidents and Prime Ministers organizes this high-level dialogue with the support of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, and with the participation of the Government of Portugal and the civil society organizations, Equipo Europa, and the European think tank, Friends of Europe.
Hashtags: #CoFoE #StrategicAutonomyEU #HablamosdeEuropa
09:30h (CET) Welcome Remarks
-Danilo Türk, President of Club de Madrid and President of Slovenia (2007-2012).
-Francisco André, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Government of Portugal.
-Juan González-Barba Pera, Secretary of State for the European Union, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Government of Spain
-Master of ceremonies: Rubén Campos, Coordinator of Programmes, Club de Madrid
09:45 – 11:15h Dialogue I – European concept of Strategic Autonomy. Why should it be on the Agenda?
The session will be devoted to reflecting on the European concept of Strategic Autonomy, the circumstances that make this debate relevant and controversial, and the implications that this concept might have at domestic and international levels. The session will pay special attention to the security and defence components.
-Herman Van Rompuy, Prime Minister of Belgium (2008-2009) and President of the European Council (2009-2014), and Member of Club de Madrid
-Danilo Türk, President of Club de Madrid and President of Slovenia (2007-2012)
-Iveta Radičová, Prime Minister of Slovakia (2010-2012) and Member of Club de Madrid
-Sofia-Maria Satanakis, Senior Research Fellow, Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES)
-Carlota García Encina, Senior Analyst, Real Instituto Elcano
-Facilitator: Pol Morillas, Director, CIDOB
11:30 – 13:00h Dialogue II – European Strategic Autonomy and the Conference on the Future of Europe
The session will address other aspects of European Strategic Autonomy including those related to the economy, capital, trade, health, energy, technology, standards, and values. Participants will bring new ideas and mechanisms on how the European Union can advance Strategic Autonomy in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
-José Manuel Durão Barroso, Prime Minister of Portugal (2002-2004), President of the European Commission (2004-2014), Chair of GAVI and Member of Club de Madrid
-Ivo Josipović, President of Croatia (2010-2015) and Member of Club de Madrid
-Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (2002-2010) and Member of Club de Madrid
-Margarida Marques, Member of European Parliament, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
-Inés Suñer, Youth Representative, Researcher and Analyst, Equipo Europa
-Facilitator: Dharmendra Kanani, Director, Asia, Peace, Security & Defence, Digital and Chief spokesperson of Friends of Europe
13:00h: Closing remarks
-María Elena Agüero, Club de Madrid Secretary-General
-João António da Costa Mira-Gomes, Ambassador of Portugal in Spain
Event report1. The Conference on the Future of Europe and the foresight efforts of the European Commission are key opportunities to reinforce a basic and shared consensus on European Values. The European values such as inclusion, tolerance, justice, solidarity, and non-discrimination are an integral part of the European way of life and define the role of the European Union in the world. They are the basis of the European project and its future. Efforts by Members States and European Institutions to ensure the full respect and implementation of all European values, including democracy and rule of law in all European Member States, should be supported and encouraged. European Members States should use their political will to continue strengthening political and institutional mechanisms for the full respect of all European values, with no exception. "Restarting democratic legitimacy and European values and bringing democracy closer to citizens" In the last decade, democracy in Europe has been and continues to be challenged by the different and rapid changes taking place around the world. From the technological revolution, to the financial crisis, to the migration crisis, all these new trends have exposed the ineffectiveness of traditional democracies to adequately address these challenges without leaving anyone behind. In fact, inequality has increased as a consequence, citizens feel that the system does not offer them solutions and that their needs are not taken into account. Moreover, young people feel less and less attracted to the traditional forms of communication of political parties, which results in a very low engagement of society in general, but of young people in particular, in the processes of democratic participation. As a consequence, democracy, democratic institutions and European institutions have lost legitimacy in the eyes of the citizens, leaving room for the emergence of new forms of governance, the so-called illiberal democracies, which are a threat to respect for the values on which our Union is based. The future before us will challenge the lives of a good number of European citizens who will struggle to adapt to the new paradigm. Europe needs a new social contract capable of responding to a different and, for some, disturbing reality. New opportunities will be conditioned by people's ability to adapt to this new reality. European institutions and Member States must spare no effort to support those most affected by the shift to a green and digital economy. The future of the European Union must pay particular attention to social justice and equity. Other priorities such as digitalisation, financial stability or the Green Pact will only work if they are developed on the principles of social justice and equity. Governments and the private sector must work together to agree on regulatory frameworks to absorb the new types of jobs that citizens will encounter. Innovation is a niche in which Europe can excel, but it requires continuous feedback between the demands of the private sector and the supply from universities. If we are to maintain respect for the fundamental values that unite us all as a European Union, promote liberal democracy and regain the trust of our citizens and the legitimacy of our institutions, we need to ensure both a new social contract and greater participatory democracy. We therefore encourage all European leaders to stand firm in defence of our core values, European institutions and liberal democracy, and to act united in their defence. We suggest to the European institutions and the Member States to face up to the renewal of the social contract. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity to pause and rethink what we want the democracies of the future, the Europe of the future, to look like, and in that sense, we suggest that they reorient the social contract towards investing in the issues that matter most to our citizens, investing in new skills training to cope with the rapidly changing labour market, investing in equal opportunities and, in particular, basing the social contract on education, social protection and health. We encourage political parties to change their traditional discourses and make them more attractive to young voters by using their own vocabulary to communicate their ideas in order to address the current problems of communication between the two sides and to ensure a more engaged youth in democratic processes. In this sense, we propose that the European institutions should be brought closer to the citizens, opening up spaces for citizen participation in policy-making processes that are innovative and accessible to all. At the moment, the usual forms of participation have proven to be ineffective, and most of the instruments of participation are unknown to the general public and lack transnationality. Moreover, although citizens want to participate in a meaningful way, they still feel that their voices are not heard by the institutions. We must therefore ensure that European citizens know how to participate and what the mechanisms are for doing so. We must ensure that these mechanisms are innovative and effective in bringing the voice of citizens closer to the EU institutions. In this regard, we suggest that special attention be given to citizens' assemblies, panels and the multilingual platform as new effective and innovative instruments at our disposal to bring democracy closer to the citizens and to create a more participatory union. Work to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law in the Union as fundamental pillars of democracy. At the moment, the three existing mechanisms at our disposal to ensure the protection and respect of the rule of law and European values by Member States have proven to be ineffective in dealing with breaches of values and the rule of law by Member States. We therefore encourage reflection and the creation, where appropriate, of new mechanisms that are more effective in ensuring respect for the rule of law and European values. We support the European institutions in the new regulation adopted which makes EU funding conditional on respect for the rule of law. Promoting a more equal and inclusive Europe Despite efforts, the European Union continues to face significant inequalities and discrimination at all levels, from gender inequality and anti-Semitism to racism and ethnic discrimination, among many others. These inequalities are caused and exacerbated by different factors and have consequences in a wide range of areas, ranging from the economic and social to the challenge of consolidating a European identity and better engagement of citizens in European affairs. While it is true that the treaties and the rule of law are meant to protect freedom and equality, deficiencies in the quality of institutional frameworks are making it difficult to guarantee both. We therefore insist on the need to improve the implementation of the rule of law as a key mechanism to promote equality and freedom across the Union. Moreover, differentiated integration means that citizens of some Member States feel that they are second-class citizens, that they are not treated equally, that they do not have access to the same rights and opportunities as other European citizens. It is true that we continue to have different economic developments in the Union, different views on the European Union itself and different cultural patterns, all of which are posing challenges for promoting equality in general. We therefore propose to work on building a European identity as a means of fostering a sense of European citizenship and equality among citizens. We encourage the Union's institutions to devote more resources to building this identity, using sport, culture or education as unifying tools. On the other hand, discrimination and inequality are also very present in the gender gap in many areas. Indeed, gender inequality is a major challenge in the European Union today and needs to be addressed as effectively and accurately as possible. There is a lack of women in decision-making processes. There is a lack of women working or studying in the science and technology sector, most of them face enormous challenges and obstacles that prevent them from accessing jobs in the research sector, and gender bias, as well as sexual harassment and discrimination, are still very much present in our societies. Tackling all these problems will be key not only to achieving gender equality and, consequently, a more equal Europe, but will also improve the economy and GDP of member states. We therefore urge the European Union to address gender bias in education, to create safe spaces from sexual harassment, to promote policies that attract more women into the field of science and technology, and to address the obstacles women face in getting certain jobs, in particular in research, or in higher education, by improving working conditions, introducing higher salaries and work-life balance policies. 2. The Future of Europe must be green and digital. Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world. Urgent action is needed to make climate protection and sustainable development a reality to ensure a prosperous and secure future for Europeans. Member States must ensure the appropriate level of funding to ensure full implementation of the European Green Pact; to invest in environmentally friendly technologies; to promote green innovation; to advance the decarbonisation of the energy sector; and to contribute to global environmental standards. The current crisis is also a unique opportunity for Europe to invest in its "digital sovereignty" and reduce its technological dependence on external actors. Digitalisation must be treated as a cross-cutting factor that affects all aspects of Europe's future and is present in all human and economic activities. Europe must aspire to lead the accelerating exponential technological disruption and adapt its economy and regulation to a new digital paradigm. European institutions and Member States have made significant efforts to lead the global regulatory agenda on digitisation, but this regulatory power is diluted if Europe does not become a global technology powerhouse. Member States and European institutions must invest in digital sovereignty by creating a “digital single market”, increasing and improving European financing for technology, promoting research, and investing in talent while protecting citizens' rights through pioneer normative frameworks. 3. The Future of Europe is a good opportunity to advance European strategic autonomy and promote European interests and values. Recent events have shown Europe the need to be more autonomous while remaining open to other economies and committed to multilateralism. In the current context, Europe's role in global arbitration and stabilization is crucial, and the European Union has the opportunity to play an important global role while promoting its interests and values and pursuing its strategic autonomy. Member states and European institutions must develop new mechanisms to enhance Europe's strategic autonomy on all fronts, including in the economic, capital, security, energy, technology, and regulatory fields. Only a more capable and more autonomous Europe can work meaningfully to put multilateralism and solidarity back at the center of international relations. We propose that the European Council should conduct an in-depth discussion on how to strengthen European strategic autonomy at all levels. Security and Defense The EU must reinforce its global strategic role and its capacity to act autonomously when and where necessary. This should be done through the continued promotion of multilateralism and together with partners wherever possible. The EU must be able to protect its borders much more effectively and rely less on cooperation from neighboring countries. Relations with NATO must be strong and robust. But in parallel, and whenever necessary, the European Union must be able to act to defend its interests without relying on others. We encourage Member States to take advantage of the current context and to continue to explore mechanisms to move in this direction. Member States should increase cooperation on crisis management, capacity building, and development. Further development of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and other European defence instruments and policies will be crucial to achieve these objectives. The EU must achieve the necessary capabilities, taking into account Member States' existing obligations, especially those of the North Atlantic Treaty signatories. It must be understood that a Europe that assumes its defence responsibilities is a Europe whose actions will strengthen NATO and its objectives. The EU must strengthen its cooperation with partner countries, including the most technologically advanced, but it is also essential that they share the principles and values that the EU associates with this strategic projection. Single Market The EU's single market remains highly restrictive and under-utilized, especially in the digital field. We must transform it into the basis for strengthening the Union's competitiveness against third parties. We call for the removal of existing barriers, and for progress towards an effective and fair tax and competition policy to tackle the dominance of macro technology companies. Strategic sectors should remain, as far as possible, in the hands of European companies. The EU should promote the creation of private partnerships to reduce dependence on major manufactured supplies. The European Union must reduce its strategic dependence on energy, raw materials, and essential components of critical industrial value chains. We must diversify our production and supply chains and encourage domestic production. While the Union and the Member States are moving in the right direction, the European single market was not created to cede power to non-European companies which, in many cases, do not operate under normal conditions. This must be achieved by developing strong new competition rules to counter the dominance of the digital giants. We call for greater protection for small and medium-sized enterprises and ensuring their access to the European market on fair and equal terms. As well as reducing the excessive dependence on certain countries and markets in economic matters, which leads to political dependence, which ties in with the term of self-determination and sovereignty, by completing the economic and monetary union. Health The coronavirus pandemic has allowed the EU to assess how disadvantageous it is to depend on other states for medical supplies, such as vaccines. This crisis will accelerate the resilience of the European single market and identify future risks in the context of geo-economic protectionism. We support efforts to build a strong European Health Union, where all EU countries can prepare and respond together to health crises, with available, affordable and innovative medical supplies. A European Health Union able to better protect citizens' health and better cope with future pandemics, among others.
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