Discussion with Klaus Welle: Preparing Europe for the next 25 years
Pointing towards the possible revitalisation of the Franco-German tandem, Klaus Welle underlined the recent dynamics of closer integration among the EU member states, which in his view are running in parallel with the process of (British) disintegration. The Secretary General of the European Parliament was speaking last month to a gathering of CEPS members on the current state of the European Union. He emphasised the fact that the competences possessed by the EU are only complementary to national legislative and executive competences makes the EU highly dependent on the member states to deliver on European policy promises. While not ruling out the option of EU treaty revision, Welle expressed support for exploiting the Treaty of Lisbon to the fullest extent possible, at least for the current legislative cycle.
After highlighting the major achievements of the past 25 years, Welle discussed the difficulties that the EU is facing at the moment, which are of both an external nature (such dealing with the new US administration, Brexit and Russia under Putin) as well as an internal nature (lingering challenges stemming from the financial and sovereign debt crises). Instead of democracy versus communism, he argued that the system dichotomy of the present time can be characterised as open versus closed societies. To counteract protectionist tendencies and address the fundamental fears of its citizens, the Secretary-General insisted that the EU must be able to protect them, both against the potential threats of a globalised world as well as against terrorist attacks. Security is therefore high on the European agenda.