In 2014 all of the European institutions will be elected à new Parliament, Commission, Presidency of the European Council and the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. It is therefore an opportunity for the Union, now that we are emerging from the crisis, to learn from the difficulties of the last four years. Facing serious economic turbulence and a confidence crisis for the very first time, it has to make an objective assessment of this experience.
European solidarity has worked and the worst has been avoided. No Member State found itself in default nor in the obligation to leave the euro or the Union. But the weaknesses of the incomplete structure of United Europe and the single currency had to corrected as a matter of urgency. The European Central Bank showed that it was strong and flexible; it has been decisive in the fight to counter mistrust and speculation. The States had to intervene but decision making was slow and there was hesitiation and mistakes were made.
We therefore have to accept an indepth revision of European institutional practice.Economic governance has to be strengthened. The way European policies are implemented has to be improved. Citizens are really showing their mistrust and this cannot remain without response.
Quite clearly the Commission does not work well and has to be re-organised with an executive comprising 4 or 5 vice-presidents that are responsible for the tasks they have been given and have Authority on the administration.
It must turn its back on technocratic excesses which in the 1960's Robert Schuman warned were the "greatest danger to supranational institutions". The law must not be turned
into an obstacle to efficiency, but it has to be means at the service of action. The Commissioners must act as public figures who show and assume their own political responsibilities.
European normative production must be the focus of priorities. The approval of new laws is not an end in itself and regulation is not the beginning and end of everything European,
especially when 26 million jobless are calling for the revival of growth. We should stop accumulating a thousand and one new obligations in the name of grand, generous principles. They are the ball and chain weighing down our businesses which have to run like gazelles!
Europe's assertion of its place in the world is an absolute necessity and this demands better coordination and a wiser use of European generosity.
We shall have to cooperate with the new common diplomatic service and accept that the Union has interests that need defending everywhere in the world; this means intervening in far away places with efficient military means. A maritime security strategy is also to be approved in June. It should be the symbol of this.
We can demand all of this of the new leaders who are to be appointed at the head of these institutions, without having to modify the treaties.
Insitutional reforms will come later. Practices however have to change this year. It is on this condition that citizens will recover their confidence in a structure that is as useful as ever and unity that is even more necessary.