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2014: a turning point for Europe?

This year all of the European institutions will have been re-appointed afresh.

It is said that they are now more "political". What does this mean?

A straight reading of this imposed by some is certainly not the right one. With this they aim to move forward democratically but they are going too fast and only the populists have gained ground as we saw in the European elections. The Union is still made up of sovereign States and populations that are gradually drawing together. In the quest of legitimacy national public spaces cannot be avoided and the Union does not enjoy all of the competences that would enable it to make major European decisions. These choices cannot be reduced to the ideological rifts between "the left and the right" which they transcend.

They are both economic and global.

Much awaited growth will only come after a further, determined wave of integration, the only way to complete economic and monetary union, which is necessary now more than ever before. It has to be budgetary and social. It demands a real roadmap that is democratically debated and accepted. The new European Commission can contribute towards this but action also has to start in the capitals, in some of them at least. In this regard present debate over the economic measures to adopt is dull and outmoded. In a globalised economy any recovery that dispenses with discipline would simply impede revival. If we aim to copy the American example and flood the economy with liquidities we are forgetting that increasing debts and deficits is a privilege enjoyed by the world's leading currency and military power, but this cannot be done on a continent that is at odds with the idea of power.

Indeed this is what Europe lacks. But as the threats on its borders grow, alerted by increasing geopolitical uncertainty, it cannot remain immobile, disarmed, like a perfectly attractive, ripe fruit, without paying any further attention to its diplomatic and military capabilities. To accomplish this mission of higher interest the responsibility for real action lies all the more within the Member States even if this involves just a few. The European Commission can support this, the European Parliament has to resign itself to it, but responsibility lies primarily with the national governments. The new European Commission alone cannot provide an answer to these three political, economic and security challenges. It has made a good start setting out its economic, digital and energy priorities. Reformed in the way it functions, it now intends to play its role and will do this better than in the past with political leaders who assume their acts and who have to give account.

The Commission is presided over by a man of experience who knows all of the facets of community life - both in Brussels and nationally - he intends to devote himself to what is vital without allowing himself to be distracted by the irrelevant. But this does not dispense the Member States of the vital political determination which is necessary for Europe to move forwards.

Europe will not be made from above - even if it is now led by renewed, powerful institutions that are aware that they must reform. Jean-Claude Juncker enjoys the merit of having reminded us of this: it is now or never!

For Europe, 2014 could be a major turning point or it could lead to further disappointment. There have been too many of these already. There is no time to lose.