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Europa first !

For a long time now many have been demanding for the European Union to project itself powerfully in the international arena. The latter is transforming rapidly and Europe no longer has the influence it should. The new strategic and political context now requires that it  devote itself to this as a priority. Its security, its economy and its political model are in the balance.

Divided, the European Union is no longer able, due to its history, its competences and its treaties to rise to an ever increasing number of challenges. Indeed there can be no powerful diplomacy without a military tool that lends it credibility. There cannot be long lasting peace without a pro-active fight to guarantee and even impose it. And yet, only a few of its Member States seem to share the same vision of the world and be able to undertake military action. Most are depending on an alliance made with the USA under NATO. Brexit and the American election have shown that an alliance, however strong and useful it might be, cannot substitute the autonomy of thought that is the foundation of independence. A European defence treaty is necessary to reassert true collective security, with goals, means and a strategy. Stubbornly pursuing the creation of community instruments that will, at best, only function after total political union, does not match the urgency of the situation. However, it is crucial that together we pool our political will and our capabilities.

The same rationale applies to the economy. Europe, a continent far more powerful than its demographic and geographical size, has to be open to the world. It has to overcome the wave of national withdrawal that is occurring everywhere, if it deems itself an autonomous, effective entity that can respond to the expectations of its people. It has to rethink its competition and trade policies, in an open spirit. It has to think in terms of reciprocity and European preference. Its single currency is an asset, its trade capacities a considerable advantage, and they can also be used as arms at the service of a policy.

As for the migratory issue, which we shall have to face for a long time to come, it raises a series of questions about identity, the economy, and social issues to which the States themselves no have the answers. In real terms some of the latter could take leadership of a pioneering group to lay down a common asylum policy in line with our values and an adapted economic immigration policy, in other words, one that takes on board the varying needs of each of the Member States.

To move forward in these three areas that are vital for the European project - security, economy, immigration - Europeans can now have faith in common institutions that can help and facilitate cooperation. The "Juncker Turning Point" is real. It is political and deliberate. But nothing can exonerate the heads of State and government of their responsibilities. It is up to them to show the way. Hence progressive integration via norms and laws might be succeeded by integration via example, ie showing way to some whilst remaining open to States that want to join in. In a way we are asking them to take a political decision and to act, far from the indifference that they show towards European integration and even the easy, cowardly criticism they make of the common policies. In a way it is now their turn to proclaim: Europa First!