fr en de

2023, a year of challenges for Europe

Resilience, power, performance

[This editorial is also available in Ukrainian.]

It is customary to say that "Europe is at a turning point". However, we shouldn't panic: it has existed now for 73 years!

But it is no less true that the challenges facing Europe in recent times have been particularly existential in nature. In 2023, the European Union will have to face at least three challenges: that of resilience, that of power and that of performance.

Europeans will have to prove that they can vanquish Putin. He has declared war on them in the name of 'collective Western decadence'; he indulges in unprecedented violations of his word and of the law, and presumes the Europeans to be weak and divided, but he also fears them because he knows they are richer and basically much stronger.

He has orchestrated the rise in energy prices, along with the ensuing blackmail, acts of destabilisation of our neighbourhood, in Georgia, in Africa and finally the war in Ukraine, thinking that the policy of the fait accompli would be accepted by a continent that does not want the return of war.

So far, Europeans have stood united, supporting Ukraine, sanctioning Putin's attitude and isolating him, depriving him of the resources of which he has already deprived his own people.

We must hold out for the long term, resist energy blackmail and provocation without giving in to violence, probably at great cost. Europe has taken this path. This is not the least of the challenges.

Europe has everything it needs to be a leading world power: technology, human resources, the organisation and civil society of its Member States, and one of the most advanced legal systems in the world. But it lacks an overall strategic ambition and the military strength that is the only way to make a global diplomacy credible.

We know that this last requirement is complicated for certain members of the Union, whether they are neutral or impeded by their history, whether they do not feel the threats or prefer to leave it to others to defend them.

Yet Europe urgently needs a powerful military force. This is the only way for Europe to guarantee peace and defend its interests. This does not call into question its alliances, particularly with the democracies that must remain united in the face of rising dictatorships; but it is its duty, and it will be accountable to its citizens in their quest for security.

Finally, the third challenge for Europeans is that of performance. They must demonstrate the effectiveness of their cooperation, their ability to overcome their differences, to secure a prosperous economy and the growth that is the only way to combat inequalities and ensure genuine social solidarity.

Responding to the demands of the digital revolution by strengthening our industrial fabric and strengthening a global trade policy, while taking into account the environmental imperative, is not always easy.

Between the excesses of some, created by the fear of a great ecological crisis and the needs of the greatest number of people, especially the most exposed, the European Union must navigate as best it can, without, as it has done so far, turning to traditional State tools: national preference, trade reciprocity, proactive and structuring public policies.

And so traditional European policies are therefore being called into question.

Europe's economic success will depend on its ability to adapt to the new context and its moderation in systematic regulation.

If it is prepared to recognise that it now has enemies, to demonstrate that it is strong if it wants to be and that it is agile in its adaptations, Europe has every chance of remaining among the world's leading powers …. Starting from now!