Brexit signifies European crisis, says French president, Macron
Recover the spirit of progress
Europe is not a second-tier power. Europe in its entirety is a vanguard: it has always defined the standards of progress. In this, it needs to drive forward a project of convergence rather than competition: Europe, where social security was created, needs to introduce a social shield for all workers, guaranteeing the same pay for the same work, and an EU minimum wage, appropriate to each country, negotiated collectively every year.
Getting back on track also means spearheading the environmental cause. Will we be able to look our children in the eye if we do not also clear our climate debt? The EU needs to set its target – zero carbon by 2050 and pesticides halved by 2025 – and adapt its policies accordingly with such measures as a European Climate Bank to finance the ecological transition, a European food safety force to improve our food controls and, to counter the lobby threat, independent scientific assessment of substances hazardous to the environment and health. This imperative needs to guide all our action: from the Central Bank to the European commission, from the European budget to the Investment Plan for Europe, all our institutions need to have the climate as their mandate.
Progress and freedom are about being able to live from one’s work: Europe needs to look ahead to create jobs. This is why it needs not only to regulate the digital giants by putting in place European supervision of the major digital platforms (prompt penalties for unfair competition, transparent algorithms, etc), but also to finance innovation by giving the new European Innovation Council a budget on a par with the United States in order to spearhead new technological breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence.
A world-oriented Europe needs to look to Africa, with which we should enter into a covenant for the future, ambitiously and non-defensively supporting African development with investment, academic partnerships and education for girls.
Freedom, protection and progress: we need to build European renewal on these pillars. We can’t let nationalists with no solutions exploit people’s anger. We can’t sleepwalk to a diminished Europe. We can’t remain in the routine of business as usual and wishful thinking. European humanism demands action. And everywhere, people are standing up to be part of that change. So by the end of the year, let’s set up, with representatives of the EU institutions and the member states, a Conference for Europe in order to propose all the changes our political project needs, which is open even to amending the EU treaties. This conference will need to engage with citizens’ panels, and hear from academics, business and worker representatives, as well as religious and spiritual leaders. It will define a roadmap for the EU that translates these key priorities into concrete actions. There will be disagreement, but is it better to have a static Europe or a Europe that advances, sometimes at different speeds, and that is open to all? In this Europe, the people will really take back control of their future.
In this Europe, the UK, I am sure, will find its true place. The Brexit impasse is a lesson for us all. We need to escape this trap and make the forthcoming elections and our project meaningful. It is for you to decide whether Europe and the values of progress that it embodies are to be more than just a passing episode in history. This is the choice I put to you: that together we chart the road to European renewal.