In what direction is the EU moving?

Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The green deal industrial plan presented by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier this month gave way to nice rhetorics whereby she tried to give the image of a resolute Europe ready to show the way with speed, ambition and a sense of purpose to secure the EU’s industrial leader in the fast-growing net-zero technology sector.

It can be acknowledged that with this Commission under the Presidency of von der Leyen Europe has found back a sense of direction which is mainly led down by the Green Deal.

This last year, with the war in Ukraine, the centrality of energy transition in the Deal has become even more core than it was at the start. But the needs present are beyond energy transition and the call for a real European industrial policy therefore just got louder.  The criticism that most circulates is that what is now proposed (especially temporary more relaxed rules on state aid) favors those member states with large pockets and needs to be compensated by a real common European approach of Industry policies in line with what was done before when developing first the Common Market and afterward the Internal Market.

This is indeed probably a better motivation than putting forward measures due to counter US legislation laid down in the so-called Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

A lot of these interrogations are echoed in the article Martin Banks brings us and they were also present in the discussions in the EP plenary this month in Strasburg.

It should spur the Commission to come quickly with clear views on a fully-fledged European industrial policy and give concrete content to the idea of a European sovereignty fund.

When going through the articles our journalists sorted out of their electronic pens this month it is also clear the geopolitical dimension asks for extra attendance too, also when it comes to rolling out the Green Deal. How to avoid being perceived worldwide as an appendix of US policies concerning Asia and China in particular?

This is in an interesting manner discussed in a paper issued by a group of researchers labeled ‘JOINT’ and  based both in Brussels (within CEPS) and in Jakarta (CSIS): “The South China Sea and Indo-Pacific in an era of multipolar competition: a more targeted EU response?”

They advance the most viable way to address crises and conflicts in a multipolar world may be to aim for competent management rather than elusive resolutions. The EU has to offer a lot in this but it needs to get away from the temptation of megaphone diplomacy, speaking only its own language and thereby often omitting to listen to the concerns of the states in the region.

The tumult led by Malaysia and Indonesia concerning the upcoming EU deforestation legislation reported here by Marta Pacheco can maybe be seen as a test. To us it seems the EU should, as stated in the study, further develop the tools it has at its disposal, to make Asian countries its partners in the rollout of the green deal.  To quote the study:

“Other tools (above FTA’s and digital partnerships) at the EU’s disposal in the region include the EU fund for Sustainable development as well as Team Europe Initiatives (TEI’s) which comprise coordinated action by EU institutions and individual member states. As an illustration, TEI’s includes the Green initiative in South-East Asia centered on issues such as biodiversity, energy security, green cities, and the circular economy, as well as the Green Blue Alliance for the Pacific focused on climate action and resilience and the sustainable management of fisheries.”

With this, we are back to the question of a truly global approach, transversal to all DG’s in the Commission, to everything that concerns greening the planet and speeding up the energy transition, whereby Europe can deliver on its responsibilities to people and planet alike, and avoid unleashing social, economic and security problems that could come biting back at the Union.

We’d like to bet with Nathalie Tozzi who is the director of the respected Think Tank  Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome on the methods developed by one of the founding fathers of Europe, Jean Monnet.

In different interviews given by her on the occasion of the publication of her book pleading for a green and global Europe, she explained that to her “There are two meanings of resilience: Vladimir Putin’s and Jean Monnet’s, with the former emphasizing pain endurance and the latter transformation through a crisis. As the Ukraine war escalates, there is widespread recognition across European governments that this is a crisis that can only be navigated by standing together. And there is a chance that Europe will navigate this crisis too and that the solutions it will find will become yet another building block in its history of integration. So, at the height of this crisis, my bet today is squarely on Monnet.”

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