Saturday, January 24, 2009

EU “Reflection Group - Horizon 2020-2030”

In December 2007, the European Council decided to establish a “Reflection Group”, headed by Spain’s former premier Felipe Gonzalez, with Latvia’s former president Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Nokia chairman Jorma Ollila as his deputies. The initial driving force behind this idea was the French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Critics rightly feared that Mr. Sarkozy was looking for a technical means to oppose further EU enlargement, and especially Turkish EU candidacy, while shifting any eventual blame to a third party. Other Member States soon objected and it was agreed that this Reflection Group will not discuss institutional matters nor review EU current policies.

The formal overall objective remains nevertheless extremely (too?) ambitious as the group’s mandate is to anticipate the key issues and challenges which the Union is likely to face in the long run (“horizon 2020 – 2030”) and to analyze how these might be addressed. The Reflection Group must present its report to the European Council meeting of June 2010.


The list of key issues identified by the Council is quite interesting in itself: strengthening and modernizing the European model of economic success and social responsibility, enhancing the competitiveness of the EU, the rule of law, sustainable development, global stability, migration, energy and climate protection, and the fight against global insecurity, international crime and terrorism.

But in another illustration of what is wrong with the EU, or rather with the national politicians’ lack of strategic focus and excessive passion for horse-trading, it took almost a year to select members of the group. To make matters worse, its Chairman recently questioned whether its work should be “open to the entirety of society in an interactive way.” Of course, it should. Participatory democracy may not be a panacea but it offers a better option than secrecy when it comes to reaching out to European citizens. We shall soon realize whether this long gestation will lead to the production of an influential report or one that will, like many others before it, be briefly praised before being buried.


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