Civil society, foreign policy and the courage of rationality on refugees

Civil society, foreign policy and the courage of rationality on refugees

A day in Brussels: it began with the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners, to prepare tomorrow’s European Council. Then the plenary of the European Economic and Social Committee, where we discussed the role that business associations, trade unions and NGOs have in our foreign policy. It is every day more evident that an effective foreign policy cannot simply rely on governments. Non-State actors have a growing relevance in our region and beyond: conflicts sometime grow inside societies, and only inside societies can we find real solutions to those conflicts.

I also mentioned the extraordinary work that civil society is doing in welcoming refugees. During these weeks, too often we hear that Europe needs to “protect its borders.” In fact, we must defend borders from our enemies – not from people fleeing from war. We cannot afford to panic, we have a duty to be as rational as we can. And rationality tells us that all attempts to address the refugee crisis nationally have failed. The choice is whether to keep failing individually, or finally try and build an effective response – that is, a European response.

Here is the video of our debate in the Committee.