I am writing from Davos, at the World Economic Forum, after spending the rest of the week in Strasbourg. Over there I attended the Commission’s meeting and the European Parliament’s plenary: we had resolutions and debates on Syria, on the Saudi-Iranian tensions, on defending Christians in the Middle East, on the peace process in Colombia.
Here in Switzerland, I had two days of meetings with leaders from all over the world. Yesterday I met once again with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: we discussed the EU-Israel relations but first and foremost how to restart the peace process between Israel and Palestine, with a full engagement of Arab countries.
Then the meetings with the President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, the prime Minister of Lebanon Tammam Salam, the president of the Red Cross’ International Committe Peter Maurer, the new Argentinian foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, a friend who will do a lot for her country and for Latin America. And again with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, just days after having concluded together the work on implementing our nuclear deal in Vienna.
But Davos this year (my first year here) was all about the European Union, our present and the future we will manage to build for it. In fact, building our present and future is not just a matter for the EU institutions, but for national ones and for all Europe’s citizens. Only with a strong Union, one that truly works, will we successfully address all the difficult issues of our times.
This was the core of today’s discussion with David Miliband and Emmanuel Macron, in a BBC panel on the refugee crisis, Schengen and the future of Europe. Together, we recalled that our generation used to think of Europe as a space for freedom and a common future: today we can only confirm how crucial Europe is to face all the current crises. It is such a paradox that the need for greater policy integration is being questioned, at a time when such need is so evident. In today’s globalised world, nation States cannot deal effectively with the flow of refugees, nor with our citizens’ security, not with economic growth.
It wasn’t hard, talking with the entrepreneurs here at the Forum, to stress that a collapse of Schengen would have a huge economic cost. Too often we forget of all we have achieved, too often we forget how important it is to preserve the Union we built. And to do so, today, we need radical change.