In this fourth post about what the COVID-19 reveals, I will focus on the need, which emerged for a more ambitious Europe. My aim is not to be exhaustive. Through the many conversations we held, it gives an idea of the difficulties, Europe has faced and what it needs to focus on from now on.
We are co-dependent
“Compared to the global economy, the euro area has experienced a larger hit in 2020 and will experience a slower recovery in 2021. The real GDP is expected to reach pre-crisis levels by mid-2022 in both the EU and the euro area. However, a return to the pre-crisis level of economic activity would still mean slow growth for the EU economy. Manufacturing industries have been impacted by short-term supply shortages, but most manufacturing-based industries recovered relatively quickly during the third quarter (Q3) of 2020. • However, there are distinct differences among the sectors in the level of severity of impact and extent of rebound. Sectors that require physical proximity, such as the cultural, aeronautics and creative industries, have been the hardest hit by the crisis. At the same time, besides a short and very small dip during Q2, the pharmaceutical and digital sectors have been the least impacted sectors”. Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the committee on Industry, Research and Energy(ITRE) – March 2021
Looking at the results of this crisis, we can draw many lessons. In particular, it is clear that Europe needs to reduce its co-dependency with other economies. There is also a need to increase considerably the investments in research and innovation. This will allow her to become a leading force in the sectors of the future. And for this, it needs to take more into consideration the issues people-planet-profit holistically.
There is a need for harmony, chaos, and order
The institutions’ main goal is to ensure harmony. It is especially important in situations when poor politics separate. We clearly saw the benefits of making the EU institutions responsible for the vaccination. A silent transformation, which became visible is the need to juggle between chaos (the right dose of improvisation) and order (budget planning). Otherwise, our institutions fail to be as reactive as the crises need. The reason behind the need for embracing some form of chaos is also to think outside of the box, thus allowing innovation.
Europe has to reinvent herself
During this particular crisis, we experienced the limits of our possibilities.
According to David O'Sullivan, former EU Ambassador, during a session of Together-Ensemble, "Europe does not have all the qualities of a State, it has some qualities of a federation. But mostly, it has to deal with many limitations. For instance, it is a constant struggle to get a common position from the 27 Member States, because they have to decide by unanimity. It does not mean Europe cannot be a leader, for instance, it is the case in trade, and in regulatory affairs. And, on the question of climate change, Europe is able to show leadership too. But, Europe will never be a power like China or the USA. In the future, it is clear that we have to find allies, and there we saw the power of countries, like Japan, India, Brazil. In fact, Europe will thrive in a world of multilateralism".
We also saw with Emmanuelle Duez, Founder of the Boson Project, and Denis Prieur, former French Counselor of State, the need to consider decentralisation, which is coming from a citizen’s request to solve problems as closely as possible to them. Taking better account of local realities. Europe could work better with a more direct and easier relationship with local authorities. There is probably a relationship between the public and the corporate world that needs to be reinvented, too. All this will contribute to making her more agile, more innovative, faster, more proactive than today.
“We can all make Europe lead a brighter future. It’s not the time to freeze, it’s the time to act. It’s not the time to be afraid, it’s the time to grow our appetite. I humbly believe we will have more impact in today’s context if we choose to be a force for change, for bigger dreams, for innovation, for good… And if we have the duty to protect people and the planet, we also have the duty to reposition ourselves to make sure our agenda leads to success. No one is to blame, especially because these are not times for more thinking but for more actions. And, what we want is to make our future selves work hard to question truly our views on this world and what is needed as a response. The dream will be collective, for each one of us, or our whole system will remain sick and incapable of healing” My speech in Together-Ensemble, June 2021.
Sometimes, I feel that the absence of a collective dream could well represent the root cause for our over-consumerist and closed mindset. The expectation is to draw a more desired path and we are slowly but surely getting there. Remember, the dream is here, under the sand. Tomorrow I will publish one last post about our cruel reality… I hope you are still with me 🙂
To be continued… In the meantime, I invite you to watch this beautiful talk with Emmanuelle Duez, whom I invited to dream big for Europe (and the world of course!) what an inspiration!