Marco Pierani

Mario Draghi’s Wake-Up Call: Strengthening EU Unity in a Changing World

Undoubtedly, as we stand on the precipice of a new era, it is imperative that we forge a new social contract fit to meet the unique challenges of the 21st century. Marco Pierani from Euroconsumers shared his views on Mario Draghi's impassioned wake-up call, urging us to rise to the occasion and safeguard Europe's future in the face of unprecedented trials.

In a recent meeting with EU ministers held in Ghent, Belgium, Former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, tasked with producing a high-level report on the EU’s competitiveness, emphasized the waning reliability of the EU’s traditional economic pillars: energy from Russia, exports from China, and reliance on the US defense apparatus. This should serve as a compelling wake-up call for the European Union. Draghi indeed also highlighted the consequently urgent need for substantial investments, estimating an annual requirement of 500 billion Euros. Notably, one of his key proposals to bridge the funding gap is the introduction of new common EU debt. This measure aims to finance green and digital transitions, bolster competitiveness against global counterparts like the US and China, and fortify EU defense capabilities.

The Urgent Need for Empowerment and Unlocking the Potential in European Elections

While Draghi’s analysis appears pragmatic and aligns with the real needs of the EU in this critical economic juncture amid a shifting geopolitical landscape, it’s crucial to acknowledge the significant scope and potential disruption of his proposal. Making it comprehensible to the public is essential for its practicability and legitimacy. Democratizing the process would enhance its strength and acceptance among the population.

What better and timely occasion than the EU elections for such an endeavor? If this is the case, we would necessitate though a more earnest, substantial, and thorough debate during the EU electoral campaign. It’s yet another reason to emphasize the pivotal significance of European elections, traditionally viewed as secondary to national politics. There’s a growing public awareness regarding the profound impact of decisions made at the European level on their rights and financial well-being as citizens and consumers. Furthermore, there’s a potential challenge to the longstanding political majority that has guided the EU, fostering political uncertainty and signaling a significant shift. These combined factors should propel European elections from the background to the forefront of the political stage.

A Vision for a Stronger, More Democratic, and Federal European Union

The forthcoming European elections can therefore, without any doubt, be depicted as an unparalleled opportunity to advance European integration. This, in turn, would render the EU stronger, more efficient, and resolute in addressing future challenges for the collective interests of all EU citizens. These challenges include maintaining peace, enhancing the economic competitiveness of EU industries, effectively addressing climate change, and proudly competing in global markets despite geopolitical tensions. Additionally, advocating for robust regulation stands as a distinctive element of European identity.

As part of this vision, there is a growing call for an integrated system of European public debt and a common EU fiscal policy. Such measures would not only provide the necessary financial resources to tackle pressing issues but also foster greater unity and solidarity among member states. Overcoming the democratic deficit and enacting institutional reforms are essential steps in this direction, ensuring that Europe can act decisively and cohesively in a rapidly changing world.

To truly strengthen Europe and establish it as a genuine political entity, addressing this deficit with determination is paramount in the next mandate. This entails undertaking indispensable institutional reforms and making changes to the Treaties. Consequently, the European Parliament elections must serve also as a platform for discussing and comparing various proposals aimed at reforming the European constitutional framework.

The goal is to make the European Union more effective and adequate to the challenges ahead, adopting an increasingly federal approach rather than remaining a mere international body. This will involve overcoming unanimity in Council decisions and strengthening the prerogatives of the Parliament, allowing Europe to act with greater determination, consistency, and unity in a constantly changing world.

Embracing Change: Empowering Citizens and Consumers

Hence, it would be deeply concerning if the upcoming European elections were to be squandered as a missed opportunity or deemed the last chance for engaging in a candid and meaningful discussion on objectively different visions of society, politics, and the economy. It’s imperative that political entities shed the outdated and disingenuous façade characteristic of electoral campaigns over the past two decades. Failure to do so risks further alienating voters with tedious ideological controversies rooted in historical events of the previous century, especially among the younger electorate, who increasingly opt for abstention as a response.

This shift in approach would definitively mark the end of a practice that, if we dare to draw a direct analogy between consumers of goods and services and voters as “users” and “beneficiaries” of political decisions, could be seen as a serious and recurring unfair commercial practice. Moreover, it would serve as a fitting homage to the vision of the citizen-consumer, who is poised to assume a more central role in shaping future European policies. We, the EU citizens and consumers, are indeed not merely passive recipients of EU law protections as vulnerable market participants but also the drivers of digital and green transitions in the EU markets, as it is only through our active participation that we can forge more accessible, equitable, and accountable markets for the future.

Building Europe’s Resilient Future

Undoubtedly, as we stand on the precipice of a new era, it is imperative that we forge a new social contract fit to meet the unique challenges of the 21st century. This pact cannot be crafted in isolation; it demands the active involvement of not just institutions and businesses, but also consumers, citizens, and voters. Only through an inclusive, pan-European dialogue can we muster the collective commitment needed to confront global challenges head-on and pave the way for a brighter future for all.

Mario Draghi’s impassioned wake-up call serves as a clear call to action, urging us to rise to the occasion and safeguard Europe’s future in the face of unprecedented trials. It underscores the urgent need for bold initiatives, democratic discourse, and unwavering pan-European cooperation. By heeding this call, embracing innovative solutions, and fostering a spirit of solidarity, Europe can navigate the complexities of the modern age with resilience, unity, and renewed strength. Together, let us embark on this journey fortified by the conviction that our shared destiny is ours to shape.

Marco Pierani, Director Public Affairs & Media Relations, Euroconsumers