European integration must continue, says Verheugen

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With the urgency of the financial crisis, Günter Verheugen, former Vice President of the European Commission voiced the need for further European integration, in a video interview with EURACTIV. 

Speaking in the margin of a EURACTIV's workshop on the 'Future of Europe,' Verheugen stressed the importance of fostering deeper EU integration, adding it is the only way the EU can “cope with the challenges of the future”. 

"We are in a changing global environment and I have to say that only a stronger and bigger Europe can cope with the challenges of the future," he stressed, adding policymakers should galvanise support for 'widening' the Union to include strategic partners, like Tukey.

Despite the lack of support in our societies, European integration must continue,” Verheugen said.

The former EU Commissioner spoke about the need to prepare a reform agenda, while underlying the importance of institutional change, including functioning procedures and results.

During the workshop, others discussed issues, such as popular dissatisfaction with EU elites and uncertainties about Europe's future.

"We should address the reasons why people are dissatisfied or at least uncertain. This can deliver very clear results in order to strengthen public support." Verheugen said, conceding there is a need for a progressive approach to further integration.

"At this moment, I would not say that it’s useful to talk about the next step being the political union. It’s too early to talk about the need to have a United States of Europe or a federal state. I don’t see a single European nation prepared to abandon its own statehood in favour of a super state," 

Integration dilemma

European integration is facing a serious dilemma, said Cinzia Alcidi, head of Economic Policy Unit at CEPS. Talking about the underlying problems of integration tradeoffs, she cited the problem of ‘further integration [having] declining returns’.

“There is a big trade off because on one side without further integration it seems that we cannot go further. On the other side, given the crisis situation, integration becomes very difficult.” Alcidi told EURACTIV.

“One important thing to keep in mind is that further integration has declining returns. The more you are integrated, the smaller is the return you get because you have to give up a lot of sovereignty.” said Alcidi. Verheugen also mentioned difficulties surrounding further integration, naming issues such as lacking public support and fears over the loss of national sovereignty.

"It’s too early to talk about the need to have a United States of Europe or a federal state. I don’t see a single European nation prepared to abandon its own statehood in favor of a super state" he said. 

Read the full interview here >> Verheugen: Europe cannot do it without Turkey

According to Simone Kaslowski, Responsible for EU Affairs at TUSIAD "For Turkey and the Turkish industry, Europe has been extremely important and meaningful. Europe is a particular model of integration that is not only about a customs union. There is a big social part to it, there is a political part to it and its really also a model for democracy and healthy globalisation."

“Probably it’s also the only project that has within it all these aspects. Therefore its really critical that it survives and not only survives, but also thrives”.

 

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