4th Brussels Think Tank Dialogue
The European Union faces a tough choice between federalism and fragmentation. The momentum for further integration is building up amid talk of ever more “Unions” – banking, fiscal, political etc. But there is also a disconnect between political ambitions and popular sentiments, with many making common cause with anti-European populist politicians. As member states pursue national interests at the expense of solidarity and a common agenda, the EU risks further disintegration.

During the 4th Brussels Think Tank Dialogue, called 'Federalism or Fragmentation: Spelling out Europe’s F-word', the Chairman of the European Commission stressed by a keynote speech the issue of federalism or fragmentation. Panels addressed the issues of EU’s new industrial policy, energy internal market, and EU’s Global Role in a Changing World. Finally, Herman van Rompuy delivered the keynote speech for a further (panel) debate on EU reform. Van Rompuy spoke of his experience of the use of time in the politics of the crisis, and of the importance of a shared sense of direction in efforts to overcome challenges in the eurozone:

Recognising that the length of the economic crisis remains a major concern, the President acknowledged that "growth and employment are not picking up as fast as we had hoped for. […]This means we need more immediate measures to directly support job creation and economic activity. […]The eurozone is much more than the sum of its parts, so it’s not enough to try solve each country situation in isolation. We need to keep looking at the overall picture."

Since European leaders share a common understanding "on the four fundamentals of our strategy: financial stability, sound public finances, immediate action to fight unemployment and long-term reforms", the stake in current debates, said the President, is in fact "timing and sequencing.[…] For each country the challenge is finding the right pace, the right balance […] Again, what matters most is to clearly keep the sense of direction.

Read the full text of the speech on 'A Roadmap for EU Reform: Short-, Medium- and Long-term Challenges'.

It is on finding the right mix between acceleration and deceleration, dealing with differences, the right balance between short and long term, and on direction. Pressure on each other and from other institutions is needed and should continue. In the mean time, Eurozone has been achieved lot of progress on repairing floors in EMU architecture and on convergence for, amoung other BoP current accounts, inflation and public deficits. But there are still differences between north and south and the model has not yet changed in structure.