A spirit of ambition!
If the ultimate inspiration is the deadline, for Europe, it’s probably 26 May 2019, the date of the next European elections. As the clock is ticking, discussions at this year’s spirits Summit focused on two fundamental questions: what are the major achievements of the EU in the past 5 years? And: can we expect the EU to be sufficiently functional to develop and implement ambitious policies for jobs, growth and trade in the next term? The answers to both questions turned out to be surprisingly positive: despite a perceived permanent crisis, the EU has managed to push forward an ambitious policy agenda in many areas, most of all, trade, and the Single Market still stands strong in its 25th anniversary year. Looking at the next year, despite Brexit, trade tensions with the US, and domestic political uncertainties, there is a general expectation that the EU, and the Commission in particular, will remain in a position to continue with a focused policy approach that is ‘big on the big things, and small on the small things’.
So far so good…yet this is the time when a cosy Brussels-based consensus doesn’t carry the day any more. The myth-busting comments from several of our speakers at the Summit were clear: while the benefits of Europe are real and tangible – and clear to the policy audiences in Brussels (and sectors like ours) – beyond that, the EU and its activities are often too far away and too abstract to resonate in the daily lives of citizens across Europe. Two major conclusions from the event thus were: it is high time we do a better job at explaining the value of Europe. And, as Commissioner Oettinger put it in his opening keynote speech, we need to fight for it. This, then, is the spirit of ambition we need for Europe in 2019!
Click here for some more notes and pictures taken at the event.