Areskoug talks about the new European Commission
Katarina Areskoug Mascarenhas began by describing the EU as a global actor in terms of the changing size of Europe in the world over the past decades. The European population has decreased in relation to population increases in other parts of the world, shifting the power and influence elsewhere. In order for the European countries to remain influential on the global arena the importance of cooperation across borders was underlined by Areskoug Mascarenhas.
She went on to some of the many challenges facing the future of EU cooperation, such as migration, security and an increase in social inequalities. These challenges are likely to have had an effect on the rise of euro-sceptical parties across the continent as well as the British vote on leaving the Union, as many European citizens do not feel that globalisation has benefitted them at all. The need for a rules-based global order was underlined as vital for the EU, but Areskoug Mascarenhas admitted that the EU is working in headwind on the international arena.
Areskoug Mascarenhas presented the extensive set of priorities for the next Commission, with a point of departure in the six political guidelines set up by incoming Commission president Ursula von der Leyen:
- A European Green Deal
- An economy that works for the people
- A Europe fit for the digital age
- Protecting our European way of life
- A stronger Europe in the world
- A new push for European democracy
The proposals included promises on various areas such as a carbon border tax as well as a European unemployment insurance. The new Commission will also have an ambition to further intertwine the environmental and economic goals, for instance by increasing the funds and “green goals” of the European Investment Bank.
The audience had a chance to ask questions and several people were interested in the possible impacts of a Brexit on the work of the new Commission. The UK had not appointed a new Commissioner, but it was clear that if the UK leaves without a deal on October 31st, the new Commission would have to handle the big uncertainties a Brexit would entail. Overall, Areskoug Mascarenhas described Brexit as a “sad story” but one that has also proven the benefits of an EU membership to both citizens in and outside the EU.
In conclusion it was clear that the von der Leyen-Commission had ambitious priorities and goals, but due to several challenges facing the EU cooperation, tough negotiations and bargains will be needed for a successful outcome.