An unrecognisable Europe

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 November, 2023 at 9:30 am by Andre Camilleri

Last week I was sitting in a cafeteria trying to unwind a bit after a busy day at work. While I was seated gazing at the mesmerising colourful paintings hanging just right behind the cashier, an acquaintance tapped me on my shoulders. Jokingly, he said “Oh, look how pensive. Are you counting the betrayers or the number of daggers? Essentially, I told him that I was trying to decipher a complex matter relating to climate and environmental risks. Certainly, ESG is a novelty, and it requires a deep insight to solve certain complex matters. It is part of the contemporary risk management of banks, primarily pushed by the ECB and the European Commission. Whether it is right or wrong we still need to see.

Beyond risk management, climate change has become a hot political topic in Europe. Hence, those specialising in ESG require a deep economic and political insight for its implementation. Undoubtedly, we must tread carefully to avoid business losses in Europe and ensure our competitiveness in a world characterised by cutthroat competition. If we look at what is currently happening with the Fit for 55 package and the ETS extended to the maritime sector, surely, we can conclude that regulation is being strictly implemented at a European level. And the push is to regulate further. Alas, it is ill-timed. It is in the French interests to accelerate the process of climate transition, especially through the ECB. However, I will not delve into the political aspects of the climate transition and French politics.

Simultaneously, the president of the EU Commission is also pushing for the acceleration of the implementation of climate transition, albeit working in silos and completely detached from the rest of the institutions. Au contraire, the President of the EU Commission’s pushy actions are counter to the French political aspirations. Ursula von der Leyen’s acts are purely political, extending to the perimeter of daring geopolitics. Nevertheless, Europe’s approach towards climate change, and the accompanying transition to decarbonise the continent is a compelling philosophical concept. We all long to live in a continent that fosters a cleaner environment. Unquestionably, if Europe manages to decarbonise the continent by 2050, geographically is set to become a prime location to work and live. Personally, I think that more people would eventually choose to migrate to Europe. 

During our brief conversation, we also had the time to discuss how sad the situation has become, especially when it comes to European politics. We discussed the current international developments. Indeed, we both agreed that diplomatically, the situation degenerated to a point where we cannot even recognise the difference between the good and the bad. Actually, we are required to distinguish between the lesser evil, or generously put the bad and the less bad. That is how desperate the situation has turned out at the international political level. Sadly, political parties are loosely choosing bad and populist candidates. And the electorate is bound to choose the lesser evil. Actually, it is the duty of political parties to provide good candidates to the electorate, especially in a democracy.

Clearly, the disturbing images of children slaughtered in Gaza, murdered Israeli civilians, as well as the appalling graphic images of lined up bodies in Darfur is plainly evil fuelled by bad politicians. Yes, war is evil. And those who pushed for war at the expense of the collective interests of innocent civilians, can only be regarded as an extension of malevolent. The poignant images of children searching for their parent under the rubbles of the wreckage of war is sickening, cruel and heartbreaking. I cannot even bear watching a few seconds, let alone be involved in such a political mess. Europe is completely paralysed and absent. This is not the Europe I believe in. I believe in a different Europe. I believe in a good Europe, that fosters, dialogue, diplomacy and peace. This is not the Europe I knew. It is totally a different Europe. An unrecognisable Europe. Europe must be at the forefront trying to broker a ceasefire, dialogue and peace. Presently, Europe is more focused on enlargement. 

Let us leave the war for a minute and focus on the EU’s enlargement process, including the recommendation of the European Commission to the European Council to start accession talks with Ukraine. Certainly, I have enough time in the coming weeks to write extensively about it, especially in the run-up of the upcoming December European Council. In February 2024, the war in Ukraine will be entering in its second year. The past political decisions, taken mostly by some prominent political figures in Europe, sealed the destiny of our continent for the current decade. Regrettably, their ineptitude pushed Europe to a dangerous political trajectory. Indeed, Europe is at a difficult political juncture. Thankfully, the current European Commission’s mandate is set to expire in June 2024. Europe’s political trajectory is completely different relative to 2019. Surely, we cannot compare 2024 to 2019 when choosing our top representatives.

Nonetheless, when our leaders are negotiating, they must tread carefully. Unquestionably, we cannot have people in charge of our lives with a defence mindset. Our leaders must take into consideration what happened during the past five years and target the main exponents. Indisputably, we require highly trained politicians, including skilful diplomats who are able to recognise the right time when to act and when to speak. These are the basic traits to successful international political gains and to promote peace. We must bear in mind that if the accession of new countries occurs, we are set to change the treaty. My point is that if we are to agree to new accessions, the current rules are bound to change. It is given. However, if we are to change the treaty, and the rules of the game, smaller member states are set to lose. Smaller member states must ensure that unanimity in the sphere of taxes, and common and foreign security policy, CFSP, remain. Enlargement should not be viewed just from a monetary point of view, but also from a defence perspective, especially for those countries who are not part of NATO.

Larger member states are pushing to remove the veto in the area of CFSP. They want to twist the hands of smaller member states. If this occurs, it will fuel antagonism in Europe and supplementary fragmentation. Hence, we cannot just give in to enlargement talks without assessing the risks involved. And by risks involved I mean the geopolitical risks, as well as the neutrality risks, including the risk of committing to accession talks with a country currently involved in a war. What is about to happen, next? Suggest triggering Article 42.7? I hope not. We just need to wait and see.

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