Here in Davos, while the second day already slips away, it was time for Europe to get under the spotlight of the richest people in the world attending the World Economic Forum. The “EU has become a microcosm of the world’s issues”, Robin Niblet, the moderator of yesterday’s morning panel discussion early underpinned.
Yesterday morning’s session, called “the future of Europe”, apart from the moderator who is the Director of Chatham House, hosted a number of EU leaders too. French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, the infamous German minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schaueble and the powerful Italian business woman, President of BUSINESSEUROPE, Emma Marcegaglia, were all there to ensure a stimulating dialogue on the future of Europe.
The French Premier talked mostly about the need for European coordination against terrorism. “Terrorism must bring Europe together.”…”It is not just Paris that was stricken. In the past terrorism attacks have taken place in London, Denmark, Madrid”. “We are at war, world war, global war!”, the French Prime Minister cried out. Mr Valls mentioned the word war quite a few times indeed: “We will have to live for many years with terrorism, decades… that is why it is a war”.
For the French politician the solution to great problems lately like terrorism, security and the migration crisis is located in pursuing more Europe rather than less Europe.
Particularly, concerning the migration problem, he said “we cannot abandon Africa to terrorism. We have a total disorganisation… We also have this flow from Libya into Europe… We have to have the means to intervene: diplomacy, acting together… from the north to the south… The crisis in Syria does not only concern the mediterraneam countries, but everyone”.
Concerning the European economy, France supports a coherent united Europe with a liberalisation of the common market in digital and energy to create jobs and prosperity in the block.
Referring to the Greek crisis, he said: “It would be a historic mortal mistake to let Greece out of the Eurozone.” Similarly he described the event of a Brexit a “tragedy”.
“We need more Europe. Europe should be more united”, was the main message of Manuel Valls in Davos this year.
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, whose country currently holds the Presidency of the European Council, mainly spoke about the migrant crisis and how the EU needs to agree on a coordinated solution to stop the influx, before the migrant number”quadruples” during Spring and Summer in the Mediterranean sea. Topics like the EU-Turkey cooperation, the success of hotspots in Greece and Italy as well as the relocation procedures would be a vital part of the talks during the much anticipated February EU Council.
The salvation of the Schengen is for the Dutch politician a major point of discussion. His cynical view on the matter goes like that: “Before we kill Schengen, we need to reform Dublin system”. He later continued by saying: “We can save Schengen if we get a grip in the next 6 to 8 weeks”.
Concerning the sluggishness of the European economy, Mr Rutte was openly in favour of opening up the EU common market in every possible way: “Strange situation talking about a European common market… 35% of the European economy is a common market… What we will try to do is to liberate the digital, services directive, open up professions that are protected in many countries and are an impediment to growth and success. 1.5 trillion euro will come to Europe after this liberalisation of the 65% remaining market”.
Alexis Tsipras, the rookie of Davos, who would have never dreamt about sitting a panel discussion at the majestic Congress Hall of the Davos Congress Centre, gave a “Greek style” speech. His arrival to Davos came post his humiliation during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) last September, the wanna be competitor of WEF at the other side of the Atlantic, where Bill Clinton hammered him for his bad English and his poor knowledge not only about the world affairs and stakes but even about his own country.
To begin with, he chose to speak in Greek, not really to promote the Greek language to humanity but mostly because this Prime Minister speaks an elementary school level of English.
With his decision to speak in his mother tongue, he forced the organiser to hire the only Greek translator in Davos, as it is well known that Greece is almost always absent from Davos, with typically having anything from 1 to 0 participants. This clearly shows how Greece is considered of nano value in the world’s state of affairs and signifies how Mr Tsipras was not too well fitting here.
In fact, Mr Tsipras spoke to the top level public of Davos as if he was talking to his Syriza comrades at the Greek parliament, failing terribly to empathise with the stakes of the game. To a certain extent, his total inexperience can justify that.
The leftist Premier, who lately moves more and more to the centre because he likes his job too much, implementing harsh conservative structural reforms on his country, from the first moment denied any responsibility in the escalation of the migrant crisis at his Greek seas. Instead, he repeated an easy political artifice, underscoring how the problem is not just Greek but a “European” or “PanEuropean” or even “global” one, as he stated. Although his sayings are really an obvious common sense, he rather vaguely addressed the issue, possibly due to lack of knowledge, talking about how Europe has to find a commonly coordinated mechanism to solve the problem.
Coming to the hot issue of the Greek crisis, which by the way is not a hot issue any more and nobody truly cares about it so much rather than the Greek ambitious politicians, the Greek media and the Greek pensioner who is living in dear poverty, Mr Tsipras again did not say a lot either. Possibly he does not know or he does not have the necessary advisors around him to tell him that he cannot repeat the same agenda and the same arguments whenever he is given the microphone.
If someone pays attention to Mr Tsipras’s argumentation in the past 12 months, and even that is even questionable to a certain extent, she will notice that it has always been about Greece suffering 25% loss of the GDP, unemployment rates skyrocketing to 25%, how Greece needs growth (“not just balanced budgets”), the bad kleptocracy of the past and so on. Nothing is new in the Greek Premier’s agenda, and nothing is anticipated to be new actually, not just because of his inexperience but mainly because the Greeks seem to be living in a parallel sunny – funny planet with its own small size and understanding.
At the end of his void speech, Mr Tsipras copied the populist void phrase that is being spread at the EU Councils in Brussels and was expressed also by the French Premier previously: “We need more Europe”.
The biggest worry of the infamous German politician is clearly the migrant crisis. Replying to Niblet’s question about how much more can Germany stand the influx, he plainly said: “the question of how long we can cope with such an inflow of this magnitude I dont want to reply to”. He later continued: “We agree the inflow is too high. We have to concentrate on how to revert this situation. We need to invest billions to reduce the pressure on the external frontiers”.
The rest of his speech was mainly about the perennial beliefs of Mr Schaeuble that the EU institutions need to steal more power and sovereignty from the national parliaments, how the member states need to follow ECB’s rules and EU treaties to the letter and how “every European country has to solve its problem”.
His most interesting remark though came out after a question from the public about a new Marshall plan in Europe to face the migrant crisis. It went like this: “we don’t need the Marshall plan for Europe, only for the regions that have been destroyed. We need something similar. Billions of euros into the countries of origin of the refugees.”
The powerful lady of the panel, Chairman of Eni and President of BUSINESSEUROPE, Europe’s most powerful lobby business association, reiterated her points about a united Europe that will forge a clear competitive investment and business strategy. “Enhancing growth… We need more Europe… energy union, digital union… we need it….we are importing 50% of our gas!”.
She then continued by referring to the 4th industrial revolution: “Digital is very important…4th revolution… huge opportunity… we need to work on this and we need to do it in a very fast way”.
Coming to Europe’s biggest issue at the moment, the migrant crisis, the Italian businesswoman concluded that: “the real answer is to act as a whole”.
Stay tuned from 20 to 23 January as the Sting will be once more producing top class critical LIVE media coverage from the Congress Centre in Davos, Switzerland.
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