The former vice president of the European Commission Joaquín Almunia said Thursday in Montevideo that "the hardships of the British" before the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU), the brexit, can be an incentive to give a new impetus to the integration European
He who was also Minister of Spain on two occasions, who gave a keynote speech in the Uruguayan capital about the current challenges of the European bloc, said that, at a time when the European integration project is surrounded by populist threats and the Brexit is still in process, the EU must continue to move forward.
In that sense, the Spanish expert indicated that the importance of the next European elections is "evident", since the process will not be easy.
"The challenge we have is very relevant (…) not only is our well-being at stake, but the possibility that Europe will not be left behind in a distribution of world economic and political power that could be concentrated in two great superpowers (China and United) leaving us in a less relevant place, "he explained.
The former secretary-general of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) has thus come to terms with the protectionist threats and the questioning of multilateralism. Europe must react by remaining open, without enclosing itself in its own borders.
In this way, the politician stressed that what the EU lacks is "leadership" and a new impetus in its integration project.
"The European integration has had brilliant moments, it has very solid achievements, but we are at a time when perhaps the hardships of the British are an incentive to give a new strategic vision to this important project," he said.
On the other hand, Almunia considered that the relations between Latin America and Europe have not managed to find a "powerful and constant" channel to reach agreements.
Although he said that on the EU side there are difficulties in integrating the priorities of each of the member countries, the former minister said that what is lacking is "a prior political consensus" on the relationship.
The politician opined that this is evident in the trade negotiations between the EU and Mercosur, where after more than thirty rounds of negotiations without success it is clear that there are issues that must be resolved first at a political level.
Anyway, reaffirmed that there are alternatives that can result.
"At this moment, there is an opportunity that we should not miss, neither of which is (…) to seek partners bilaterally in free trade agreements as ambitious as possible," he concluded.
The conference "The challenges of the European Union" was organized by the Astur Foundation and the Delegation of the EU in Uruguay.