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SPECIAL INTERVIEW. Simon Taylor, Editorial Events Manager – POLITICO: ”Brussels is an important centre for the energy policy and POLITICO reflects that”

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Special correspondence from Brussels – Dan Cărbunaru, Robert Lupițu

POLITICO Europe, the main European media actor, organised this week (16 September) an event focused on ”Energy Visions – Dash for Gas: Energy Diplomacy and Diversification”, where as key speakers were invited Adina Vălean, Vice President of the European Parliament and MEP of the Year for energy sector, Miguel Angel Caneta, European Commissioner for Climate Change and Energy and executives from Shell and E.On companies. 

At the end of the conference, Simon Taylor, Editorial Events Manager at POLITICO offered a brief interview for CaleaEuropeana.ro, speaking about the main conclusions of the event, the importance of a European approach on energy issues, but also about POLITICO’s role in the media market in Brussels.

Dan Cărbunaru (D.C.): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and our followers on CaleaEuropeana.ro. We are in Brussels today joining a very important event about the future of energy in the European Union, dash for gas and an important event organized by Politico Europe, the main voice of the European media. After speaking with the European commissioner of Energy, Miguel Angel Caneta and Mrs. Adina Vălean, member of the European Parliament and focused on energy issues, what can you tell us about this event?

Simon POLITICOSimon Taylor (S.T.): I think it showed off some of most important issues. One is how much gas will Europe need in the future and there are different views on this. We learned from the Lithuanian Energy minister who said that they built and NLG terminal to import liquefied natural gas from the world and they actually made Gazprom to cut the gas prices in order to compete. It showed off very clearly that the more East you go the more dependent countries are on Russia, on Gazprom. It’s very much a security issue. For Western Europe it’s question of what role can energy efficiency imply. Those who called for important debates and I think the Commissioner has a very pragmatic attitude, underlined that it is important for an energy mix, to invest time and efforts to security supplies, but you should also invest in infrastructure, interconnection and you could have a more competitive market. That way you can reduce the monopoly power of a supplier like Gazprom and make sure that you have security of supply in winter when energy becomes a politicised issue

D.C.: POLITICO it is one of the key players in the media market in Europe. How important is the role of media in these talks about energy issues? Sometimes it appears to be a technical or political issues but it has very important social effects.

S.T.: I think POLITICO is here in Brussels for a reason, because we identified Brussels as a centre of power and of important decision-making that affects energy companies. At this event we had executives from Shell and E.On, because decisions that are taking here in the European Parliament, by MEPs like Mrs. Vălean affect energy companies whether there is the emission trading system, whether it is the internal energy market, whether it’s interconnections, whether it’s reverse flows. Brussels is an important centre for the energy policy and POLITICO reflects that. This is why we have a specialised newsletter, a daily newsletter focusing on energy issues.

D.C.: It seems that POLITICO, after entering in Brussels, started to change the way how the media role will be played. I saw some articles in the British media regarding the day that Politico journalists are making their job. How are the journalists of Politico integrating themselves in this area?

S.T.: I think there is being a slightly differential tradition in the European and political reporting, maybe to much difference to the Commission and the MEPs. POLITICO’s approach will be fair, but critical and when we will see things that are not going well we will speak that. Our style is aiming to be readable, accessible to people who are not EU or Brussels experts as we call them. So they are people who across Europe and across the 28-Member States, but also from the US or Asia can follow what is going on in Europe. There is a lot of interest in the decisions being taken here and to follow it in a readable and accessible way – that’s POLITICO’s mission. I think it is one we are on the way to achieving

D.C.: Thank you so much. For the final remarks what is your message for the Romanians citizens interested in European and global affairs? Tens of thousands of them are following us on Facebook, on Twitter on our website. What is your message for ”Romanian consumers” of European information?

S.T.: I looked at your website when we got in touch about this event and I was very impressed about the coverage and it seems like a very useful resource and I would say to your viewers to carry on watching, start watching if they haven’t done so, but there a lot of sources out there. So, combine them and get a richer picture. 

D.C.: Thank you so much and we wish you success on what you do in Brussels.

S.T.: Thank you!

Simon Taylor is Editorial Events Manager at POLITICO.

Previously, Simon held a similar role at European Voice, where he served as news editor between 2010 and 2012 and senior reporter between 2006 and 2010.

He has written for the Guardian and the Sunday Times and was Brussels correspondent for IDG News Service in 2004-06.

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Robert Lupițu este redactor-șef, specialist în relații internaționale, jurnalist în afaceri europene și doctorand în domeniul reasigurării strategice a NATO. Robert este laureat al concursului ”Reporter și Blogger European” la categoria Editorial și co-autor al volumelor ”România transatlantică” și ”100 de pași pentru o cetățenie europeană activă”. Face parte din Global Shapers Community, o inițiativă World Economic Forum, și este Young Strategic Leader în cadrul inițiativelor The Aspen Institute. Din 2019, Robert este membru al programului #TT27 Leadership Academy organizat de European Political Strategy Center, think tank-ul Comisiei Europene.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: The last day with Great Britain in the EU, the first day of a new relationship that we want to be close

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Great Britain, the historical partner of the EU, leaves our table but remains a friend of the European Union, said MEP Vasile Blaga in a statement sent to CaleaEuropeană.ro.

December 31 is the last day on which the UK still applies Community law, and from January 1 the Brexit agreement will be applied, having already been signed by European officials.

“There are a few more steps for this agreement, concluded in extremis, on Christmas Eve: the evaluation of the agreement by the European Parliament, the British Parliament and its ratification by the Parliaments of all Member States,” said Blaga.

“We are talking about an extremely important agreement given that official figures show that over 3 million EU citizens live in the UK and over one million Britons live in one of the 27 Member States. The agreement has been worked on, and often on the brink of collapse, by a team led by Michel Barnier who deserves congratulations for the tenacity with which he defended the rights of European citizens and European companies. It is an unprecedented agreement, no other such agreement has been concluded by the EU so far, from a commercial and economic point of view. Basically, the historical partner of the EU leaves our table but remains a friend of the EU. Because not even a democratic vote can cancel a family relationship and a history like the one between Europe and Great Britain “, declared Vasile Blaga.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: “A coordinated vaccination campaign at European level, an example of unity and solidarity”

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, PPE) welcomes the start of the vaccination campaign at the same time in the European Union.

„The debut of the European level vaccination campaign, which is more or less simultaneous in all European Union states, has not been able to mobilize the EU to be able to provoke the annulment of all countries.” It is clear that you are critical of the address of the module in the European Commission to manage the contracting seminar with vaccines, tattoos, but through care, the moment of this moment, the functioning of the European Union, according to the European Plan.

The European MP informed Romania about the 150,000 vaccine dose of Pfizer BioNtech: „The European Commission has allocated 10 million vaccine doses for Romania to COVID 19″, said Vasile Blaga.

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Op-ed: Biden can help unite Europe. A closer political union is the rational outcome for Europe, and a globalist U.S. President can assist even passively

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A closer political union is the rational outcome for Europe, and a globalist U.S. President can assist even passively, writes former Romanian PM Mihai-Răzvan Ungureanu, in a joint op-ed with two US experts. The op-ed released to CaleaEuropeană.ro is published as an epistemic response to a piece authored by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Klaus Leggewie in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung calling for a German-French Federation as a “breath of fresh air” for Europe. 

By Robert Braun, Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu and Dan Perry

The incoming Biden Administration is expected to break with its predecessor’s obsessively transactional foreign policy, enabling progress on issues ranging from global warming to international trade to human rights. An important consequence, not obvious from headlines at the moment, involves Europe.

Outgoing President Trump’s evident disdain for global cooperation, supranational governance and the European Union in particular has had a devastating effect on those who yearn for greater European political union. It emboldened the UK’s Brexiteers, Euroskeptic leaders in the east and nationalists in almost every country, creating a paralytic continental bad karma. Trump’s departure holistically offers a moment for the European Union to regain its ambition, boldness and creativity.

The EU embodied a successful economic vision, but failed to transform that business case into a shared political values to an extent that could drive action. The treaties of Maastricht and Rome ultimately amounted the rhetorical flourishes and bureaucratic advances that could not sweep aside nationalist resistance. This is now best exemplified by the  Polish-Hungarian effort to derail the European budget and halt political oversight over individual countries’ authoritarian practices.

If Europe is to make its mark in the world, it needs a bold vision for political union: tighter control over exploitive and corrupt practices of local and multi-national companies, an inclusive social net with universal basic income, a welfare system socially and economically strengthening unions and representation bodies, and safeguards for the independence of the free press, of universities and of civic-cultural institutions.

A unified Europe can be a beacon of progressive values and modernity to the world. This should be the response to those in the world who derided Europe as an ossified vessel of yesterday while benefitting from its values. 

This will strengthen Europe, and make it a better partner to a rejuvenated, post-Trump United States – and to other democracies. It is a vision that the new U.S. Administration will be able to get behind.

Of course, this is not currently the direction of things, nor will it be without an electrifying course correction. In theory, there would be a variety of ways to shock the system. We’d like to throw our support in favor of constitutional unification of Germany and France, an idea floated recently by French MEP and 1960s student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit and German political scientist Claus Leggewie.

France and Germany have fought bitter wars, and can view each other through a narrow lens of stereotype and historical grievance. They have different labor market politics and instincts about fiscal and monetary policy. They speak different languages, and each possesses a profound patriotic instinct that may seem at odds with a ceding of national sovereignty. France is also more interested than Germany in a European security mechanism independent of the United States.

And they both have fostered business interest, sometimes at the expense of others in the European Union, that were grounded in “nation first” ideals.

And yet, France and (West) Germany are the two largest founding members of the European Economic Community that grew into the EU of today. The differences between their political and economic structures are minor when one considers their common fealty to Western and European values of the post-Renaissance and Enlightenment.  They are also the two strongest forces for political union among major EU members; there is a scenario where they agree to blaze the path.

A constitutionally unified, politically strong core would create economies of scale – combined population of 151 million and GDP of 6.73 trillion that make up 40% and 44% respectively of the bloc with the UK factored out – that would be irresistible, and prove that language need not be a barrier in a world in which English (ironically in light of Brexit) and innovation are unifying forces. 

Different languages may pose a challenge. But Canada, even with succession initiatives in Quebec, proves community and understanding are more about shared values than similar languages. Respect for different cultures and strong compassionate leadership are at the core of New Zealand’s political success. There is real reason to assess that a successful Franco-German unification would soon draw in an essentially liberal and internationalist countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark, linguistic satellites like Austria and Luxembourg, and then large countries of the southern cone like Italy, Spain and Portugal. 

What of former east bloc countries where populist nationalists currently hold sway?  The euphoria of expansion was driven by both idealism and business interests, and while it yielded economic growth for the East it also left many in that region with resentments about a perceived neocolonialism, yielding a nationalist backlash.  Deft political diplomacy and considerable sensitivity will be required to avoid a repeat. A strong European political union may create the political momentum to rejuvenate a progressive urban electorate in Eastern Europe as well. Western European politicians should also find ways to acknowledge that peoples east of Vienna are valuable beyond picking asparagus, caring for the elderly and doing menial jobs for less. 

It seems far-fetched today. Nations tend to wait for crises to break established paradigms. We propose getting ahead of the curve. Germany and France can jump-start the process of European unification.

National identity – indeed tribalism – has been one of the building blocks of civilization. The question has always been granularity.  Right now, what is needed for stability, prosperity and global impact is a European identity.  It won’t be easy, because local identities are strong. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. Quite probably, very much lost.

* * *

Historian Mihai Razvan Ungureanu was prime minister and foreign minister of Romania. Social Theorist Robert Braun was a top aide to Hungary’s prime minister and is a senior researcher at Vienna’s Institute for Advanced Studies. Dan Perry was Europe-Africa Editor and Mideast Editor of the Associated Press news agency and is managing partner of the Thunder11 communications firm.

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