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We need a “third way” for Europe!

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De-Matteis“Nationalism is not a solution”, is Pietro De Matteis convinced. As president of the European Federalist Party he fights for the vision of a new European social contract and sends his greetings to all Young European Federalists.

It took the worst crisis since the 1930s, five long years of austerity and constant EU-bashing by our national politicians to hide the failures of their own policies, but finally it happened: the citizens’ trust in the European project is crumbling. As if that was not enough, by opposing any significant reform towards a more democratic union, our politicians paved the way to the rebirth of nationalist movements across the continent. Bravo.

At a time when nationalists and Eurosceptics are riding the fears and the dissatisfaction resulted from the crisis, it has become crucial for each one of us to come out and take the responsibility of ensuring that future generations of Europeans will be able to benefit – as we did – from high quality of life, mobility, peace and, more importantly, hope. Hope for a better future. Hope has become a very scarce resource in today’s Europe, where youth unemployment has reached about 25% in the EU and around 50% in Greece and Spain. If youth is the basis of our future, a hopeless youth translates into a hopeless future. This is something that we cannot accept.

The way the crisis has been managed – and the related social and economic costs – justify the questioning of some of the policies that have (or have not) been implemented and it has become clear to most Europeans that we need to change course. The question is which path to take. On the one hand, the politicians currently in power are behaving as they always did. Even the cleverest ones argue that significant changes are not possible now, and we will have to wait another 20-30 years. But the world will not wait for Europe to fix its own problems, nor can today’s and tomorrow’s generations of young Europeans wait. On the other hand, you have nationalists and Eurosceptics who have noticed some of the problems affecting today’s Europe, but are giving the wrong answers. Leaving the EU, re-establishing internal frontiers and leaving the Euro is like pressing the accelerator of Europe’s decline.

Luckily, there is a third way now. In stark contrast with a dangerous “business-as-usual” scenario proposed by mainstream parties, Europe can count on pragmatic dreamers who believe that the only way to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s challenges is by building a better Europe. This new vision can only be built together with Europeans from across the continent sharing their concerns and proposing common solutions. It is increasingly clear that our countries individually are not anymore able to guarantee growth and jobs as they did in the past. At the same time, today’s Europe does not have yet the democratic mandate or the budget to take the lead. This is creating an enormous capability-expectation gap in people’s minds that is either alienating them from politics or pushing the electorate towards extremes. To address this gap, we need to move towards a “new European social contract” that takes into account the European dimension and not only national situations.

If we take this approach, we will see that what Europeans are ultimately asking for is not to block mobility within the EU – as Cameron and UKIP suggested -, but a more “social Europe” protecting mobile workers/students and job-seekers while reducing social dumping or “welfare tourism”. Europeans want an EU where SMEs can better benefit from the single market and become strong enough to compete globally while being attentive to youth employment and key sectors such as energy, transport and research. A Union where there is no tax competition or tax havens such as those exposed by the #LuxLeaks scandal. A Europe that is an effective foreign policy actor and that is closer to the people. Steps are being taken in the right direction, and at the last elections Europeans indirectly elected the first President of the European Commission among the spitzenkandidaten. The Juncker Commission has also added among its 10 priorities the intention to strengthen the EU democracy dimension. All this is necessary, but not yet sufficient.

To fill this gap between what our citizens want and what the EU is providing today, we need to bring them to the heart of the policy-making process “as Europeans” and not just as German, French, Italian, Polish, etc. nationals. The European Federalist Party (EFP) was established in order to allow our citizens to think about politics “as Europeans” and in order to push other political parties to be more ambitious in their vision for Europe at the time of the elections. We believe that this is crucial to develop a truly pan-European political public space. Another small step in that direction was made at the last European elections when the EFP was able to federate the federalists in Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy and Portugal and present Europe’s first transnational list composed of candidates defending the same pan-European political programme.

If we want to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s challenges we have to think European, and we need to support those political movements that put an ambitious vision for Europe as their “number 1” political priority, like the Young European Federalists. Only a truly democratic and federal Europe can liberate that energy that is latent in European society and trigger a new European Renaissance. The time is now to run if we do not want to miss our meeting with history. Current and future generations of Europeans will not excuse our inaction and will hold us accountable. What will we say to our grandchildren, if we did not even try to change things?

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Robert Lupițu este redactor-șef, specialist în relații internaționale, jurnalist în afaceri europene și 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 crisis in Afghanistan, especially in its social dimension, must have a firm response from the EU

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© Vasile Blaga/Facebook

MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) argues that the current crisis in Afghanistan must be a priority on the agenda of the European institutions, which have resumed their work after the summer break.

In a statement for CaleaEuropeană, MEP Vasile Blaga said that the crisis in Afghanistan, especially in its social dimension, “must have a clear and firm response from the European Union.”

“The European Parliament has put the crisis in Afghanistan on its agenda this session. I expect that all the debates on the situation in Afghanistan will lead to solutions to the serious humanitarian situation that is about to unfold in Afghanistan. The EU, but also the Member States, owe a debt of gratitude to Afghan citizens who suddenly see their security and that of their families threatened”, added the EPP MEP.

The European Union this week began discussing the implications of recent events in Afghanistan for security and migration within the 27-nation Union.

The Foreign Affairs Committee, Development Committee and Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Afghanistan will hear from Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service, who will present an assessment of the latest developments in Afghanistan. European Commission representatives are also expected to address MEPs.

Afghanistan has been rocked by deadly violence and a brutal terror attack against Kabul airport over the past few days, in the midst of U.S. and international troops evacuating from the country by 31 August.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: EU response to future health crises and progress of national recovery and resilience plans, important issues on EP agenda

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MEP Vasile Blaga  (EPP) argues that the September plenary session of the European Parliament should debate as a priority the EU’s instruments in the face of health and humanitarian crises, as well as the progress of National Recovery and Resilience Plans.

According to the MEP, the European Parliament is putting on the agenda extremely important issues for the future of the Union.

„I believe that an EU response to the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic is vital. The future of the Union must find us prepared for potential health threats similar to the coronavirus pandemic. We can all see that a health emergency of the scale of the present one can only be managed by joint measures taken by all Member States. This unfortunate experience of the last two years has shown us the fragility of the EU in the face of external health threats. We need to learn from this so that the negative social and economic effects will not be repeated in the future”, said Vasile Blaga in a statement to CaleaEuropeană.

A second priority, says the EPP MEP, is linked to an accelerated recovery of the EU economies: “National recovery and resilience plans must be urgently adjusted and approved so that investment policies become engines of development in each Member State and, as a whole, kick-start the EU economy as a whole. The European Parliament must closely follow, also during this session, the progress of the national recovery plans and the way each Member State spends the money allocated by the NRRP to achieve the objectives listed in the Recovery and Resilience Facility”, added Vasile Blaga.

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After working on infrastructure projects for NASA and the British Air Force F-35 aircraft, Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure will modernize Campia Turzii Air Base, together with the consortium represented by Leviatan Design

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©️ Forțele Aeriene Române

The British company Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure, with extensive experience in the field of infrastructure and logistics projects of the British Royal Air Force and with collaborations at NASA level, will participate as a subcontractor in the infrastructure project in the operational area of the air base at Câmpia Turzii, according to the announcement on the public procurement platform SICAP.

The British company Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure, with extensive experience in the field of infrastructure and logistics projects of the British Royal Air Force and with collaborations at NASA level, will participate as a subcontractor in the infrastructure project in the operational area of the air base at Câmpia Turzii, according to the announcement on the public procurement platform SICAP.

The tender for the first phase of the project, worth 514 million lei, on “Realization of infrastructure – operational area in barracks 1833 Câmpia Turzii” was won by the joint venture Telekom Romania Communications SA – Ubitech Construcții SRL – Petrodesign SA and Leviatan Design SRL, as leader of this partnership.

“Our consortium has the necessary experience, both from a national perspective, through similar specific projects it has carried out, and from an international perspective, through the partners we collaborate with”, said Cătălin Podaru, director of Leviatan Design, the company that participated in the pre-feasibility study for the multi-roller infrastructure at Câmpia Turzii.

Among the key international partners involved in the Câmpia Turzii project is Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure, part of the Lagan Construction Group Ltd, established in 1962. The Brits build infrastructure to the highest safety standards for Romania’s most important strategic-military partners: Among the most recent major British-managed projects are aviation projects at Dublin Airport and RAF Marham, an important strategic base for the British Royal Air Force, for the operation of F35 multi-role aircraft. The contract to upgrade infrastructure and facilities at RAF Marham is worth £135 million.

Recently, the company has successfully delivered projects at Heathrow, London City Airport, RAF Akrotiri and RAF Gibraltar. In recent years, the company has also executed a £23 million runway resurfacing contract at RAF Northolt.

The group also has a specialist US airport team based in Virginia, Washington DC, currently working at Ronald Reagan National Airport and the Wallops Flight Facility for NASA.

This company’s expertise in infrastructure projects for F-16 aircraft is important for defence projects at Câmpia Turzii, as the Romanian base hosts F-16 aircraft of the Romanian and allied air forces, as well as American MQ-9 Reaper drones.

The Campia Turzii Air Base is one of the key strategic points in Romania’s defence and security infrastructure, being treated as such even by allies. In May this year, the US Air Force announced that the United States will invest $152 million in 15 infrastructure upgrades at Romania’s Câmpia Turzii Air Base.

The first works have already started in May-August 2021. The US Air Force plans to spend $130 million this year on “mission optimisation” at the Romanian air base. This amount is reflected in the Department of Defense budget for this year and represents the largest US military investment in Europe for 2021.

Other new modernisation projects are due to start at the end of 2021.

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