Who should be the next EU Commission President? Which of the Spitzenkandidaten do you support? With only a week to go until the European Parliament elections, we’re putting your questions to some of the lead-candidates for Europe’s top job.
Today we’re talking to some of the members of “Team Europe”, the set of seven candidates for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). If you want to know more about their history and backgrounds (as well as why there are seven of them) then be sure to check out our candidate profiles. What would they have to say to our readers?
First up, what would their top priorities be? We had a comment sent in from Jose, who wanted to know what the priorities for the next European Commission should be. What should it focus on after the European Parliament elections? Should it make a radical break with the last five years? Push for more modest reforms? Or stick with the course the EU is currently on?
How would Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition and former Deputy Prime Minister of Denmark (2011-2014), respond?
Next up, we had a comment from Hector, who says (citing Eurobarometer) that trust in the EU has still not recovered since the Eurozone crisis. Looking at the numbers, this does seem to be the case (average trust in the EU was indeed higher before 2012, though there have been signs of improvement in the last couple of years). How would Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the ALDE Group and former Prime Minister of Belgium (1999-2008), help restore trust in the EU?
We have to be proud of what we have built over the last 70 years, but we must also recognise that we have to improve the functioning of the European Union. It is clear that countries alone will not be able to solve the big challenges we face. Immigration, climate change, pollution, how to compete with the new giants such as China and India, etc. All these topics require a European answer. That is what the people expect from us. We must show that we have a plan and fight for it. That is what I try to do every day as Group leader of the European Liberals & Democrats.
Next, we had a comment from Cyril, who wants to know what’s the best way to create jobs and tackle unemployment. He suggests either greater public investment, lower taxes, or a comprehensive reform of tax systems to benefits working and middle class households. What would Emma Bonino, Senator for Rome and former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs (2013-2014), say?
Finally, we had a comment from Ironworker, who says he’s confused by the debate over immigration. How should we think about migration? Is it good or bad for Europe? Or is it impossible to simplify such a complex issue that way? How would Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport, respond?
Immigration is good, but it has to be according to the rules. It has to be controlled immigration. That’s why I’m so in favour of clarifying the rules, clarifying the conditions under which people can engage with the European Single Market, and, of course, imposing the rules. At the same time, while saying that, when I’m at the table I’m always defending rules that embrace dignity, humanity, and rules that embrace creativity and deliverables.
There is no ‘silver bullet’. It’s discussions at the table about what kind of Europe we want tomorrow; do we want to have the industrialisation of Europe? Yes, partially it will be covered by robotics and Artificial Intelligence, but we also need people. And with migration you get different points of view; you get new visions, new hopes, new ideas. So, it’s not only that you want people to work and that’s it.
I’m very much in favour of there being a fluctuation of people on a global scale. I used to work in Silicon Valley for six years, and it gave me enormous experiences but, of course, because I liked European culture I came back, and I’m happy to have had this experience and, because of it, I can engage in Europe much better. And that would also apply to colleagues who come from other parts of the world and want to immigrate to Europe; some will stay here, some will go back and take parts of the European experience back with them…
Will you support the ALDE candidates for EU Commission President? Or would you prefer one of the other candidates? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!