Proposals on EU future at debate

The Catalan Group on the Future of Europe sent their conclusions to the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe before the Reflection Group presented their results to the European Council. Today’s event was a way to foster debate in Catalonia on these issues and a way to show the results from the analysis by the Catalan Group on the Future of Europe. President of the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe 2020-2030 (and former Spanish PM) Felipe González. has summed up the conclusions.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

October 9, 2010 12:08 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- At a meeting at the Catalan Government’s Palace today, the Catalan Group on the Future of Europe presented again the conclusions of their analysis to Felipe González, the President of the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe. The conclusions had already been sent to González last March, before the Reflection Group at EU-level finished their report in order to bring in new ideas and views from Catalonia. The Catalan Group’s conclusions were once again presented at the event. In addition, a Catalan language version of the Reflection Group’s report was presented in order to foster debate in Catalonia on the future of the EU.

Catalan proposals focus on the strengthening the Union for the Mediterranean and on more efficiency in the EU transport infrastructure policy, underlining the need for the strategic Mediterranean railway corridor. Another proposal deals with integrating regions with legislative powers into the EU decision-making process.

Former Spanish Prime Minister and Chairman of the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe 2020-2030, Felipe González, mainly talked about the social model. He stated that the retirement age should be pushed forward to beyond 65 years old in order to maintain the public pension system. The demographic pyramid’s shape is changing, as the population is getting older and the birth rate is dropping. “I personally defend a public pension system. I want to maintain it. And as I defend it, I want it to be sustainable. In order to be sustainable, it needs to be reformed”, explained González. He also defended the right of people to decide when they will stop working.

Felipe Gonzalez also debated against an argument stating that more jobs for older people means less jobs for younger ones. Some say that delaying retirement by one year would mean 200,000 less jobs for young people. Gonzalez exclaimed that, “on the contrary, there will be a need for an active population!” He explained that according to predictions, in 2030, 30% of the population in Spain would be more than 65 years old.

The event was also chaired by the President of the Catalan Government, José Montilla. He declared that now is the time “to consolidate the European project”. The event took place at the Catalan Government’s palace in Barcelona.

Gonzalez referred to Catalonia and underlined its wager to shift towards a highly competitive and innovative economy with first-level technological centres and a lot of investigation. “I would really like people to talk about this, about what is happening and what is not being spoken about. Let’s see if we can really talk about the problems that are affecting us and our offspring”, he lamented.

The Reflection Group on the Future of Europe

In 2007, the European Council decided to create an expert group at the EU level to reflect on the future of Europe. The group was formed to reflect on the future of the EU’s institutions, economy, social model, Welfare state, external relations, etc. Its horizon was set for 2020-2030 and the thesis question became focused on how the EU should look like by then. The group was formed by former chiefs of states and governments, as well as leading businessmen, cultural personalities and academics. It is a multidisciplinary group of leading minds who bring their unique expertise and think beyond the current framework. It has had 3 years to calmly debate, gather opinions and develop a conclusion report to give to the European Council. The group was chaired by the former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González.

The Catalan Group on the Future of Europe

In January of 2009, Catalonia created an equivalent group to present proposals to define the future of Europe by 2020-2030. Last March, the Catalan group sent 40 proposals to Gonzalez and the Reflection Group. Some of the members of the Catalan group are former Spanish Ministers, including Joan Majó, Eduard Punset, Josep Piqué, Narcís Serra and Joan Clos. There are also former members of the European Parliament such as Carles Gasòliba, Josep Verde and Concepció Ferrer and former General Director of UNESCO, Federico Mayor Zaragoza.