Europe in the World Days in Alpbach: "The rule of unanimity has to be abolished!"

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28 Aug, 2023

The second week of the European Forum Alpbach has begun. Until 30 August, European decision-makers meet people from science, business, culture and civil society in Alpbach.

During the next days they will discuss the issues that are currently keeping Europe busy: the financial and economic sovereignty of our continent, the future European security architecture, climate change and the protection of democratic values against authoritarian influences. Andreas Treichl, President of the European Forum Alpbach opened the “Europe in the World Days” with an appeal to question the principle of unanimity: “A bold Europe will finalise what it has started. It will curb its differing national regulations and instead take on the complicated task to change the EU Treaty: The rule of unanimity has to be abolished and not just circumvented where possible. Then, the EU can get serious about its long-awaited enlargement and deepen its common market. Without these bold changes, Europe’s will further lose ground as a geopolitical actor and sooner or later the Union will fail. The current political situation in Europe suggests that unfortunately, this is the more plausible scenario.”

The statements marking the kick-off of the second week relate to the annual theme “Bold Europe”. This is what Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu says in reference to an enlarged EU in the Western Balkans: „A bold Europe is an enlarged Europe. The European Union is the most important economic and peace project in the history of humanity. A bold Europe is a principled Europe. Appeasement of autocrats goes against the principles that form the foundation of the European Union. It is essential within the European Union that bold decisions are also principled decisions. Also, a bold Europe is a united Europe. Unity should not scarify the values.”

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya discusses Europe’s relationship with autocratically led countries: “Today, Belarussians and Ukrainians are paying a very high price for becoming free nations. Defending human rights is not about internal affairs. It’s an obligation of every powerful, free country for those who are on the way to it. Belarus now is a big prison, where about 60.000 people have gone through tortures and detention centers. The European perspective is the best alternative to the Russian world and we have to show this perspective to the Belarussian people.”

Oby Ezekwesili, former Vice President of the World Bank, talks about the relationship between a bold Europe and its neighbour continent Africa: “Boldness from the perspective of an African is nuanced: Europe’s neighbour is Africa. The bureaucrats with the old mindset of Africa need to retire so that this younger generation that understands that it’s about the cumulation of ideas and the diversity of those ideas will take us into a prosperous and equitable future. A bold Europe is a Europe that stops looking at Africa as a humanitarian case. A bold Europe would be a Europe that looks at Africa and sees the possibility of a contiguous zone of prosperity and stability. Not a Europe that makes immigration the heart and mind of its relationship. The truth is: Europe needs Africa. A bold Europe would look at the demographics. By 2030, one out of every three young people in the workforce of the world will be coming from this continent.”

Other prominent speakers include Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Oleksandra Matviichuk from the Centre for Civil Liberties, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, as well as European Parliament Member Reinhard Bütikofer and systems change mastermind Kirsten Dunlop – among many more.