“There is a new atmosphere in the European Union, with the believe that Europe is the future of this continent” affirmed Mr. Manfred Weber, MEP and Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament opening the annual European Federalists’ Summer Reception which took place on 5th September in Brussels, gathering hundreds of participants supporting federalism in Europe.
Despite this positive feeling about further European integration, reinforced by the results in national elections in Austria, the Netherlands and France, Mr Weber insisted “it is too early to say that populists are defeated”. “It is foreseen that about 20% of Germans will vote on their national elections for extremist options”, said the conservative leader, before encouraging citizens to take the next European elections in 2019 seriously.
As a key element to motivate citizens he advised all European institutions to “deliver” and highlight the benefits provided by the European Union to European citizens’ daily lives. “If you want to convince people, you must do it through your job, citizens must feel we are working in their interest”.
Mr Weber briefly commented at the end of his speech on some common challenges: Brexit, the protection of rule of law in Poland and the future of Europe. Mr Weber shared his concerns regarding ongoing Brexit talks: if we go to the European elections in 2019 and we are in a transitional period, people across the European Union will feel that leaving the EU would have no consequence”.
Mr Weber recognised the challenges arising from the current Polish situation but praised the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of citizens against the reform of the country’s judiciary propelled by the PiS-led government’s as a positive sign. He was also optimistic about discussions regarding the Economic and Monetary Union. Mr Weber welcomed recent French proposals and celebrated the positive feedback from German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to work together towards the development of a security umbrella for all Europeans.