Iulian CHIFU // Moldova's chance after Rome anchoring to federal Europe
At 60 years since signing the Treaty of establishing the European Communities, the meeting in Rome marked, both, an anniversary moment and a deeply pragmatic one. Eventually, the European Commission and the Heads of State and Government needed to send a message of unity before the formal announcement of accessing the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by Britain and the initiation of negotiations for leaving the EU. Because on 29 March, Prime Minister Theresa May will formally announce the Brexit.
There were two major issues of the Rome Declaration: the formal consecration of Europe with two or more gears, of Europe with variable geometry or the one of concentric circles - in fact, breaking Europe and moving the decision to the Europe's strict hard core, although the decision concerns and affects all Member States. Then the European defense and security issue, that will not contradict NATO, will not duplicate efforts and will not push beyond common defense system of US, Canada and UK.
Alternatively, the agreement also had two necessary points: first, to save Jean Claude Juncker's approach and to maintain the five options strictly within the space of those proposed. Secondly, not to destroy the favored option of the founding states for the third solution (Europe with two or more gears), respectively, to maintain the possibility of associating for further integration, more profound, of those who want this.
The act of Rome opened important paths and for the Associated States and for the applicant ones: If the integration perspective creates problems both to the aspirants and to the Member States, and creates, at the same time, nervousness in Moscow, the addressed option is more flexible and with strong opportunities for European integration. So, anyone who wants, can rally in European projects, step by step or faster, depending on their own political will, reforms and desire.
It's also the case of Republic of Moldova: it can enter in the core of the European projects, if it wishes, even without becoming a member, by having a more integrated posture more skeptical, reluctant or less anxious than that of a Member State. Thus, it can anchor itself directly to the European project and participate in projects as long as it proves reforms and the will of the people of deeper integration. But it is Moldova's job to pull Bruxeles, to show what it did and to wish for the integration, not Brussels to drag Moldova, to do the necessary reforms. And Romania will always be there to help in this direction.
Playing at high risk: From the split of Europe to the explosion of the European project
The European leaders have chosen the best and unique option for today. Even if it means a high risk game. First of all, it relied on a constructive ambiguity of formulations, on solutions that will give a signal of unity and will reverse the trend of negative emotions and reversal of European unity. Such an approach has a chance of stemming the centrifugal tendencies, especially as the states begin to see the treatment to which is subjected UK and the EU abandonment costs, so the constraint plays a major role.
Then, the coherence is ensured by the presumed will of the founding states to move forward and to continue the integration of a federal Europe. More quickly, without jamming, by giving up the national attributes, to a formula developed in the United States of Europe. It is true that here remains the over-optimistic assessment that Western societies - the first that addressed the skepticism and the fatigue, the populism and the blocking of European integration - would go forward with popular majority support and without the side effects to give birth to a negative reaction of rejection of such a trend.
The present approach marks a major shift in the approach, but also introduces a much higher level of accepted risk. Going on a federal Europe is an act of courage, of European spirit pushed to maximum, it drives away the risk of a two-geared Europe (or more), the risk of an Iron Curtain relocated in Eastern Europe, as characterized by the President Klaus Johannis . But it relaunches the possibility of even greater risk: the explosion of the European project, if this path does not work or if the populism prevails in Europe. And the presidential elections and subsequently the general ones in France are characteristic for the chance of this project.
Personally, I would have opted for a more moderate and realistic option, that involves lower risks and better chances for a united and whole Europe: integration, but at the rate that it would not lose the present gains nor the existing members of the project. But it was not in the five options of Juncker, it did neither satisfy the desire of the founding states of exceptionalism, to be able to choose to move forward on their own, even if they are not followed by their own citizens.
The current version brings major advantages and for the Associated States: of the Western Balkans that have the commitment of the Thessaloniki on the European integration perspective, and of those from the Eastern Partnership. Because the integration perspective can provoke multiple reactions and it may take time, it may be too sudden and to costly internally, the offered option of elections by the book, of embraced projects allow that, after access to the free trade and free movement, the following steps should be elected by the person concerned.
The effects of changes are multiple: for the Member States, it means mobilizing their own political class to produce reforms and changes in their own country, to be as close as possible to the developments of the European core and to matter as much as possible. For candidate countries or associated ones, the option is still the one of reforms and of EU approximation through their own efforts, and then pointing out that you can embrace slices of the acquis and the European project closer to the membership charter and to new integrationist projects of perspective.
It's an opportunity, but already the asymmetry of the relationship moves from the EU, which dragged the Member States, the candidate countries associated to these states themselves, that have to prove reforms, the will and the desire of joining to federal Europe as expensive as such project would be for national sovereignties. All because no state will survive, in the future, by its own the globalization, and the integration is the only chance.
The "multi-geared" Europe reached "different rhythms and intensities" of integration.
"The greatest danger that it would bring assumption of a concept of Europe with multiple gears in the EU declaration of Rome would be the return to the geometry of the Iron Curtain", said the President Klaus Iohannis in a press conference at the end of 60-year anniversary summit since the signing of EU treaties. "If we would accept two-geared Europe, sooner or later, the second gear was in the East. Then it would come back the fears deep of the Easterners: to be left behind. I made several arguments and there were arguments in support of my exposure and I managed eventually to find expressions better," concluded the President.
In the Joint Declaration of Rome is kept the mitigating tone on multi-geared Europe, with reference to a Europe with different rhythms and intensities, which respects the right of all to join the enhanced cooperation and assumes that all Member States shall go together in the same direction.
"The Unity is both a necessity, and also our free choice. At individual level we would be marginalized by global dynamics. Together we have the most likely chances to influence it and to defend our common interests and values. We will work together with different rhythms and intensities where it is necessary, but going in the same direction as we did in the past, in accordance with the Treaties and keeping the door opened to those who wish to join later.Our Union is undivided and indivisible" reads the text of the statement. "Any enhanced cooperation between several Member States must comply with the EU Treaties and to be opened on the basis of objective criteria to all Member States", also transmited President Klaus Iohannis in the text of Romania's contribution to the joint statement at Rome.
The substantial difference is that any new step more powerful must go through treaties, ie to have the agreement of all existing members. So the specific difference is that the decision is left to all Member States. The decision will not be taken by some, while others suffer the consequences. A major point of negotiation, gained by the new members and small states.
The main message remains, undoubtedly, the unit of Europeans in the context of the unprecedented challenges and in the wider context of a debate more heated on the future of Europe: a union with multiple gears and a union that prepares to negotiate the exit of Great Britain from its institutional architecture. The European Union is defined as "a community of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, a parallel economic power with levels of social protection and welfare." However, the main commitment that leaders took aims to create a stronger European Union through a stronger solidarity and unity.
Security and Defense: Cooperation and complementarity with NATO
And on this dimension, the compromise could be identified. Under the title A stronger Europe on the global stage, the text provides a union that develops further existing partnerships, builds new ones and promote stability and prosperity in its eastern and southern neighborhood, but also the Middle East, across Africa and globally . Then the Western countries and military equipment companies find their desire to support at European level by providing a Union ready to take on more responsibilities and help create a more competitive and integrated defense industry.
On the other hand, the Western countries, France in particular, have yielded fully to the existing reality and the transatlantic partnership, accepting a union determined to strengthen the security and defense policy, in cooperation and in complementarity with NATO, by taking into account national circumstances and legal commitments. Basically, the theme of European army disappeared in the known formula, and the partnership with NATO or the preeminence of NATO common defense affairs was re-established in the spirit of the Joint Declaration of the Warsaw Summit.
Finally, the EU it is stated as a Europe of liberal-democratic values, of an open society and inclusive societies. A Europe of whose values are defined in direct opposition to the populism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, discrimination, exceptions, inequalities and privileged access of some resources.
Through this position, the EU it is stated as a absolute rival of totalitarian and oppressive systems such as in Russia, and at variance with the current approaches of the US President, Donald Trump, even if common values and principles are maintained and the transatlantic relationship emerges refreshed after the Declaration of Rome, which threaten this size. Institutionally, the EU is close to America and to this day, but not with the inappropriate populist/isolationist and discriminatory starts that promotes the current US president, to which the approach seems to be that the American political and democratic system must react to bring to respect the values of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. And this is an outcome of the democracy.