President Barroso attends Brussels Think Tank Dialogue
A speech by European Commission President Barroso for the Brussels Think Tank Forum 'State of the Union 2013 – Federalism or Fragmentation: Spelling out Europe's F-Word'.
"A half-hearted attitude towards the project of European integration only serves to strengthen its opponents," President Barroso argued, "to concede the political momentum to those on the side of nationalism and populism. Only by calling it by its name do we get a chance to debate the real issues, to make clear what is behind the word federalism.
"Rather than a threat to Member States, functional federalism as developed throughout European history is also a guarantee for subsidiarity: 'Federalism is in itself a concept with two faces: searching for unity whilst recognising, respecting and reconciling genuine autonomy. At its very core is the idea of unity in diversity. Now, what can be more European than that?
"Institutionally, the EU has developed tremendously during the crisis in order to avert fragmentation. The real risk today comes from elsewhere," the President said: "I am deeply concerned about the divisions that we see emerging: political extremes and populism tearing apart the political support and the social fabric that we need to deal with the crisis; disunion emerging between the centre and the periphery of Europe; a renewed demarcation line being drawn between the North and the South of Europe; prejudices re-emerging and again dividing our citizens, sometimes national prejudices that are simply unacceptable also from an ethical point of view."