20th Sep 2019

Group of 12 to reflect on future of Europe

EU leaders are on Thursday (16 October) set to approve a 12-member group headed by former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez and tasked with reflecting on how best to deal with Europe's future challenges.

Besides Mr Gonzalez himself and his two vice-chairs - Latvia's former president, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, and Nokia chief Jorma Ollila from Finland - the "wise group" will include members from Italy, Poland, France, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Greece, diplomatic sources told EUobserver.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The group of wise is to report to EU leaders in June 2010 (Photo: EUobserver)

In a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently chairs the six-month rotating EU presidency, Mr Gonzalez has proposed former Polish president Lech Walesa, who led the Solidarity anti-Communist trade union movement in the 1980s; Nicole Notat, the former leader of one of France's biggest trade unions, the CFDT; former EU competition commissioner Mario Monti from Italy; and German conservative Wolfgang Schuster, who is the mayor of Stuttgart, to be among the group's members.

Additionally, Lykke Friis, a Danish academic from the University of Copenhagen will join the team of consigieri, along with Rainer Munz, an Austrian economist and head of research at the Erste Bank in Vienna; Rem Koolhaas, a Dutch architect and urbanist; and Kalypso Nicolaidis, a Greek professor of international relations who has taught at Harvard and Oxford Universities.

The list will be completed by the UK's Richard Lambert – director general of the Confederation of British Industry and a former editor of the Financial Times.

The reflection group – the brainchild of Mr Sarkozy – should start its work from January 2009, according to draft conclusions the 27-member bloc's leaders are to adopt on Thursday.

The idea was first approved at the meeting of EU heads of state and government in Brussels last December, who then appointed Mr Gonzalez to chair the group, which "shall present its report to the [EU leaders] meeting of June 2010."

The former Spanish premier was then tasked to form a team "to identify the key issues and developments which the Union is likely to face and to analyse how these might be addressed … in order to help the Union anticipate and meet challenges more effectively in the longer term (horizon 2020 – 2030)."

Key challenges the group is to look into include "strengthening and modernising the European model of economic success and social responsibility, enhancing the competitiveness of the EU, the rule of law, sustainable development as a fundamental objective of the European Union, global stability, migration, energy and climate protection, and the fight against global insecurity, international crime and terrorism."

The new European Commission: what's next?

Informal interviews with von der Leyen, hearings with parliamentary committees, and votes in the EU parliament and Council await the 26 candidates.


US billionaires funding EU culture war

Conservative US billionaires, some with links to Trump, are paying anti-abortion lobbyists in Europe tens of millions of dollars to shape policy and law.


The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade

Around 30 members of European Economic Social Committee, who live and work primarily in Brussels or nearby, have claimed €1.47m in a 'daily subsistence' allowance from European taxpayers to cover accommodation, food and local transport for meetings held in Brussels.

News in Brief

  1. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  2. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  3. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  4. Germany takes carbon border tax onboard
  5. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  6. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  7. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  8. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan


These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.


The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  2. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  3. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  4. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  5. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  6. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  7. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  8. A new Commission for the one percent

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us