28th Oct 2021

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.

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  • 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."

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