Thursday

25th Aug 2016

Opinion

No more hiding behind Bush for Europe

I am thrilled and honoured to be attending the inauguration of the President of the United States of America - a young, charismatic African-American with a message of hope. There has not been a president since John F. Kennedy who has inspired such hope.

"Yes we can" is an attitude urgently needed today. To tackle the challenges facing the world, we have to believe that change for the better is possible. This is true for African-Americans, for Palestinians and Israelis, for Europeans worried about their jobs, for people everywhere. We must overcome the fear and fatalism that have dominated since conservatives won majorities in both the US and the nations of Europe.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Poul Nyrop Rasmussen: Barack Obama offers hope of change to Europe as well, but can a conservative-run EU change with him? (Photo: PES)

With recession looming, along with the threat of mass unemployment, we need to start believing that people working together can improve lives. The same is true for the conflicts in the Middle East and the recent tragic events in Gaza. We must move on from the conservative pessimism that our lives must be ruled by the market. We must engage in global politics in a more positive way than with a world-view dominated by the War on Terror.

It is for that reason that I believe Barack Obama has the chance to make a real difference, of a kind not seen since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The New Deal crafted by Mr Roosevelt delivered the US economy from the grips of the Great Depression and Obama faces a similar task today. All indications so far are that he intends to act fast, decisively and on a big scale. There is a clear determination for the recovery plan to be aimed at Main Street as much as Wall Street, and for there to be tangible improvements in health care, education and job prospects.

Pushing Europe

Mr Obama could also push Europe to pull its weight and implement a similarly ambitious recovery plan. I am sceptical whether the EU's current recovery plan, agreed in December, is enough. More needs to be done and I believe the new American president's plan will make European leaders go further than they have so far. I also believe the Obama administration will move on financial market regulation, here too putting pressure on the EU to deliver effective reform.

His promise to renew American diplomacy, with Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, offers Europe an opportunity to build a new partnership with the US, and the chance of a renewed sense of purpose for the United Nations. Mr Obama will do far more than Mr Bush to encourage dialogue to solve the world's conflicts, starting, I hope, with Israel-Palestine, as this is at the heart of insecurity for the entire region.

Barack Obama replaces oilman and climate sceptic George W. Bush with a commitment to join the fight against climate change. With the EU and US both identifying this as a major global challenge, and sharing the goals of increasing renewable energy and reducing fossil fuel dependency, there is a real opportunity for progress.

Cynics say it will all end in disappointment. I don't agree. Mr Roosevelt wasn't able to do everything he wanted, but his New Deal was hugely influential and he is now acknowledged as one of the country's great presidents. Mr Obama certainly cannot achieve everything, but progress on any of the great global challenges would be a huge step forward.

A conservative-run European Union

For me, the new president poses a test to Europe's ability to deliver. There can be no more hiding behind George W. Bush as an excuse for failure. Europe has an opportunity with Barack Obama. But can a conservative-run European Union seize it? We will find out in the coming months if the European Union is serious about re-launching the global economy, about Middle East peace, about tackling climate change, about the Millennium Development Goals, or if rhetoric matters more than action to EU conservatives.

The election of President Obama, and his diverse new administration, represents hope for many that change for the better is achievable here in Europe too. I believe we can, and we must, rise to that challenge on both sides of the Atlantic.

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen is president of the Party of European Socialists and former prime minister of Denmark

Opinion

A marriage of convenience

The West has nothing to fear from the convenient meeting of the minds between Erdogan and Putin. Both countries are strictly following their strategic national interests, which sometimes clash heavily - as can be seen in Syria.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  2. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  3. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  4. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  5. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  6. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  7. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  8. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  9. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  10. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  11. GoogleA Little Bird Told us to Start Tweeting About Google’s Work Across Europe. Learn More @GoogleBrussels
  12. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?

Latest News

  1. Italy earthquake is test for Renzi
  2. Let's fix EU copyright law, for innovation and creativity online
  3. French government tries to defuse burkini row
  4. EU to Turkey: Do you really want to join?
  5. US slams EU competition policies
  6. French diesel committee 'did not cover up for Renault'
  7. EU backs Greek ex-data chief over criminal charges
  8. EU must step up migrant relocation, say Italy and Greece