Brussels – Europe can and should be a leader in world affairs, but that would require greater integration, President Borut Pahor said at Thursday’s debate hosted by the Brussels-based political think tank European Policy Centre (EPC), in which panellists discussed the EU’s role in the world, also touching on enlargement and the rule of law.
The Slovenian president was one of the panellists in a debate at the EPC annual conference, in which the panellists first focused on the EU’s role in international relations and facing internal and external challenges.
In Pahor’s view, the focus has shifted from Euro-Atlantic to Transpacific relations, as Europe seems to be moving away from the centre regarding global issues.
But Pahor believes that Europe can and should continue to be a leader in world affairs, seeing greater integration as the main condition for this, which would also make Europe more effective. “We need more Europe, not less,” he said.
The debate also touched on the enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans, with participants agreeing that the EU should demonstrate more credibility and put what it says into practice.
Pahor also believes that the credibility of the EU is at stake, as he advised the leaders of member states and Brussels officials not to underestimate the geopolitical importance of the Western Balkans enlargement process, also calling for a less bureaucratic political approach.
The focus of the debate then shifted to the rule of law and the primacy of EU law – one of the hottest topics in the EU following a recent ruling by the Polish Constitutional Court that went against the primacy principle.
“There is a danger of a new division within the EU between East and West,” warned Pahor, who believes there is no reason for that to happen and pointed to more dialogue as a potential bridge between the two sides.
There seems to be a need in some Central and Eastern European countries to highlight differences in views on shared values by referring to “historical experiences with Soviet occupation or communist regimes”, said Pahor, adding that he opposes such perspectives.
Reiterating his views at the end of the debate, Pahor said that the EU should not wait and see what needs to be done, but do everything in its power to shape the future of the Union.
The president was convinced that it could be done. “In the end, circumstances will force us to do our best and I think we will do our best,” he concluded.