European Leaders debate over EU future in WEF annual meeting in Davos

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-26 07:09:42|Editor: Chengcheng
Video PlayerClose

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- A group of European leaders on Thursday evening showed their both common and divided views on the future of the European Union (EU) at a panel discussion focused on "Europe momentum" during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte noted that the EU makes possible much that cannot be accomplished by individual member states, from negotiating trade deals to ensuring security and controlling migration, but drew the line at "transfer unions", in which richer member states are asked to bankroll poorer peers.

"People are talking about risk-sharing, and transfer unions. I don't like that. We should each do what we should, as nations," the prime minister said.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa echoed and added to Rutte's comments, but did not rule out the possibility of transfer unions.

"To have stability, we need to have rules and discipline, but also the means for other countries to catch up, this is a pillar of stability of the Eurozone," Costa noted.

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar noted that his country has benefited significantly from "something of a transfer union around structural funds," and that after having used it to build up infrastructure, Ireland is now a net contributor.

He stressed the need to extend this approach to help the countries of Central Eastern Europe develop their own infrastructure.

On the implications of an emerging Franco-German axis, Varadkar said, "We can only welcome France and Germany coming together, but do we want to see just the big countries deciding the fate for all of Europe?"

"What do the small countries think, they must ask. Then it can be a really strong engine," he added.

Cecilia Malmstrom, commissioner for trade of the European Commission, noted that the "lack of leadership by the United States," as she described it, has actually provided space for the EU to "show that they can make good trade deals."

Peter Limbourg, director-general of Deutsche Welle of Germany, said that after a frightening downhill run that saw the euro crisis, an immigration crisis and a surge of populist and nationalist movements culminating in Brexit, the European rollercoaster is "heading uphill again" with stability and growth.

"But we don't know where we will land," said Limbourg.

The 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is taking place on Jan. 23-26 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, attracting more than 3,000 leaders from around the world to participate.