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SHF2016丨Enrico Letta: The EU Integration and the Asia Community of Common Destiny: Two Paths, the Same Values

Author:  |  Publication Date:2016-06-02

First of all I would like to thank you for the invitation, I am very glad to be here, for me it is a great opportunity. And many reasons brought me here, the first reason is the fact that my University today has a very strong cooperation with Fudan University and I am here to strengthen this cooperation. Another reason of course is how Shanghai is attractive and interesting for all of us. But there is also another big reason: the title of your event today, the community of common destiny in Asia. And for me it is very important to be here in this event in Fudan., one of the best Chinese universities, with the contribution of Korea Foundation, and with one of the greatest in Asia, the president of Indonesia as a main speaker.

The fact that Asia today is thinking and working more and more in sense of community of common destiny is exactly what we did in Europe and what we have to do in Europe despite the challenges and the crisis we are facing today. That is why my speech will try to face and to deal with the problems we are having in Europe today but my conclusion would be on how to interconnect our experience with integration and the great role of Asia in this very period. It is not by chance that the year 2016, the year in which China leads the G20 and in this very days Japan leads the G7. Asia is today the center of the world. As in the last century the western countries were the center of the world, and we would want to cooperate and work together, this is our mission today.

The European integration history is a success. Though there is a growth crisis today, we need to move forward and revive the attractiveness we possessed sixty years ago. Now we have 28 countries in the Union. We have experienced continuous enlargement process that brought from dictatorship and poverty countries like the southern countries from eastern and central Europe. Today, we have 28countries 5 million people. Never again will war break up between us. That was and is today the greatest achievement. In the first picture I put here, you could see the two presidents of France and Germany in the graveyard of the dead. Millions of people lost their lives in this place just to move across border, now this border doesn’t exist. Now it is a land of cooperation. And the second picture shows that, today Europe is working to help and to cooperate even if there are wars, like the tensions last year between Russia and Ukraine. Let the place be a land of freedom. European market is the richest market in the world integrated with our borders. The European integration is the only way to keep European countries important in the world.

Look at the list of the ten most important economic countries in 2050, in this list you will find many Asian countries. There were not so many countries in the same list 2010. Education is very important. And in area for young people, we are here in the kingdom of youth, of students. Erasmus is the great project to help European students and not only European students, 3 million, that is enormous for Europe, have the opportunity to experience this Erasmus project and this mobility for youth and universities. And the single currency is a complement to a single market, though it faces a threat today because of economic crisis.

The European integration reduced poverty. I said that here because China gave a great contribution to the world in this period. So the big values shared by the European integration and the Asian community of common destiny: peace, poverty reduction, prosperity, future of connection and integration, the enlargement of education opportunities for young people. We have to work together on these main issues.

The first challenge is the economy. We are facing the big crisis, the big debt crisis, the raise of debt in Europe and the loss in terms of growth. The second big challenge, the challenge of immigration, you have here the maps of all the routes. The discussion about what is going on in Europe. The Mediterranean, the Latin’s thought of the name “mare nostro” meant to say the Mediterranean is a sea of life, and it has become a sea of dead in the last two or three years. The first big tragedy was in Lampedusa, 2013. I was prime minister in that time and we tried to give dignity to 366 refugees who died in the Mediterranean sea. It was the first tragedy of a long list of tragedies. We cannot accept that the Mediterranean becomes the sea of death. We have to work to make solutions to the immigration problem, a framework of solutions that the EU is engaging in finding out.

We are facing the deepest crisis ever from the Second World War in terms of immigration today. And the third big challenge, the problem of terrorism and radicalization. Because of the terrorism in Europe, European people are worried about their future. That resulted in the rise of populism, Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant parties, which is also our big challenge today. How to convince our people that the future is still a future of integration? And how to convince our people that nationalism is not the answer? Nationalism is not the solution. The big challenge in the month of June, the 23rd, the referendum in the UK will decide whether it will stay or leave. Here you have the two leaders, the former mayor of London leading the leave campaign, and the prime minister of UK leading the remain campaign. Today the last polls are saying that remain is pooling way much more voters against leave, we hope so. We want desperately, strongly, and warmly that UK will stay on board of European integration. It would be decisive for the future of Europe. And it would be decisive for the future of European integration towards the world.

It is a key moment for European history in this very period. So, my conclusion is about nationalism and multilateralism, and the relationship between Europe and Asia is decisive in this very topic, exactly because of the title you chose for this great event. 2016 is a year of big challenges for multilateralism, as the G20 meeting will be held in China. I had the opportunity to attend with the president to the G20 meeting in Russia in 2013, and I am strongly convinced and I am one of those thinking that G20 is a great and important place to strengthen, , it is a way for sharing responsibilities. And China’s leadership within the G20 has the possibility to engine up G20 again as it was at the beginning, to be the place where to find solutions to the common crisis. And the G20 decides more than the G7, because the G7 is only the place where western countries meet.

But western countries are no more the center of the world, G20 is the place where we can meet, we can listen to each other, we can find common solutions on the main issues today. This is why our expectations on the Chinese leadership of G20 this year are so high. China’s responsibility today to lead the G20 and to make the G20 more influent and decisive is so crucial. We have to invent a way to make the G20 central in the world of tomorrow. And about the same time, in this year, UN will find a new Secretary General, after Ban Kim Moon, coming from South Korea with big leadership. Now the choice of a man or a woman will be made, and September will be the moment in which we decide. And the UN is also active on many topics, such as migration, development, and environment. Only communication and collaboration on multilateral level is efficient, when our problems are unavoidable.

The EU and the cooperation in the Asian community is a key factor. We need to cooperate on environmental protection. Environment is the future of our families, of our children. Environment is the place where our children, our families are going to live together in the future. We need to cooperate on combating nationalisms. We need cooperation to work for integration in Asia, in Europe and for integration and common work between Asia and Europe. The environment is exactly the demonstration on how important the cooperation is. This all will due to our children. Their future depends on the choices we make today. 

Thank you.

(This article is edited based on the recording and has not been reviewed by the speaker.)