Title of debate : The refoundation of a Europe based on values, anchored in effective democratic institutions and promoting a prosperous economy in a fair and cohesive society
Written statement : Soulsearching about European values has become a prevalent mood because since 2008, certain basic tenets about what the EU stood for, and on which its soft power rested, have been downgraded. Among these was the belief that Europe stood for a social market system that would promote the free market while guaranteeing social rights, in the context of economic stability or growth. Today, when stability or growth are lacking or threatened, in order to reacquire competitivity and growth, under existing structures of European integration, the only way out is to restrain social conditions. There has emerged a contradiction between the social rights that the EU proclaims, and the options available to it to achieve desired outcomes. Indeed, it has become questionable whether the three objectives that are fundamental to the European Union as of now, can be kept all three of them together: free market policies under conditions of increasing globalisation and oligopolisation; an ongoing commitment to further European integration; and a total commitment to safeguard and enhance existing social rights in Europe. Before this dilemma is satisfactorily addressed, a sentiment of angst about the real import of European values will prevail.