A new European Union (EU) is emerging that is ready to adopt a more assertive role as a global economic and geopolitical force for good, the European leaders told participants at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 on Wednesday.
On the panel at the session, European Unity in a Disordered World?, European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde said the Ukraine war has revealed how powerful Europe is collectively.
The war on Ukraine has also revealed weaknesses – including global supply chain vulnerabilities and over-reliance on Russian energy, Lagarde said, but Europe is addressing this and can begin to flex its muscles on the global stage.
“Europe has untapped purchasing power, trading power, technology power, pension power and moral power,” she added.
Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament, reinforced the point. “This is Europe’s moment,” she said. “Europe can become the global project for peace.”
Referring to the EU’s support and defence of Ukraine, she was emphatic: “This is not the time to talk about face-saving for Russia or appeasement.”
Eduard Heger, PM of Slovakia, also on the panel, said: “If Ukraine falls to Russian aggression, Slovakia is next.”
He added, "We must continue to provide military support as well as step up humanitarian aid. “Above all we need to give Ukrainians hope.”
Micheál Martin, Taoiseach of Ireland, said of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “The people of Europe have spoken. Enough is enough.” In response there is much stronger unanimity between member states and more support than ever to accept the accession of new members.
He continued: “We see the EU’s future in terms of the green economy and in terms of the digitalization but also in terms of enlargement.”
The Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on European member states to continue to raise their defence spending.
“The Nato alliance members are inseparable, but Europe must play its part,” he said, adding that this will help transform Europe from a soft power to a hard power.