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'Europe needs shock treatment'

Posted on 02/03/2016

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The European Union needs a new vision and a new type of co-operation between member states if it is to overcome the most difficult crisis it has faced in its history, the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Hon Laura Boldrini said at the King’s Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence 2016 Annual Lecture.

With the title of ‘Greater European Integration: the only way forward’ , Mrs Boldrini said that greater European integration was essential if European Union member states are to succeed in trade, foreign affairs and security and to ensure social inequalities, wage stagnation and a faltering Eurozone economy are avoided.

She suggested a two-speed approach to further integration as one possible solution to European integration, but that moving towards a federal union of Europe with ministers and a realistic budget is essential. ‘We don’t all have to go in the same direction, but we can’t just wait and see,’ she said. ‘Europe needs a shock treatment if it is to overcome its obstacles and in-fighting.’

In the shadow of a possible British exit from the European Union and disagreements over austerity and migrant management, Mrs Boldrini said that no state can succeed alone in a globalised world. ‘We should always be cynical about people who offer quick solutions and catchy slogans,’ she said. ‘No state is an island in our globalised time.’

Referring also to her experience as both a senior member of the Italian parliament and director at the UNHCR, Mrs Boldrini also spoke of the dangers posed by an incoherent European strategy to tackle the migrant crisis. She put forward the argument that if all 28 EU member states had implemented the European Commission’s plan about borders, there would be no refugee crisis. She also warned of the effect this lack of cohesion has for the way Europe is perceived. ‘If Europe does not show the respect for human rights, as enshrined in treaties, it will lose its identity as a moral compass,’ Boldrini said. ‘It will need a lifejacket itself.’

Mrs Boldrini said she was honoured to be invited to talk at King’s on a topic that has resonated with different generations. ‘The topic of my talk may be provocative, but I am not the first pro-EU Italian to lecture at King’s College London,’ referencing a talk by authors of the pro-European Ventotene Manifesto before the Second World War.

Professor Sir Francis Jacobs KCMG QC, ad personam Jean Monnet Chair and President of the Centre of European Law at King’s said: ‘It was a privilege to have Hon Laura Boldrini to deliver the annual lecture of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, designated by the European Commission to support an ambitious programme of research, teaching and outreach. During her passionate lecture delivered to a packed Great Hall, she held the audience with her first-hand experiences.’

The Jean Monnet Centre for Excellence is a joint endeavour at King’s, of the European and International Studies department, the Dickson Poon School of Law and the School of Global Affairs. Each year, the centre invites visionary speakers to give their views on topics relating to the history and future of the European Union.

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