April 19th 2016

Europe in the world.

Romano Prodi, former Prime Minister of Italy and President of the European Commission

In cooperation with the Federation of Austrian Industries Tyrol and the Consular Corps in Tyrol, the Entrepreneurial School® had the pleasure of welcoming Romano Prodi, former Prime Minister of Italy and President of the European Commission. Prodi, primarily known for his political commitment, has also built an impressive academic career with a doctorate in both law and economy. Numerous students, graduates, staff members, and associates of MCI as well as representatives of the Federation of Austrian Industries Tyrol had come to listen to his profound analysis of the current European crises.

Prodi pointed out that, despite its fascinating and unprecedented development, the European Union has lost momentum: leading in industrial production and export, the EU may still be able to keep pace with the the economic output of the US and China, and yet its global image is gradually declining. Continual enlargement has not only changed the European Union itself, but also the character of its 28 member states. The phase of enthusiastic enlargement has thus given way to wide-spread fear: fear of globalization, fear of immigration, and fear of an economic crisis. Nearly all member states have already been affected by the political crisis. Politicians of all levels ignore whatever lies beyond the next elections. New political groups displace traditional parties. The power relations within the EU have drastically changed. The traditional balance between Germany, France, and the United Kingdom has been disrupted by internal crises in France and the continued discussions about the UK’s possible withdrawal from the European Union. In addition, the current course of globalization poses an unmanageable challenge to Europe, where each state is on its own. Step by step, the solidarity between EU member states is fading.

Prodi is convinced that, in order to resolve the present conflict, EU’s political power must be strengthened. The EU would gain the power to rise to the current challenges only through close cooperation. Prodi thus emphasized the three pillars of the European Union and came down in favor of a European army to enforce a common foreign and safety policy. From Prodi’s point of view, it is absolutely necessary to reinstall the balance between budgets, economy, and taxation systems, to tackle the roots of the refugee crisis, and increase efforts to make peace in Syria and Libya.

MCI Rector Andreas Altmann moderated a lively discussion at the end of Prodi’s inspiring talk.