Blog Former EC president Barroso calls for unity to defeat global threats

Former EC president Barroso calls for unity to defeat global threats
José Manuel Barroso had a tough and eventful decade as president of the European Commission. During his two terms in the top job, he had to deal with a global financial panic, a protracted sovereign debt crunch and, with Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, the gravest threat to Europe’s security since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“The world is becoming difficult to manage, and…it is obvious that Europe and its citizens can see their interests and values better protected and promoted if we stay together,” the former Portuguese prime minister argued last month.

Barroso, whose tenure at the head of the European Union (EU) executive ended in October 2014, insists that unity is essential, but whether or not his fellow-Europeans will heed his call is uncertain.

Breakaway sentiment is rising in several countries, provoked by economic hardship, fueled by social grievance and formented by a resurgent populism.

In a keynote lunchtime speech at the AIC on March 23, Barroso is going to address the issues facing the EU and explain why cohesion rather than division will make it stronger and better able to tackle the difficulties ahead.

Preventing deflation, boosting and then sustaining economic recovery are not the least of these challenges. At the same time, member states are bound by treaties to maintain a fiscal rigor that could prolong austerity and stifle growth.

Barroso will talk about this dichotomy within the context of the need for structural reforms as well as the actions of the European Central Bank and the likely effectiveness of its recent quantitative easing.

On the following day, he will be joined at the AIC by a distinguished panel of officials and academics from the world’s most powerful developed and emerging countries to debate the health of the global economy.

There is a great deal to discuss. An increasingly robust US contrasts sharply with an anemic Europe, while the once irrepressible vigor enjoyed by emerging markets has wilted with lower commodity prices and slower Chinese economic growth.

And Barroso’s views matter. They are based on long experience at the center of power in Europe, a record of managing both political and economic crises and a crucial role in setting policy agenda.