The EU needs to strengthen the basics, Latvian Prime Ministers Krišjānis Kariņš said in the debate on the Future of Europe, on Wednesday.
He suggested four main fields of EU action: completing the Single Market, controlling external borders, undertaking a clever transition towards clean energy and boosting security. “Don’t fight the populists, address the causes of people’s malcontent,” Mr Kariņš said.
Remove existing hurdles
With people worrying about their jobs, the EU needs to sharpen its main tool for job creation - the Single Market. Europe needs to foster “National Champions” by opening up the Single Market, not embarking on a Chinese way of protectionism. “We need to continue to tear down the barriers to the Single Market. This is what will create more jobs and more wealth in Europe,” he said, singling out digital industry and services as the two main fields of action.
Tighten the external borders
To avoid re-erecting internal borders and allow for an unhindered Single Market, the EU needs to shore up its external borders, control migration and make sure people arriving in the EU accept European values. “It is extremely important to maintain our national identities. Arrivals need to adapt themselves,” Mr Kariņš said, suggesting that Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency need to be beefed up further.
Fight climate change
“If we truly want to increase the share of renewable energy in our system, we need to open up markets and deregulate prices. Consumer choice is what can best drive energy transition,” the Latvian PM suggested. “By opening electricity markets to competition and market prices, we can greatly increase the uptake in renewable energy sources and increase energy efficiency.”
Think security, not just in military terms
“My country spends 2% of its GDP on the military. I believe we all should. But we also need to work on strengthening our information defence”, PM Kariņš said, adding that new legislation could help to hold social media platforms to account for allowing disinformation to spread .
Speakers’ interventions are available by clicking on the links below.
Mr Kariņš was the twentieth EU head of state or government to debate the future of Europe with MEPs, the last one in this parliamentary term. Find out more about the previous debates here.