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Christmas message from EPC's Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive

Future of Europe / MESSAGE
Fabian Zuleeg , Janis A. Emmanouilidis

Date: 21/12/2022
Dear partners, members and friends of the EPC,

2022 is coming to an end, having brought, on 24 February, what the EPC immediately identified as a watershed moment in European history. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine continues to threaten the stability and security of our continent, adding to the challenge for many who are struggling to afford energy and food this winter.

But one thing is certain: if it were not for the resistance and incredible sacrifice of Ukrainians, EUrope’s next generations would be living in a far more constrained world, unable to protect European values and interests. Slava Ukraini! EUrope must continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, including through this winter. Given that the invasion of Ukraine was an attack against all liberal democracies, this is our war, even if Ukrainians are shouldering the brunt of Russia’s aggression.

The watershed moment has upended European policy. Much has changed, which would have been impossible one year ago, from the open-door policy towards Ukrainian refugees to the financial and military support for Ukraine, the nine sanction packages against Russia, the many changes in security and energy policy at the national and European level, and the revival of the transatlantic relationship and NATO. The EU acted far more swiftly and was, by and large, united in its reaction to Russia’s invasion.

But there is no time for self-congratulation. We still have not recognised the full consequences of the war in Ukraine, and we are only at the beginning of this new era; much more must be done. Europe’s moment of truth will require many difficult decisions, not least since it is only one component of EUrope’s triple challenge, namely: the watershed, fundamental transformations (sustainability, technology, demography, and economic security) and the permacrisis, which we already identified in 2021. All of this against the backdrop of European political fragmentation and challenges to our democracy and the rule of law, both in EUrope and internationally.

To address this triple challenge, EUrope will have to change fundamentally. We have already called for EUrope to apply an intergenerational mindset and invest in technology, change European decision-making to overcome the ambition-unity dilemma, and provide decisive cross-border energy solidarity. Many more fundamental changes will have to be made: in how we deal with our neighbourhood and enlargement, in making our democracies more defensible, in how we manage volatile global geopolitics and geoeconomics, in our security policies, in economic governance, in energy and industrial policy, and so on.

This is truly EUrope’s moment of truth, and we will have to decide whether we face this triple challenge decisively and, crucially, together. This is likely the last opportunity where EUrope has room to act, but it remains to be seen whether we will remain united and ambitious enough to face this adversity.

At the EPC, we are committed to addressing this historic challenge. We will continue to dedicate our analysis to ensuring that EUrope recognises the importance of this moment and acts accordingly. We celebrated our 25-year jubilee this year, and we believe that the mission of a European think tank must be to provide the long-term analysis and recommendations that are needed to deal with EUrope’s triple challenge.

We would like to thank all our friends, partners, supporters, funders, audiences, influencers, members, and advisers who enable us to provide this vital function; without your support, the work of the EPC would not be possible. Equally, we would like to thank the EPC team that continues to provide the dedication, commitment, effort, and critical thinking needed. We would like to show special gratitude to Herman Van Rompuy, who has recently become Honorary President, handing over his role as EPC President to Professor Brigid Laffan, whom we warmly welcome. Herman has contributed to the EPC in numerous ways over the last seven years, and we are glad we captured his wisdom in a book about turning fear into hope.

It only remains for us to wish you all a restful and joyous festive season, despite the challenges we all face. For 2023, our personal best wishes but also the wish that we collectively find the courage and determination to make the right policy choices, which EUrope needs in this uniquely challenging moment in history.

Fabian Zuleeg
Chief Executive

Janis A. Emmanouilidis 
Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Studies

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