The Future of Europe – what’s next?

Posted on March 2, 2017

The European Commission presented on 1st March its White Paper on the future of Europe, which provides reflections and scenarios on how the EU27 could evolve by 2025, from the impact of new technologies on society and jobs, to globalisation, security and the rise of populism. The document presents the choice we face, through five scenarios covering a wide range of possibilities, being the starting point for each of them that the 27 Member States move forward together as a Union:

  • Scenario 1: Carrying On – The EU27 focuses on implementing, upgrading and delivering its positive reform agenda in the spirit of the Commission’s New Start for Europe from 2014 and of the Bratislava Declaration agreed by all 27 Member States in 2016. Those priorities are regularly updated, problems are tackled as they arise and new legislation is rolled out accordingly.
  • Scenario 2: Nothing but the Single Market – The EU27 is gradually re-centered on the single market as the 27 Member States are not able to find common ground on an increasing number of policy areas, which could mean that crossing borders for business or tourism becomes difficult due to regular checks, and finding a job abroad is harder, and those falling ill abroad face expensive medical bills.
  • Scenario 3: Those Who Want More Do More – The EU27 proceeds as today but allows willing Member States to do more together in specific areas such as defense, internal security or social matters.
  • Scenario 4: Doing Less More Efficiently – The EU27 focuses on delivering more and faster in selected policy areas, while doing less where it is perceived not to have an added value.
  • Scenario 5: Doing Much More Together – Member States decide to share more power, resources and decision-making across the board. As a result, cooperation between all Member States goes further than ever before in all domains. Similarly, the euro area is strengthened with the clear understanding that whatever is beneficial for countries sharing the common currency is also beneficial for all. Decisions are agreed faster at European level and are rapidly enforced.

To encourage the debate on the future of the EU27 Union, the European Commission, together with the European Parliament and interested Member States, will host a series of ‘Future of Europe Debates’ across Europe’s cities and regions, and will come up with a series of reflection papers that will offer different ideas, proposals, options or scenarios for Europe by 2025 without presenting definitive decisions at this stage.

“As we mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, it is time for a united Europe of 27 to shape a vision for its future. It’s time for leadership, unity and common resolve. The Commission’s White Paper presents a series of different paths this united EU at 27 could choose to follow. It is the start of the process, not the end.”, Jean-Claude Juncker

From a nursing perspective, it is crucial to understand that even if the Member States have an extensive freedom in organising their future, namely as regards health and social care systems, it is key that national and European policy-makers acknowledge the importance of investing in health, with a more efficient health and social care funding allocation, better working conditions for the nursing workforce, especially frontline, building on existing integrated care ecosystems throughout the EU. We have tools and the champions in the fields to make change happen. The EU27 should take all this into account when planning their health and social care policies as this is the way that they will achieve the objectives that were set out on a European level.

On 25 March, Heads of State or Government will come together in Rome to mark the 60th Anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Rome, which set the foundations for the European Union we know today.