2 hands try to connect several pieces of a puzzle.
© Shutterstock / maradon 333

Reflection Group Europe: Looking ahead: The High-level Reflection Group "A Strong and Independent Europe"

The Bertelsmann Stiftung High-Level Reflection Group “A Strong and Independent Europe” seeks to develop convincing answers to the internal and external challenges facing the European Union today. To this end, an international group of politicians, representatives of key European institutions and independent experts meet several times a year to discuss and develop proposals for renewed European policy from the perspective of European public goods.

In recent years, the EU has faced challenges from both within and without. Internally, disintegration tendencies, exemplified by Brexit and migration policy, have strained the cohesiveness of European policy. Externally, a more assertive Russia, a rising China, and a seemingly less reliable transatlantic partner show that the EU must depend more on itself in the multipolar world of today. Despite being the world’s largest internal market and political project, the EU has not always demonstrated this ability to defend the interests of its Member States and citizens both internally and externally. There exists a gap between what the EU ought to do, and what the EU is able to do.

Against the backdrop of this expectation-capability-gap, the Reflection Group “A Strong and Independent Europe” develops the concept of European public goods as a new rationale for European action. As public goods, the concept identifies those policies and policy areas which are to the benefit of all Member States and their citizens. As European public goods, they focus on those policy (areas) where there is genuine European added value that could not be provided at a lower level of government. As such, the concept entails a critical re-reading of EU competences as well as a new narrative for European action.

In 2019, the Reflection Group has laid this conceptual groundwork, discussing the nature of European public goods and how to identify European added value. Building on this critical examination, the Reflection Group seeks to develop concrete policy proposals to invigorate the discussion on and provide solutions for a European Union that safeguards the common interests of its Member States and citizens.