A high-level Reflection Group brings together a group of politicians, representatives of key European institutions and independent experts several times a year to discuss and develop proposals for "new" European policy from the perspective of European public goods.
The European Union (EU) was founded more than 70 years ago as a deeply political project, designed to transform sovereign relations through economic integration. Customs Union, Internal Market, Schengen, and European Monetary Union: all these projects have contributed decisively to deeply integrated societies and markets on our continent. Today, however, many new, urgent and also critical economic and political questions are facing the EU from within and without. Is the EU still capable of providing the answers, of finding solutions, as citizens rightly expect?
Internally, migration policy and Schengen, the rule of law, and Brexit have exemplified disintegration tendencies, while externally, a more assertive Russia, the rise of China, and a less reliable trans-Atlantic partner point towards a more volatile international system in which the EU needs to rely more on itself. Against this background, the EU does not seem fit to project and protect its interests in accordance with its weight as the world’s largest internal market and political project – there is a significant gap between what the EU is doing, or is able to do; and what the EU should to be able to do and citizens rightly expect.
European Public Goods as the guiding principle for European reform and a new European narrative for the 21st century
To bridge this expectation gap, the EU needs new impetus to address internal and external challenges in a coherent way. In this context, the Bertelsmann Stiftung High-level Reflection Group develops concrete reform proposals based on the concept of European public, or common, goods. The concept of European public goods identifies those policy areas in which real European added value is created when they are pursued jointly at the EU level. The concept of European public goods thus allows the EU to concentrate on the essentials and critically to question the current competences of the European Union within the framework of the principle of subsidiarity. This also gives us a new narrative on the role of the EU and its relationship with Member States and citizens in the 21st century.
Where there is European added value, the Reflection Group asks the question of implementation: how can the public good in a given policy area be effectively delivered at EU level? What are the political, constitutional and institutional frameworks that enable the provision of a European public good? Where does an EU public good require sovereignty to be transferred to the EU, but where, conversely, can sovereignty be transferred back to the Member States or where is it sufficient? What mechanisms can ensure policy implementation and the enforcement of shared responsibility and solidarity between the EU and the Member States?