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The EU from 2000 to 2020: Handling the transition

Executive summary Seminar ’How to run the EU in 2020?’ (Brussels, June 10, 2000)



“Without effective administration, i.e. suited to its environment and the demands of its time, the power of politicians is empty and democracy becomes a parody”.

Two years ago Prometheus-Europe made the following general observation:

“As a result of the original involvement of administrations in its founding, the European project and its administrative vector were initially identified with each other. As of 1991 and the debates incurred by ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht, in a Europe whose architecture had been turned upside down by the fall of the Berlin Wall and with an EU project progressively influencing all spheres of society, the European populations gradually learnt to differentiate between the two components: a political project on the one hand and its administrative machinery on the other.

Today, in the eyes of populations, deciders and the media, this differentiation is going through a dramatic phase at a time when the euro is imposing an urgent need to set up a reliable administrative architecture in which public opinion can have confidence. Unfortunately, the machinery built up over the last decades today appears to be an immense and extraordinarily complex patchwork whose efficiency is increasingly called into question by both political authorities and citizens and civil servants themselves. Is this administrative patchwork in the process of turning into a bureaucratic system? This is the question many people are asking.

To sum up, the “EU administrative system” parameter appears to be a determining element in enabling the EU to restore its citizens’ long-term confidence in the EU’s administrative and political apparatus, by offering them proof of an effective and reliable tool serving the political choices that have to be made.

So the confidence of its populations and the efficiency of its administrative tool are necessary conditions for enabling the EU to deal with the three key challenges awaiting it in the course of the next two decades:

. make a success of post-euro Europe (which will dramatically catalyse all the hopes and fears inherent in the EU project from its very beginnings)

. make a success of enlargement (which represents as much an opportunity for integration as a major risk)

. make a success of its democratisation (which is a requirement that needs to be satisfied rapidly with methods still to be invented).

It therefore appears that over and above the classic debates on the EU’s political organisation there now emerges for the present and the near future an essential debate on the organisation, nature and structure of the vast administrative apparatus that is responsible for managing the EU, from the regions up to EU level.”

This general observation has since been proved twice over:

. by the crisis the EU system went through in early 1999 and which ended in the resignation of the European Commission

. by the more recent relaunch from above of the EU project, initiated by European politicians invoking the need for new visions, new methods and the reforging of links between the European project and its citizens.


In April 1999, in response to the observation expounded above, the Anticipation Cell of Prometheus-Europe launched the “How to manage the EU in 2020” Anticipation Process with the support of the European Commission. The project has consisted of 4 seminars held in 4 different European cities on 4 complementary themes :

. “How to manage the EU in 2020?”, Paris (Centre Kleber), April 1999 – In collaboration with the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Conclusion: Identification of 3 central themes:

- reorganise the EU administrative system,

- generate a mobilising European political project,

- anticipate evolutions in the EU’s global geopolitical environment over the next 20 years

. “How to network the EU administration system?”, Bonn (Konrad Adenauer Foundation), October 1999 – In collaboration with the Centre for European Integration Studies (ZEI) and with the support of the Robert Bosch Foundation

Conclusion: A need to move from the EU administrative system’s pyramid functioning to a networking of the various European and national institutions.

. “Towards a Common Democracy: What mobilising political project for the EU in 2000-2010?”, The Hague (Ministry for Foreign Affairs), January 2000 – In collaboration with the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Conclusion: A need to reforge the links between citizens and the European project, to place the concepts of democracy and democratisation at the hub of a new political project and to progress from a static political vision of a “project” to the more dynamic vision of a European political “process”.

. “What global geopolitical environment for the EU over the next 20 years?”, London (IISS), June 2000 – In collaboration with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, with a contribution from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and under the patronage of Mr Javier Solana, General Secretary of the EU Council.

Conclusion: A need to position the EU as a major globalisation actor, founded particularly on the catalysing role of regional integration phenomena.

CLOSING CONFERENCE – Brussels, 10 July 2000

In the course of these 15 months over 150 top-level civil servants and specialists have participated in these seminars in order to contribute to a relaunch of the EU project founded on the constructive criticism of the last 20 years, anticipation of the structural and contextual challenges of the next 20 years and the working out of a series of political and strategic recommendations for the attention of EU deciders.

Each of these seminars produced a summary note (a political document circulated very widely throughout the EU administrations concerned) and a summary report (a detailed report of the content of the debates, accessible on our web site – www.europe2020.org – and circulated first and foremost to participants and directly to the European politicians concerned, i.e. Ministers and Commissioners).

At the outcome of the “How to manage the EU in 2020” Anticipation Process, a Guide to Political and Strategic Recommendations on the re-orientation of the EU project will be officially presented during the Brussels Conference and circulated to 5000 executives in the institutions concerned. In addition it will contribute to the seminar on “How to manage the EU in 2020”, to be held during the New Europe, New Challenges, New Generations congress taking place on 5-7 October 2000 in Paris and organised by Prometheus-Europe as part of the French Presidency of the EU and the European Commission’s Dialogue on Europe.

Today the preparatory stage of the Project Europe 2020 is drawing to an end and two main hubs for development appear:

. an anticipation and prospecting hub (development of the Tool to Assist Decision-Making: consolidation seminars, research, reports etc)

. a training and information hub (formalisation and generalisation of the Anticipation Method: conferences, circulation of work documents, web site etc).

The closing Conference will be an opportunity to:

. officially present the report on each of the 4 anticipation seminars

. officially present the Guide to Political and Strategic Recommendations highlighting a series of practical recommendations (need to move from a pyramid vision of the EU administrative system to a more horizontal vision based on a network form of organisation, need to place the concepts of democracy and democratisation at the heart of the EU project)

. announce the main lines for development of the Europe 2020 Project.

The Closing Conference will last one day; it will bring together around thirty speakers who have participated in the Anticipation Process or followed it closely, in the presence of a hundred or so participants, mainly representatives of EU institutions, member states, civilian societies and the European media.

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