Originally published on 2013/06/12

The Think Tank DIKTYO-NETWORK organized a public event in Athens at the Onassis Cultural Centre, on May 27, «Europe: towards a common future. North – South: prerequisites for a mutually beneficial co-existence».

Keynote speakers were former Prime Minister of Finland, Paavo Lipponen and Antonio Vitorino, President of Notre Europe and former European Commissioner.  Key issues throughout the discussion were the gulf between North and South, the deep economic and political crisis the European Union is facing, the search for a renewed European vision for European citizens, ways of overcoming the democratic deficit in the EU, bridging inequalities and the need for a “New Social Europe “.

Former Prime Minister of Finland Paavo Lipponen, attributed the effects of the on structural failures of European institutions and appeared optimistic as “seems light at the end of the tunnel” and said: “The differences between North and South is not ideological but structural and institutional. However, the crisis has made it clear that the substantive structural reforms to the European social model is necessary for the European countries. No room for recrimination. All are responsible for the lack of significance to the problems facing the euro”.

The President of Notre Europe, Antonio Vitorino, in his intervention noted: “The crisis has revealed diverging perceptions among Northern and Southern Europeans. Our task is to overcome this division under the moto for the EU: “Unity in diversity.” This unity requires solidarity to a common framework of goals and diversity requires respect for the culture, history and different philosophies of each country. Therefore our priority should be to restore mutual trust at the European level and in member countries. Mutual respect and understanding is the key to social peace and cohesion in societies that face the migration phenomena. ”

In her speech, the president of the NETWORK-DIKTYO Mrs Anna Diamantopoulou called upon democratic forces in Europe to counter the emerging phenomenon of populism and anti-Europeanism by promoting a comprehensive European agenda and noted that: “The crisis is due to the incomplete architecture of EMU and of course the shortsighted and thoughtless government policies borrowing for consumption and not for development and growth”.  Mrs Diamantopoulou documented the benefits Northern countries have gained in contrast to the disastrous impact of austerity policies in the South.  She proposed the establishment of a European Alliance for Development with an Agenda promoting in a parallel and simultaneous fashion: “Reforms, fiscal consolidation and growth”.  She added that implementation may require institutional and political changes; it is important to identify who will lead and express them; accelerator forces may be found both in the South and North.

Featured photo: Diktyo-Network

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