What will this Europe of 2024 look like? As I have said, Europe’s unity is the basis of this overhaul. The European Union in 2024 will be brought together on two pillars, in my view. The first represents the values of democracy and the rule of law. They’re nonnegotiable, there can be no cherry-picking. On values, there can be no two-speed Europe. They are the catalyst for our unity and freedom. And in this respect, I want to pay tribute to the ongoing work by the Commission in recent months, and in particular that of Frans Timmermans.
The second pillar is the single market, which is still the best guarantee of our power, prosperity and attractiveness. The work of simplification undertaken over the past three years by the current Commission must be continued and broadened. I’d like us to resume the European debate we initiated before the British vote.
The 28 of us need a simpler, more transparent, less bureaucratic Europe! If the vitality of the law is Europe’s strength, the profusion of standards sparks its rejection. Together with business leaders, NGOs and citizens’ panels, we should gradually review European rules to check they are appropriate, understood, useful.
The single market — simple, effective, protecting — must become, once again, an area of convergence rather than competition. The same goes for its external mirror image, namely trade policy. I hear the ambitions put forward by some, but I say to them: “Careful, I’m ready to follow you, but only if this trade policy is radically updated, radically changed. I don’t want new trade talks with yesterday’s rules, which have led us to the absurd situations we have today on the agreement between Europe and Canada.” We need to have transparent negotiations and we need the trade agreements to be implemented. We need environmental stringency in our trade debates. And we need reciprocity, by creating a European trade prosecutor tasked with verifying adherence to the rules by our competitors and immediately issuing penalties for any unfair practices.