On this episode of World Dialog, I used to be delighted to talk to José Manuel Barroso.
For a decade from 2004, Mr Barroso was President of the European Commission. On this position, he labored with the then-Vice President, now President-Elect, Joe Biden and likewise helped oversee one in every of Europe”s financial recoveries following the financial crisis beginning in 2008. One other restoration is much-needed now within the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a topic we mentioned. We mentioned all of those points plus his new position, to be assumed in January 2021.
Joe Biden’s election as US President
I started by asking Mr Barroso about his response when he heard that Joe Biden had crushed Republican incumbent Donald Trump:
“Sure, I used to be delighted that he gained the election. I imagine we will work with Joe Biden very nicely by way of convergence between Europe and the US of America.
“And so I believe (like) most European folks, we have been welcoming the information of Joe Biden’s election. I believe with some exceptions – in all probability some populist leaders – at the least the present leaders of the European Union have been delighted to study Joe Biden within the election.”
I requested Mr Barroso for his sense of the incoming president’s beliefs after working with him extensively as President of the Fee when Biden was Barack Obama‘s deputy; he responded that Mr Biden was a secure pair of palms:
“It is somebody additionally who believes within the significance of American-European cooperation, not solely with the European Union however NATO. So I believe we now have the idea to make some progress on this relationship. I believe it is not going to be precisely like earlier than, as a result of the world has modified. Nevertheless it’s good to know that we’ve got somebody we all know and somebody we like main the US of America.”
I assumed the purpose that he made concerning the world having modified was an attention-grabbing one; as I spoke to him, extra tariffs on US items had been launched and the European Fee is continuous to look into antitrust competition laws. I requested him if it was a reminder that, though Europe and America are allies in a broader sense, they’re additionally opponents. He agreed, however stated competitors was honest sufficient and was a separate difficulty:
“(Inside) Europe additionally, let’s be sincere, there may be competitors between the completely different governments and completely different international locations. Competitors is OK.
“The purpose is about being allies in vital points like defence and likewise to be companions in lots of issues and to have general, a convergence of views. And actually, principally, Europeans and the Individuals share the identical values. And I believe that is extremely vital on this very unpredictable world of right now.
“So what we want is, after all, a framework for this cooperation despite what most individuals suppose. The truth is that the European Union-United States relationship continues to be the primary on the earth in financial phrases should you take a look at the quantity of commerce and likewise the funding on each side. So it is a vital relationship and we must always do extra to develop it.”
Brexit and Biden
This introduced the dialog to Brexit; Manfred Weber said this week that he thinks Joe Biden’s US election victory strengthens the EU’s hand in terms of negotiations with the UK on this future commerce deal. I requested Mr Barroso if he agreed:
“I believe that even earlier than Joe Biden’s election, we have been (getting) nearer to an settlement and I hope there shall be an settlement.
“I believe it is going to actually be a disgrace and nearly absurd now to to not have an settlement and to have tariffs or quotas between the European Union and the UK. I believe we’re very near an settlement.
“I believe the UK was able to compromise even earlier than (the US Presidential) election. It is true that President-Elect Biden has a really robust reference to Eire and in a manner that’s, after all (a connection) with the European Union.
“That was one of many the reason why we additionally have been so delighted together with his election. Having stated that, I do not suppose that is going to be a decisive issue for an settlement to come back – hopefully – between the UK and the European Union.”
The EU’s COVID-19 response
Turning to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, I requested Mr Barroso if he thought maybe the EU had really labored higher throughout the disaster in formulating an financial restoration plan than it had throughout his time as President of the Fee; at the moment, it had actually struggled to agree on one within the wake of the monetary disaster?
“Look, the response now wouldn’t have been attainable with out the work carried out earlier than. Let’s not neglect the place we have been at the moment. At the moment, most individuals have been predicting Greece to depart the Euro. Many individuals, together with within the markets, have been predicting the tip of the Euro. We’ve got saved the Euro.
“And at the moment, we broke a number of taboos. As an example, at the moment, a lot of our member states didn’t settle for the very (precept) of bailout, of supporting the weaker international locations. And now they’ve understood that in a union just like the European Union we should be collectively. And so, sure, now this time it was attainable to go additional and be faster.
“However as a result of there was the expertise of the final disaster and likewise as a result of now we’ve got devices that at the moment we needed to create from scratch – for example the European Stability Mechanism that didn’t exist at the moment. And so now folks felt comfy in doing extra. And naturally, this is excellent information.”
“By the way in which, I believe nonetheless extra needs to be carried out. However the response, I believe, has been a really convincing response that was acquired by some folks with some shock – frankly, not by me, as a result of I do know that the European Union (operates) step-by-step. Typically, particularly in occasions of disaster, there are massive steps and that is precisely what occurred this time. And I believe from that viewpoint, we could also be constructive about developments we see right now within the European Union.”
At this level, we moved onto one in every of his new upcoming roles; in 2021, he’ll assume the chairmanship of Gavi, the worldwide vaccine organisation bringing collectively private and non-private sectors to create equal entry to new and underused vaccines for youngsters dwelling on the earth’s poorest international locations. Given the present pandemic, I requested him about his response to Pfizer’s announcement that assessments demonstrated that its COVID-19 vaccine is efficient in 90% of instances.
“I want to not remark extra particularly (for now), however actually I can say that we’ve got all acquired this information very positively. As you understand, we’ve got to attend for the emergency use authorisation. And we all know that this vaccine – and presumably different vaccines which were developed – are a really robust response to the present pandemic.
“And it is so critically vital from a public well being viewpoint, but additionally from an financial and social viewpoint. So principally, it is extraordinarily excellent news, very hopeful information, that we’ve got simply acquired.”