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We need a SWOT Europe thinking

Back on Track with Verena Ringler

7. November 2019
Magazine > Voices > We need a SWOT Europe thinking

Join us for a train ride with Verena Ringler, director of European Commons and curator of the Tipping Point Talks 2019. She helps prepare the ground for the next EU and proposes to do things differently to do different things. In the sixth episode she explains why we need a SWOT Europe thinking.

“Recently I worked with a group of CEOs wanting to support the European project. I asked them to sketch a SWOT Europe with me, where the S stands for strength, the W for weaknesses, the O for opportunities and the T for threats. Guess what? Four out of five associations were negative: bureaucracy, disunity, poor team play, lack of strategy on China, Russia, Africa. Why is it that the most ambitious, civilizational, peaceful project of governance of our time meets so much negativity in our minds? With this question in mind, I went to contact my former diplomat friends from our Kosovo time. And they told me: Look, a good day in Brussels is a day where out of 47 policy items, we find consensus on 44. Problem is, the three items on which we haven’t found consensus are what’s in the news the next day. I went down to the journalists and I said: How can you ignore the 44 items on which we found consensus? And they say: Cooperation doesn’t make headlines. He or she who divides is more interesting than he or she who unites. I went down to consult a book: “Jean Monnet – The First Statesman of Interdependence” by François Duchêne. Jean Monnet, the heir of a cognac enterprise in France, in the summer of 1945, in the shambles of World War II, decided to see European integration as an opportunity and the coal and steel industry as our strength. He set out to turn our engine of war in Europe into an engine of peace. He brought the French coal and steel makers in one room with the German arch enemies, coal and steel makers. They would speak and come together for another five years until in 1950 the Schuman-Plan was presented. And that officially kicked off European integration. Hang on… Had Jean Monnet only thought of the threats and the risks, there would be no EU today. So finally, I went to ask the psychologists: How come we associate so many negative things with European unity? And they tell me: solutions thinking, opportunities management is not something that people do when they wake up in the morning. This has to be socially encouraged and individually practised. It has to be trained, habitually trained, just like when you learn a new musical instrument or a new sport. So what we need is the morning routine of 500 million Europeans to think about the first and third letter of SWOT Europe. The strengths and the opportunities. We need a SWOT Europe thinking.”

This text and video is published under the Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. The name of the author/rights holder should be mentioned as followed. Author: Jovana Trifunovic and Igor Bararon / erstestiftung.org. Cover picture © Benjavisa / istockphoto.com


Back on Track

As our world is facing major geopolitical shifts and challenges, from the rise of nationalism to increased demands for privacy, from balancing growing human needs with environmental limits, there is undoubtedly space for major improvements. We see civil society as the key driving force in this process and have therefore launched the video series Back on Track about social engagement and activism as a clear sign of support to the dedicated change makers in our societies. We need a SWOT Europe thinking is the sixth episode of the second season of Back on Track.