February 13, 2018
Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament
Delivering the address for SAIS Europe's 63rd anniversary celebration, President Antonio Tajani outlined the steps needed to support the future of the European Union, emphasizing labor force investments toward full employment, strengthening the agricultural sector, countering terrorism, and managing immigration.
Although Europe is already a leader in many industries, Tajani said, it must capitalize on its cultural heritage to produce jobs in sectors that offer sustainable employment, particularly for the young. He proposed to expand apprenticeship and training programs while strengthening coordination between industries, universities, and training centers to provide workers with skill sets based on demand.
Successfully handling immigration flows from Africa will be a challenge, Tajani said. Dramatic population growth, conflict, and famine could potentially drive large scale migration to Europe. To address this, Tajani called for a “New Marshall Plan,” earmarking 40 billion euros for investment in Africa as a means of stopping the crisis before it gets out of control.
Speaking to the difficulties of the UK's departure from the EU, Tajani called Brexit a "mistake of global import” that will make all of the European Parliament's work more difficult. This development in combination with unpredictable short-term relations with the US means it is necessary for the EU to increase investment in military capability, he said. This call for increased independence does not mean a cooling of relations between the US, UK, and EU, he clarified, but rather a recognition that the EU must be prepared to handle crises without foreign support while simultaneously encouraging and expanding cooperation.