Multi-speed Europe cannot mean a split into the poor and the wealthy

A multi-speed Europe poses a threat to the future of our continent, warned the participants of the plenary session "Multi-speed Union: The Twilight of the Union or a New Charter in European Integration?".

Alexandre Escorcia, Deputy Head of Policy Planning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, explained that President Macron wants Europe to become more effective. It is not supposed to be an exclusive club. A multi-speed Europe cannot entail our continent's division into the poor and the wealthy, into the East and the West. 

"A multi-speed Europe is a true threat. When the peloton gathers speed, it will leave the weaklings behind, which in turn will lead to European disintegration", warned Irene Hahn-Fuhr, director of Heinrich Böll Foundation in Warsaw. "We do not expect a radical change in Germany's foreign policy in the aftermath of the elections. The CDU, the Greens and the FDP support migration policy and the Common Energy Policy. The standpoints of the parties that will form the government are still being discussed. Yet we can already see that for instance the liberals from the FDP are not in favour of President Macron's integration ideas", she added.

According to Adriaan Schout, Clingendael's Coordinator for Europe in the Netherlands, it is the weaker countries who expect a great deal from the EU. Therefore we should consider reforming the weak states, the public institutions, rather than enhance cooperation. We should talk about the weak states and not about European integration. The Netherlands need strong partners. After all, as long as the budgetary deficits in the member states are kept under control, we do not need any external buffers. All we need to do is to observe the rules.

Paweł Świeboda, Deputy Head of the European Political Strategy Centre at the European Commission, believes that we are in the course of redefining Europe at the moment. The notion of a multi-speed Europe has come up every time we faced problems. We need to deepen our cooperation. The EU wants everyone to stay with it and to follow; it does not wish to lose next members; it needs coherence.

Róża Thun, Member of the European Parliament, raised the issue of making the Poles aware that the EU is not ‘them' - it is ‘us'. Poland still has a great deal to do in order to catch up with the West, yet it does not want to access the Eurozone. Meanwhile those who remain outside of the zone have already found themselves on the sidelines. "In my opinion, this is the greatest threat to European integration. Another thing that bothers me is that the governments on the one hand speak of a closer European integration, but on the other think of taking protectionist measures, which deal a blow to the single market", argued Róża Thun.

Jan Zielonka, Professor of European Politics at Oxford University, pointed out that the notion of a multi-speed Europe reappears every time the member states are unable to reach accord in fundamental matters. The idea has not been put into practice so far, because the leader group candidates have not achieved consent so far, either.

According to Professor Zielonka, integration needs to be extended to cities, regions and local authorities. They have the real power to revive European integration when the states delay it.

The knowledge partner of the plenary session was Polityka Insight.


The European Forum for New Ideas is an international business congress attended by prominent representatives of politics, culture, science, and media. It has been organized since 2011 by the Polish Confederation Lewiatan in cooperation with BusinessEurope, the city of Sopot, and Polish and international companies and organizations. The objective of the Forum is to create ideas for a strong Europe and a competitive economy open to trends of social growth and technology. This year's EFNI will be held on 27-29 September in Sopot, and its central theme is: "Globalism, bilateralism, economic patriotism? Challenges for societies and business."

More information: 



Honorary Patronage                          European Parliament

Institutional Partners                       Employers' Group European Economic and Social Committee, European Commission - Representation in Poland, Social Dialogue Council, Polish-Japanese Economic Committee

Strategic Partners                             MetLife, Citi Handlowy

Main partners                                     IKEA, Invest in Pomerania, KPMG, TESCO,  Polish Automotive Employers' Association

Supporting Partners                          Foundation for Polish Science, Ergis Group, the city of Gdańsk, Orange, Siemens,
T-Mobile, Digital Technology Employers Lewiatan, Pomeranian Voivodship Local Government, Google, Family Business Network

Strategic Media Partners                 TVN24 BIS, Gazeta Wyborcza, Grupa

Main Media Partners                         EURACTIV, Forbes, Newsweek, TOK FM

Supporting Media Partners              AMS, Business Insider Polska, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, INNPoland, Parkiet, Publicon, Puls Biznesu, Radio Gdańsk, Radio Zet, tró, Warsaw Business Journal.

Knowledge Partners                          Centre for International Relations, Polityka Insight, Centre for Dialogue and Analysis THINKTANK, Global Compact Poland

Logistics and Technology Partners              BMW, Gdańsk Lecha Wałęsa Airport, Dell

Executive Producer                            IDFX Agency


For additional information please contact:
Milena Malinowska
Phone: +48 512 825 998