Open letter to
Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker
President European Commission
Ref: Europe needs a Fourth Way with equal opportunities for all
Portugal is my place of birth, but I consider Europe to be my Home. I love our civilization, our cities, our landscapes, and, above all, our values.
We exported our civilization overseas and I feel proud of seeing our values flourish in distant
places, all over the globe. The Declaration of Independence of the US, for example, is a masterpiece which
pays tribute to John Locke, one of the best thinkers born in our continent.
‹‹We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed
by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness››.
I am also fond of the EU vision of a free and peaceful continent, but I’m afraid that this grandiose objective is menaced. Europeans, today, feel insecure, unrepresented, and have less liberty and little opportunities for pursuing their dreams.
This is the reason why there is a rampant populism in the EU, obviously praying on these feelings; a populism and demagoguery that threatens democracy.
Brexit was a clear sign of discontentment. The same discontentment which was also brewing in the US and that culminated with the election of Mr. Donald Trump. An election that has been interpreted as a revolt of the people against the establishment. These events should force us to reflect.
Globalization generated wealth and profits for multinationals which became powerful mammoths, while the middle classes were squeezed to the point of rupture and, of course, revolt.
The Third Way, of Clinton, Blair and Schroder, so well captured by Anthony Giddens in “The Third Way”, held a promise that, while creating wealth, globalization would ultimately strengthen our social infrastructures and help preserve fundamental social values. Community, Opportunity, Responsibility, and Accountability (CORA - the acronym used by Giddens). Unfortunately, this promise was unmet.
Today, there is less communal cohesion, less opportunities for most people, and responsibility
and accountability have not flourished either. People, therefore, feel cheated and frustrated.
Third Way politics contributed to putting global companies “on steroids”, while “anesthetizing” local entrepreneurship, through hyperregulation, hipertaxation and lack of funding. It’s little wonder, then, that people turned to populists that promised “change”.
The correction shift that is necessary has such a magnitude that it’s time for a Fourth Way. A Fourth Way that addresses imbalances occurring in the globalization process, but, at the same time, remove constraints imposed on local and national business ventures and initiatives.
Even the champions of globalization acknowledge that corrections are necessary, but this weights only on one side of the scale. To obtain a healthy equilibrium, the other side of the scale must include reforms to liberate the local economic potential.
Egalitarianism, an important goal of the Third Way political agenda, shouldn’t apply only to redistribution, but also to opportunities, and this must, indeed, be at the centre of a Fourth Way.
This new approach is fundamental to lift the income of the working classes and bring about the real change that is necessary to preserve our cherished democracy.
Europe can truly be a home for all.
Joaquim Couto, MD MBA