According to the former European Commission President, Putin’s nationalist and confrontational discourse will not trigger a major conflict between Russia and the West though. “In the long run, Russia needs Europe more than Europe needs Russia. Only in the short run Putin has a tactical advantage because Europe cannot reduce its dependency on Russian gas overnight”, Prodi asserted. “On top of that, Putin is capitalising on Europe not being able to speak with one voice.”
Split in society
So if it’s not Russia’s expansionary foreign policy that will top Europe’s problem agenda for the decades to come, what then? Considering Prodi’s background as one of Europe’s main social-democrat leaders, his answer is rather unsurprising. “When I speak to ceo’s of banks I always ask them whether they will have more or less than half of their current number of employees on the payroll. Their answer is always that it will be less than half.”
Prodi identifies increasing unemployment and rising inequality as Europe’s main challenge. “Almost all technological developments are manpower reducing, especially replacing middle range workers. The result of this is rising inequality and an increasing split in society. ”
Read more about Romano Prodi’s keynote speech and the panel debate on the future of Europe in which he participated in the next issue of the EIE Magazine.