Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Time for a 5th freedom in the EU’s single market? It could help Europe’s universities

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Former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta is pushing for the creation a fifth freedom within the EU’s single market, to optimise Europe’s advantages in research, innovation and education.

Three decades on from the creation of the European Union’s single market former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta says it’s in need of a major shake-up. Letta, who is also a professor of international affairs at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Science Po), has just compiled a report on the single market and its possible future development.

Building on Delors’ vision

“The single market is very 20th century economy-based. It is what you touch, what is tangible,” Professor Letta says. “In reality, even Jacques Delors at the end of his mandate said it would be a necessity to discuss a 5th freedom. So I took this idea of Jacques Delors and I developed it.”

“I give you a very concrete example. We launched some years ago the idea of the European Universities, a consortium of universities; eight, nine, ten universities.

“We have to scale [up] in terms of financing this system and we have to create a system in which university professors, scholars, students and researchers are not going always in the same direction – from east to west and south to north.

Boosting universities and research

Professor Letta believes adding a fifth dimension to the single market would significantly boost Europe’s education and research sectors. “We have to create a circularity, we have to create incentives to help scholars and students to go from Paris and Berlin to the peripherique regions of Europe and to move, to make possible that research in Europe grows up, everywhere but in a connection with these network of European universities.”

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