Next week the world will be surfing on waves launched by two consecutive summits — today’s G8 in Huntsville, and this weekend’s G20 in Toronto. The United States is not happy about European dithering over solutions to the economic crises that have rocked its member states, and is none too pleased about the manner in which spending cuts are being implemented. As for emerging countries, Washington insists they should not be concerned by the drive for austerity and regulation.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the EU continues to demonstrate its inability to speak with a single voice and establish a consensus on economic issues. But who is to blame? According to the Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, confidence should be the watchword for any European solution: member states need confidence both in themselves and the EU if they are to restore global confidence in the future of Europe. And to establish confidence, we will need good governance, proper regulation and a real economic project. As Barnier explains there is nothing exceptional in the approach to be adopted to achieve these goals: we need "to learn from the experience of the current crisis, play as a team, and encourage European citizens to consider the big picture."

If we do not succeed on these three points, the Commissioner believes "the EU may not be present at the table of those who govern the world in 30 years time." Fine words, but there is a long road ahead. As a first step, Europe should aim to present a united front at international meetings, but that does not mean that all of Europe has to apply the same policies. As Barnier remarks, "our countries are not all the same, so we cannot hope to impose uniform austerity measures."

Iulia Badea Guéritée