On 10 November, the European Leadership Programme (ELP) Fellows met with Sylvie Goulard, vice-president of the National Bank of France and the former French minister of defence as well as former Member of the European Parliament (MEP). During the one and one-half hour-long discussion she shared her personal experiences from her time in politics and leadership during which the Fellows also had the opportunity to engage in a thought-provoking discussion with the politician.
Sylvie Goulard emphasised the original motivation of European integration was to prevent revanchism and polarization by encouraging friendship among Europeans. This aim is unchanged even today, and that spirit urges us all to strengthen the relationships across Europe.
The more platforms for integration we provide, the stronger the relations we will have in the economic, social and political sense. Goulard discussed how European defence cannot be viewed in purely national terms, but with respect to contemporary security issues there are externalities and spill over. She also explained how security can be proactive, by giving education and financial support to war-riddled regions in order to prevent blowback.
Goulard then moved the topic of discussion toward a real leadership challenge which can occur on any level: perceived alienation. This is an ongoing issue for EU bodies which, as polls indicate, lack connections and public trust with the everyday citizens. Goulard stressed that while life is inherently unpredictable, we must trust in God. However, we should also in turn trust each other more in Europe. Building solidarity is crucial to and get Europeans connected and dependent on one another on the individual level. This is how European solidarity can be made resilient.
The former MEP encouraged the Fellows to approach obstacles with courage and fortitude. Based on her personal experience, Goulard spoke about how important it is to persistently work to break stereotypes and to be proactive: without resolve no goal can be achieved. She also underlined that leaders do not necessarily subordinate their principles to popularity or the contemporary social milieu. Lastly, as a European, she emphasised the importance of the European values: equality, liberty, democracy and rule of law. These founding principles will guide us in tackling the various complex questions regarding our sovereign and united future. It is for these reasons that Ms Goulard is optimistic regarding the future of Europe.
Visit the ELP website here