Jerzy Buzek: “The European Union is the solution to the crisis, not its cause” 

Former EP president Jerzy Buzek during the ReAct event in Warsaw  

The EU is expanding its ability to influence the situation in the world, according to Jerzy Buzek. "Several years ago we had to ask the US for help in solving the problems in the Balkans,” the Polish member of the EPP group said. “Today, thanks to our soft power alone, we brought peace to the region. The same thing is happening in our eastern neighbourhood.” The former EP president was speaking at the opening of the ReAct Warsaw event on 14 November, dedicated to the EU’s role abroad.

Mr Buzek also praised the economic opportunities offered by being part of the EU: “The European Union is the solution to the crisis, not its cause.”

Speakers at ReAct Warsaw spoke about how the EU is able to wield more influence beyond its borders. Elżbieta Kaca, an analyst at the Polish International Affairs Institute, discussed how the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood policy was transforming relations with countries in the east.

Grażyna Piotrowska-Oliwa, the former president of the Polish Oil & Gas Company (PGNiG), warned that Europe had fewer energy resources than the US and Russia and that its competitive situation was deteriorating. To improve energy security, the EU would need to negotiate better terms of trade on behalf of all member states.

Adam Bodnar, the vice-president of the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights, highlighted the key role played by the European Parliament in improving current data protection legislation.

ReAct Warsaw is the second in a series of five interactive conferences on subjects vital to the EU, ahead of the European elections in May 2014. They take place in different European cities where opinion leaders will share their ideas about today's issues. The next event about the EU and finance will take place in Frankfurt on 5 December.