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WES 2022: Jose Manuel Barroso on European integration

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

As part of the 21st annual Warwick Economics Summit, Jose Manuel Barroso delivered a riveting keynote address to our virtual audience on 5th February, 2022.

Below, you will find our official Summit Press Release for the event, which summarises the speech's highlights, and is accompanied by a collection of the very best quotes from Jose Manuel Barroso at WES 2022.



Speaking candidly about his illustrious political career, and the critical importance of unity in the European Union, Jose Manuel Barroso addressed the student-run Warwick Economics Summit on 5th February, 2022. Barroso offered an optimistic narrative of a European Union more united than ever - one which, "against all predictions of doom," has been "able to resist all threats of implosion". Despite the ravages of sovereign debt and migrant crises, as well as Brexit: "Greece continues to be a member of the euro"; "freedom of movement in the Schengen area (...) has indeed persisted"; and, crucially, "Brexit has, instead of being a virus for further disintegration, (...) been acting as a vaccine against further exits."

From a structural perspective, Barroso considered both the history of, and most critical challenges facing, European integration. Barroso reminded the audience of the exceptional quality of European peace under the EU, particularly when compared to the rule of conflict observed throughout history - referring for instance to the totalitarian states of 20th century southern Europe, or iron curtain to the east. While this peace can be challenged by growing "polarisation between the centre and the periphery of Europe," and the tide of nationalism and identity crises: an analysis of counterfactuals yields the true importance of the EU for security on and beyond the European continent.

"In a world where large powers are becoming much more assertive, aggressive, or unpredictable: Europeans will only be able to defend their interests if they work together." So said Barroso, when he argued that it is only by enlarging and fostering cohesion in the EU that relative stability and the protection of domestic interests has been achieved. When contending with major power like China or the USA, particularly when counteracting the influence of Russia and its ongoing conflict with Ukraine: without an enlarged and untied EU, Barroso asked: "would we probably be now confronting not one Ukrainian problem, but many, many Ukrainian-type problems?"

More importantly, the ongoing pandemic has offered Barroso further cause to applaud EU integration: "when faced with a crisis, the European Union usually reacts for further steps forward in its integration". For instance, the landmark and unprecedented debt mutualisation - spearheaded by Germany as a direct result of Covid-19 - and the EU's rapid reclamation of its position as the world's biggest exported of vaccines, have both been notable successes. Barroso argued that - although the pandemic has exposed and deepened existing cleavages both within and between EU member states - it has done far more to serve as "another leap in the process of European construction."



  • "The conflict in Ukraine and the Russians' occupation of Crimea, as well as Russian interventions in Georgia, have clearly demonstrated that if most central and eastern European countries had not been integrated in the European Union - or at least in the euro-Atlantic space - the probabilities of much deeper and more dangerous tensions and conflicts on the European continent would be strong and constitute a formidable threat to peace."

  • "We cannot have support for the European Union if the governments of Europe continue, every time that there is a difficulty, to consider the European Union as a foreign power. That's exactly what Brexit has shown. (...) National politicians tend to Europeanise failure and nationalise success, and if that continues to be the trend, we will witness more problems of European legitimacy."

  • "In a world where large powers are becoming more assertive, aggressive or unpredictable, Europeans will only be able to defend their interests if they work together. Quite obviously, even the biggest countries like Germany and France are not in the same league of global influence as the United States or China, for instance. That's why it is indispensable, if they want to defend their interests, to work together."

  • "I believe we are in a process of European political coming-of-age."

  • "The difficulties in translation from the laboratory to the market are innovation, where the European Union is still behind some of its partners or global competitors."

  • "Putin said to me several times, and he publicly said it, that, in principle, he was not against European integration with Ukraine. He is against Ukraine's integration with NATO."


Press release written by Ingrid Bahnemann


You will find the video recording of Jose Manuel Barroso's full talk, delivered at WES 2022, here:



If you, or any organisation which you represent (media, educational, or otherwise) would like a bespoke press release regarding Jose Manuel Barroso's WES 2022 talk - or any of our other 2022 talks - please get in touch with our Press and Communications team at

We are also able to provide full event transcripts, or bespoke collections of quotes from Jose Manuel Barroso's (or any other WES 2022) talk upon request.

Any press release or promotional material issued relating to Jose Manuel Barroso's talk at WES 2022 must explicitly mention Warwick Economics Summit by name. Where this requirement has been upheld, third parties are free to produce and distribute their own press releases at will.


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