The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union is an acknowledgement that reminds us what it has achieved on the continent. It is also an appeal to continue and overcome the present crisis.
After the Second World War, the second civilian European conflict which set the planet on fire, Europe was a ruined continent and both victors and the vanquished only had before them an exit from history which would now be written without them. Men of inspiration like Churchill, Schuman, Adenauer, de Gasperi and many others decided to offer their people a different logic from the warring attitude of the past by weaving indissoluble solidarity, the consequences of which have been peace, stability and a return to prosperity.
67 years after the fighting ceased Europe is now the wealthiest continent on the planet and whatever the differences are between peoples and nations, no one even thinks about settling these by force.
Now there are rules, procedures and institutions where those differences are debated - it is true that this sometimes takes time and developments are slow - but the obligation is there to overcome them. It appeared to be an impossible exercise but this example helped overthrow the Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Eastern Communist dictatorships, bringing democracy back to 180 million Europeans. The European example is considered by all of the continents, in Asia where territorial conflict causes tension, in Africa where ethnic disagreement sets the pace for so much strife and in other places where the modernity of the European idea, its use of solidarity and dialogue are often the only counterweights to traditional behaviour founded on power struggles.
This Nobel Prize is well deserved.
It is also an appeal however. Europe has been struck by the world crisis all the harder because it is incomplete. In a bid to respect various national identities it is now hesitating to take the next step forwards, notably to offer its citizens genuine economic and social prospects to emerge from the crisis. Economic, budgetary and fiscal union is self-evident but governments are finding this difficult because it affects the very heart of the States' competences. A European budget worthy of the name, Fiscal Union, a Single Common Economic Policy are the answers to the present crisis. In a way Europeans now face a challenge similar to the one they had to rise to just after the Second World War.
If they want to count in the 21st century, if they want to remain in the global race, they can do it by assuming their dimension as a continent, the only thing that is pertinent today. This is the message sent out by the Nobel Committee which is encouraging them to take that step forward.
The progress achieved since 2007 in terms of the economic governance of the Union is significant but inadequate. There has been a series of effective patches, skilfully applied to the old shell which cannot take anymore. In order to sail on troubled waters in this century we need to make a qualitative leap which a new safe, more unified vessel would offer us, firstly from an economic point of view with the rest following suit.
If Europe takes this route, offering a solution to the crisis, which it can achieve, then the citizens will support it again. This appeal has been sent out to the people and their leaders. Continue and rise to the challenge!