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« A united Europe was not achieved and we had war »

(Robert Schuman - 9th May 1950)

Just a few months ago justifying Europe with peace might have brought a smile to the lips of some.

This quote, the fourth sentence in the Schuman Declaration, which changed the course of European history calls for thought in the light of the present strategic context.

European integration has given us 70 years of peace on a continent that had been incapable of it for centuries. With its imperfections, by trial and error, it has enabled the reconstruction of a Europe that was ravaged and ruined after the Second World War. However it continues to lead in terms of world performances having succeeded in combining the economy, social aspects, healthcare and equality.

But the unification of Europe is incomplete, whilst war has returned as a familiar problem. Of course we are not at war! But unfortunately we are going to be increasingly ever closer to it.

We turn to Ukraine, which is indeed at war and in which nearly 6000 victims have died in a battle that is just a year old; we think of the external intervention in Africa and the Near East where European soldiers are fighting; and of course we think of the attacks committed recently in Europe in Belgium, France and Denmark. Europeans face serious threats once more, confronted with the logic of war that they quite rightly and most reasonably want to avoid. To strengthen their internal security, to guarantee their nearest or furthest borders, all of the leaders are demanding greater European cooperation and the pooling of our dispersed means.

But it is often the same leaders who endanger their own countries as they refuse to pool these means progressively with the excuse of old nationalist reflexes. Those who have spent their time categorically refusing the European project because of just a few, admittedly real imperfections and now continue to criticize it as a whole, without discernment or objectivity, are the ones who are really responsible for Europe’s weaknesses and for that of each of our States. International instability is spreading, uncertainty is increasing, conflicts are now on our borders, but we are still fighting between ourselves about fishing quotas, the delivery of visas and good financial practice!

«You didn’t want Europe, you’ve got war, just next door! »

Is it possible for Europe’s elites to understand that if we bury our heads in the sand we might be leading the continent towards the worst? And that it is their duty to accelerate European cooperation in all areas, or even in just a few? Is it hard for them to understand that public opinion - which they wrongly believe to be distanced from Europe - is waiting, restless and worried? Is it possible for them to assume their responsibilities and revive European integration before it is too late?

Destroying Europe from within means weakening it on the outside! The Eurosceptics, with their constant doubts and criticism, which has become a national sport in some countries challenged by increasingly tenuous political debates, are the ones who are endangering Europe. Let this be a warning to the cynics, the demagogues, extremists, and radicals of all types: stop attacking and cutting into the branch on which we are sitting!

There are plenty of ways to encourage actively the return of confidence in Europe, a condition of its power: economy, immigration, security, defence...

To those who might still smile at this appeal, we might advise them to go and see for themselves in the East of Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq, to Northern Mali, Nigeria or Cameroon - destinations that are not really that far from our doorstep.

To those who might be searching, in good faith, for real ways to revive Europe we might advise them to do away with all of the minor day-to-day obstacles that are holding up sound agreements over economic governance, justice and security. Or they should model themselves on the Franco-German, late but praiseworthy, inadequate but vital initiative in Ukraine.

To anticipate the worst - the collapse of a country or war - we have to act as if it is a possibility in order to avoid it happening. Turning to much to the past - that is what our predecessors often did…

It was often for the worst.