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Patience and virtue

Greece, United Kingdom, Russia ...

More and more challenges are arising for  Europeans, security economic crisis, immigration, growth … 

Used to living conditions that have ceaselessly continued to improve with the assurance of peace, they are now beginning to have doubts, a truly European speciality.

The British are wondering whether they should leave Europe. The Greeks are in dispute with Europe even though they survive only thanks to its assistance. Elsewhere, the elite have given up, leaders of opinion are raising questions. And when Europe is not moving forward, mindsets move backwards. 

We are still awaiting courageous progress from our national leaders to get over the quarrel of legitimacy between precious national identities and the essential efficiency of supranationality. To valorise the European Union

And to do so there is absolutely no need to reinvent everything. In this incredible acceleration of globalisation, we must constantly reform whilst preserving everything we have accomplished so far. European integration is a long-term duty, a vision for the future, a necessary project.

Without patience and European solidarity, Greece would probably have fallen back into the kind of civil wars so much a part of its history. Without the European economy, from which it benefits, the United Kingdom would certainly have seen its currency humiliated once more by a treacherous billionaire.

Without the Community, perpetually accused of stealing away its sovereignty, France with its fiscal adventures would have seen its economy dilapidated and its rank in the world devalued.

Without the European Union, the States of Southern Europe would not have witnessed the development they have seen, admittedly in some cases far too speculative. Without the Union would Central and Eastern Europe have recovered from the abandonment of Yalta and been able to regain its natural place in the heart of the continent?

But all that is not enough, because acquis become habits that erase memory. Pleading what we would have been without Union in Europe is like explaining to Aesop’s grasshopper that winter exists. 

And yet there is a European virtue that cannot be denied: patience. Patience on the outside and patience on the inside.

Patience towards our big neighbours who flee their responsibilities in exacerbated nationalism. Patience with smaller neighbours who are not always aware that the State of law and justice are conditions for development. When faced with fanatics too, who must become secularised if they want to stay in favour with believers.  

Patience with the Greeks who are in great difficulty, abused by a government proclaiming that debt is free of charge. Patience with our neighbours over the channel who seek to find a story as wonderful as their glorious past. Resilience when named as the scapegoat. Criticising the European Union, for a government, is criticising itself. Or criticising the neighbour without any diplomatic consequences … 

Patience is not a virtue of the people, but it is the essential asset in running States. The interweaving of treaties and commitments that the Europeans have made with their partners are just so many guarantees against ideologies or infringements of law and liberties, against those accidents that turn history into tragedy whereas mere common sense is often a way of avoiding it.

So it’s no use constantly condemning Europe and its complexity. Of course we would like to see it more active, stronger and more determined, but if it wasn’t there we would miss it. And it is undergoing reform. After all these adventures, British, Greek or others, it will always guarantee what is essential for its citizens: freedom, democracy and prosperity in solidarity. 

Because its patience is a virtue, a virtue we are cultivating together, which is not always practised individually.