Europe’s strongest assets are its foundations!
The overriding idea is that Union is its strength and that sovereignty, in order to be effective, must rely on cooperation with those who are closest to us. But a great deal is expected of an entity that we easily accuse of being the root of all of our troubles.
The certainties of the last century are now being challenged in every democracy. We have changed era, science and technology are moving forward fast, very fast: globalisation is a fact, and we are preparing for an uncertain future, fumbling our way in the dark. Problems have changed, and the solutions with them. To legitimate questions we have to give clear answers.
Although the “house of Europe” is still strong, its image - its roof - has been truly damaged and it is not looking good. The four the pillars of European integration are under direct attack. The liberalisation at all costs of services and production is being challenged everywhere. For example in Europe, without State-run companies there would already have been a black-out and electricity would be a great deal more expensive. Free trade that has boosted international trade, growth and employment is systematically being questioned because of the temptation to withdraw and this is now affecting all of our societies. Free movement of people, although it clearly helps toward trade, has become the scapegoat and often the cause championed by populism, in response to a significant rise in migration, which is not about to slow down. 250 million people in the world are migrants, 65 million displaced people seek a haven where they can settle. 25 million refugees are fleeing their country. Finally traditional economic policies are being challenged because they are unable to guarantee high growth, and austerity is severely criticised on the basis of historical income figures.
Europe’s “supporting walls” have also been shaken. Solidarity between the Member States, natural or imposed, has been weakened. Europe is dividing under the pressure of egotism, from Brexit to Poland, and not forgetting Hungary. Everyone is working in his own corner, pointing to the borders, which have become the symbol of national withdrawal and sovereignty, whilst these no longer even protect one’s “home, sweet, home”. The security of Europe used to be taken for granted, since it was sheltered by the American umbrella, without any effort having to be made. It is now threatened, from inside by terrorism, and from outside by conflicts that are drawing ever closer, coming from distant lands in which some find it difficult to see how our interests are being challenged.
These six questions have to be answered but the elites are hesitating to do so since this goes against their lax intellect, which has developed because it is fashionable and due to the supposed opinion of the majority. However, it is only by accepting the debate of these issues, in a modern way, that democracies will be able to overcome them. No one is immune, neither the U.S., as demonstrated recently in a rather singular electoral campaign, nor in the emerging, destabilised democracies like Brazil, nor of course in rich and prosperous Europe.
So, there is not much point in “throwing the baby out with the bath water”, by questioning Europe and calling for its “reconstruction”. It would be much better to seek adaptation to new world realities, to reform certain policies, to support Europe with what it provides, to learn from it, in other words, to acknowledge that it was one of the best answers to the requirements of the second half of the 20th century, and to think out our answers for the first half of the 21st century, which we still have not been able to do. We hope that the electoral and political calendars of 2017 in several of the continent’s States will help bring forward new leaders to do this. This is what the citizens of Europe are expecting.