The truly convinced Europeans amongst us might very well feel slightly depressed at the agreement that was reached at the European Council in that it was not more ambitious. Those who have not understood that we are talking of a unique Union of countries who want to decide together were probably surprised to see that finally it took until 4am to come to a difficult compromise that could have been drawn up before the meeting; it is however true that this European Council brought with it some really good news.
Europeans wanted to change their institutions to benefit from the transformation which the European Union has experienced growing from six Member States and 180 million inhabitants in 1957 to 27 members and half a billion Europeans in 2007. At the same time they wanted to make Europe more democratic, more transparent, and easier to understand. This was the aim and content of the Constitutional Treaty rejected by the French and Dutch in 2005.
Amidst all of these pitfalls the decision of the Heads of State and government was unhoped for. The main institutional changes already planned for in the Constitution are part of their agreement. It will be easier to decide; the European Union will have a profile and a voice; it will be hindered less by those who do not want to move forwards with the others, those who are attached to populism, nationalism and egotism. Decision will be taken more quickly, more clearly and more democratically since the European Parliament's powers will be greater and national parliaments will be called upon to monitor how the institutions are being run. The concerns of the people have also been taken into consideration.
In spite of the Polish psycho-drama that brings no honour to those who caused it – the "terrible twins" - and which is so out of character with such an important country as Poland – in spite of the usual reserve on the part of the British which never prevents them from taking full benefit of Europe whilst contributing nothing to strengthening it and in spite of other egotism and internal politics, Heads of State and Government, together with a German Chancellor who was decidedly skilled and a French president who understood before everyone else what the necessary steps to take were, helped by Luxembourg Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker gave victory to reason. Let us hope that they will meet with the same inspiration at home, an awareness of the common interest of the people of Europe which does not however substitute national interests, but is complementary to them and defends them better than any of the old means of protection. Let domestic policy give European consensus a chance and not take it hostage.
Now that the existential crisis that we caused can be left behind it is time to move on to new things and draw up new types of co-operation in areas which require urgent attention such as security, defence, population – in terms of both demography and immigration -, economy and energy. We shall need a great deal of courage and determination. We have seen the Franco-German couple in operation – both invigorated and effective. So we have reason to be extremely optimistic!