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No to the "Europe that protects”

The campaign for the European elections looks set to get underway soon.

It is to be feared that the unfortunate slogan of "Europe that protects", which has already been used rather foolishly in a number of past campaigns, will be used again.

First of all, this would imply that Europe is not protecting its Member States and its citizens. What would we have faced alone without it during the health crisis? What weight would each of our countries carry alone in trade negotiations with China? What would the fate of our national currencies be without the euro, given the deficits of some, the burdens of others and the economic difficulties of all?

National governments understood this a long time ago: European solidarity helps them to tackle many new and unprecedented challenges. And so have the citizens, who should not be taken for fools: the Union represents strength; indeed they think so, and instinctively they know so.

This is especially the case since the Member States are no longer able to perform all of their essential functions: Security? It has seriously deteriorated! Prosperity? It is well and truly under threat! Health? It is extremely expensive!  Growth? It is very weak!

And it is our governments who are turning to their partners to try to achieve together what they can no longer do alone, because we are now living in the age of the continent-state.

But the slogan "Europe that protects" is especially open to criticism because it ignores the real challenge that the continent faces.

The question is not about protecting ourselves, which is of course an obvious imperative, but about projecting ourselves in the future – this is the issue to be addressed as a matter of urgency. By sheltering comfortably behind imaginary shields, we have already begun to fall behind the other great powers.

If we are to hit the ground running, it is "the Europe that innovates" that should feature in election manifestos; "the Europe that dares", "the Europe that invests", "the Europe that endeavours", the Europe that believes in the future and prepares for it with enthusiasm.