A few words on the eve of Europe Day.
”Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity…The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe…”, the French foreign minister Robert Schuman said on 9 May 1950.
The European Coal and Steel Community ceased after 50 years in existence, but the achievements of European integration have been impressive. Enlargement has created an area of 27 member states and about 480 million people.
Today the European Union is much more than a customs union and a common market. The EU has a common currency, the euro, and policies in about thirty different fields, including the beginnings of a common foreign and security policy as well as police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
Each citizen of a member state benefits from his or her EU citizenship. We can choose to have multiple identities: local, regional, linguistic, ethnic, cultural, religious as well as national and European. There is no inherent contradiction.
The principles on which the European Union is founded are more than empty rhetoric.
The Treaty on European Union, Article 6:
The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States.
The Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law.
The Union shall respect the national identities of its Member States.
The Union shall provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies.
Europe Day is a reminder of past achievements, but it should also help us take note that European solidarity needs words and deeds from us, not only towards us.
The biggest EU member states are no larger than former great powers. We need to think about the necessary means to attain internal and external security and enhance prosperity in a rapidly globalising world.