Tuesday 24 November 2009

Key word of European integration: Solidarity

If asked about the key word of European integration and the European Union, my answer is “solidarity”.

I don’t employ it as a term of social policy, or limit it to aid between richer and poorer member states or regions, or call for help in the face of terrorist attacks or natural or man-made disasters, or ask for mutual assistance in case of armed aggression, although they are all part of it.

Solidarity is in one word the main theme of the integration process, from the “de facto solidarity” of the 9 May 1950 Schuman declaration and the “real solidarity” evoked in the 18 April 1951 Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, to the “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe” echoed in all the treaty versions since the 25 Mars 1957 Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community.

Solidarity is essentially about the peoples of Europe growing closer, in all their diversity, realising that they share a common destiny.

For this to happen, at some stage the leaders of the EU member states have to step back and let the citizens of the European Union take over, by electing their own leaders and by setting the course for government. National politicians with suitable skills can aspire to European level offices.

That day “intergovernmentalism”, “double legitimacy” and “supranationalism” become history, replaced by European level democracy and federation.

It is not the end of our languages, cultures and traditions, or even of our states, although their claim to “sovereignty” is replaced by a more adequate description of their powers.

In a democratic federation certain powers are exercised at federal level. The exact division of labour can take different forms, but the main purposes of the United States of America and the US Constitution were succinctly put by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist, number XXIII:

“The necessity of a Constitution, at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the preservation of the Union is the point at the examination of which we are now arrived.

The principal purposes to be answered by the union are these – the common defense of the members; the preservation of the public peace, as well against internal convulsions as external attacks; the regulation of commerce with other nations and between the States; the superintendence of our intercourse, political and commercial, with foreign countries.”

I think that the 21st century citizens of Europe would be as mature in steering their representative democracy as the 18th century Americans were in building theirs.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Do you find EUSSR myths fascinating? Are we EU citizens worth a better European Union? Read some or all of the 481 Euroblogs aggregated on multilingual Bloggingportal.eu. On most of the blogs you can comment and discuss our common European future.

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