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By Constantijn Dolmans
Greece gets billions of Euros in extra. While it has never kept its promises in the past, the political elite in Brussels wants us to believe that the Greek will keep up with their promises in the future. Again, Brussels rewards evil and corrupt behavior. Europe is a complete mess, Europe’s debt crisis is deepening, and European politicians are clearly unable to lead us out of this disaster.
It is hard to remain optimistic about Europe’s future when listening to these sweeping statements day-after-day. Europe seems to be the source of all of today’s problems, not the solution. Europe seems to be the past, not the future. Europe is at best obsolete, at worst an ‘evil empire’ that has to be defeated.
How things can change… After the enlargement of the Union with the Central and Eastern European countries, the end of history was declared. Europe now would live happily ever after, on the edge of the Eurasian continent. The first signs that deviated from this happy fairy tale appeared after the introduction of the Euro. Populist politicians created the idea that the Euro was crammed down the throats of the citizens. Fewer and fewer dared to oppose. During the last European elections, even D66 stated explicitly it did not strive for a European Superstate.
Is this the end of the European Spirit? I am trying to convince myself it’s not. Hasn’t Europe created a stronger economy? Hasn’t the Euro delivered us more prosperity? Don’t we all like to have our holidays in the PIGS-countries around the Mediterranean? With the current economic recession and missing planes and trains due to the strikes last summer, that doesn’t sound very convincing, does it?
But it could even be worse! The Chinese are coming! Or the Indians, or the Brazilians, or…anyone. Certainly, economic and military power is shifting eastwards and Asian countries are becoming important centers for innovation. But with the failure of the Lisbon Strategy, what does Europe have to offer in this respect? Don’t we share values and strive for the same constitutional, civic rights? Aren’t the fundamental values of our European society freedom and equality for everyone? Come on! The essence of the European cynicism is the disbelief in these shared values. We should get realistic.
Since the origin of Western philosophy in Greece (!), the debate has been between Heraclitus and Parmenides, between empiricism and rationalism, between realism and idealism. There should be a balance between the two because with just realism, there are no dreams. And without dreams, ideas cannot flourish and be put in practice.
In 1947, Churchill expressed his dream in the following words: ‘… we must re-create the European family in a regional structure called, …, the United States of Europe’.
I know, he was not intending to join this United States of Europe, but it might just have been because he didn’t yet realize the end of the Great British Empire…
Without pursuing shared values as a goal, from Turkey to the United Kingdom, the world would stay just as it is. Europe, however, has been built on the idea of shared values, an idea that should actively be pursued to become reality. Therefore, the ambition of European leaders, and all of us, should be to revitalize a federal Europe, based on shared values, as an appealing future
Over the last decade, I didn’t dare to express it in public. Today, I would like to share with you my coming out: I am truly a European federalist!
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Dit artikel verscheen in idee nr. 6 2011: The rule of law
en is te vinden bij het onderwerp Europese Unie.