Editorial to Geostrategic Pulse 234 - The European Union at 60 – a cosmetized anniversary

The European Union at 60 – a cosmetized anniversary
Corneliu PIVARIU

On March 25th, in Rome, the festivity marking this anniversary took place with the signing of the ”Declaration of the leaders of the 27 member states and of the Council of Europe, of the European Parliament and of the European Commission” at the same place where 60 years ago the Treaty consecrating the genesis of the European Union was signed. The shadow of ”White Paper on the Future of Europe – Reflections and Scenarios for the EU at 27 up to 2025”, presented by Jean-Claude Juncker on the 1st of March, 2017 but also of the reunions in different formats preceding this festivity that foreshadowed the scenario of a ”multi-speed Europe” loomed large over the signing of the document. The document was cosmetized in order to be accepted and signed by all European leaders and the syntagm that foreshadowed a multi-speed Europe was replaced by that of different growth rates mainly as a result of the opposition of the leaders of several countries of Eastern Europe, Poland and Greece included, as the prime minister Alexis Tsipras said: ”He who plays with the idea of a eurozone with two speeds, with splits and divisions, is playing with fire”,  yet expressing his hope that the German government ”will not allow the arsonists play with matches in the ammunition depot” (Greece has to refund a 280 billion euro debt to the IMF and the EU – mainly to Germany).

Poland’s announcement the day before the Rome festivity that it will sign the document was the confirmation of a compromise formula being found, but that does not mean the problems the European Union  is confronted with disappeared. The signed Declaration is a document having more a symbolic value trying to mask (for the unsuspecting ones only) the difficulties the EU is facing.

It should be emphasized that the European Union’s most important achievement after two world wars that started in Europe is that a period of peace and prosperity was secured for the European nations during the last 60 years.

It was impossible that creating a common market with more than 500 million people, of the euro and Europe’s prosperity not to raise the interest/uneasiness of other great international players, while solving the internal problems, always delayed by the Union, or the mistakes made determined the deadlock the EU is in presently. The situation is underlined in a suggestive way by the appeal launched on March 24th by one of the most prestigious NGOs in Brussels titled The Awakening and signed by around 80 leading European personalities. Even if it does not come with much too different ideas than those expressed in the Rome 2017 Declaration, the said document characterizes very well the debates concerning the future of Europe as being “confused, undermined by doubt, fear and disappointment”.

The Great Britain anounced officially on March, 29th it triggered Article 50, is the day marking the start of the process which, in maximum two years, will take the country out of the European Union. We recall that a month or so back, Federica Mogherini – Higher Representative of the EU for Foreign and Security Policy, stated emphatically in the USA that the Union is ”still made up of 28 states and we will continue to be 28”. Here already, in Rome, on March 25th, there were 27 states in the Union, not 28. What was the use of repudiating this reality? A proof that the EU’s leaders do not want or pretend they do not want to see the realities they are confronted with. Europe is still at the stage of having essential debates whereby the experts have visions and solutions which the decision makers seem to ignore by taking different decisions.

The European Union looks more and more like an imposing edifice for which efforts are being exerted to be kept in function with repairs made by less skilled constructors. A German friend wondered whether it would not be better that the EU, as it is now, be abolished and be reinvented anew, expressing his doubt that the current leadership could reform themselves from the inside. If 12 years had to pass after the Second World War for signing the Treaty of Rome, what would happen if the EU dissolve? Surely the bureaucracy in Brussels wil not willingly accept such a solution and we are not sure what would be the path to follow. Yet, keeping the current inertia is not beneficial to the EU.

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