This summit, similarly to the previous one, has showed that our leaders have no vision of the future Europe. Once again, we have a proof that they do not understand the idea of Europe. Or maybe they do understand but they are afraid of changes? Personally, I am closer to the second option. They just feel a fear of the new – and above all, their voters, too. Change, novelty, innovation have always aroused uncertainty. People don’t like insecurity. The crisis gave us a large dose of uncertainty and fear – so why do we need to give our voters another amount of this insecurity – politicians ask themselves?
One of the basic and vital human needs is the need for security. This is the reason why we try to eliminate or at least minimize risks by creating law and political institutions. And we are getting used to it. Over one hundred years ago the nation states were created. More than one hundred years ago! A lot of time to get used to… anything.
For instance, the same mechanism operates when starting a new job or in any situation when our well-known conditions are changed. It is only natural to fear the new. But, what when this change is better than the current situation? Firstly, you can say „you never know”. Secondly, you need to have a will and power to do so. But avoiding decisions is not the long-term option. And the real problem is that Europe needs a long-term strategy and vision – but politicians are afraid of changes. We are at the crossroads and we have to choose a direction in the end. The world is changing, the citizens’ attitude is changing, political and economic situation is changing. And our leaders are still the same.
Today the EU needs an inspiring vision to provide a clear direction. But there are some threats to the vision made by European politicians with a short-term view. We need to return to a great vision, our leaders need to look back to the roots of Robert Schuman or Jean Monnet. The EU is a permanent project but member states still have the instinct of self-preservation, which is quite normal.
Now, under the pressure of financial crisis every European country is sure of only one thing – that its own interests are more important than any of the common good. In the coming years, the European Union will either begin to fall apart or refer to the pioneering spirit of the founding fathers.
The last summit is evidence of the disappearance of the idea and vision of Europe. Acceptance of the Multiannual Financial Frames in this form has proved it. Now, there are only nation states tending to their own interests. And I emphasize the word „now”. The truth is that it is very difficult to plan ahead without having a strategy, without a vision and without the will. Now we can see the effects of this inability. This is a reason why on 8th February, in the joint statement, the leaders of the four largest political groups in the European Parliament issued the following: „(…) we cannot accept a budget based solely on priorities of the past. We must maintain support for future-oriented policies, strengthening European competitiveness and research”.
Meanwhile, particularism (and nationalism?) is spreading – the financial crisis is an excellent breeding ground for it. But closing in our own backyards will not help. Why? Because today’s problems are not limited to the countries or the nations, they apply to everybody. Pointing to the imperfections in Europe, we tend to compare them with the alleged advantages of nation states. Logical error. This is not the way. European federalism is not naive thinking, despite many such complains. All political projects and processes must be spontaneous – opponents of federalization maintain – only then is it authentic and real. It is not true. Most of the processes that let history run its course are the result of the actions of people who were able to lead others.
The European Union is not able to act with firmness, and if nothing changes, it could mean the end of the EU. We observe an absurd situation, when the EU is gaining more and more competence but simultaneously loses its strength. Member states feel insecure in the European Union structure and at the same time the European impact is getting weaker. Why? I repeat once again, because of the lack of vision and plan of the people who govern the EU.
Where is the source of unwillingness and debility? Maybe this is a problem of the whole generation? European leaders are mostly people who do not know World War II. Peace, development and welfare are their everyday reality. I’m not saying it’s bad. But there is a remarkable contrast between those who started to integrate Europe just after World War II and those who continue this project today. Maybe at the beginning of the European integration, the EEC meant democracy and peace. Nowadays to many people, Europe came to mean money and power. To the founding fathers, European integration was the only chance for peaceful life. The present leaders were born after the war – in terms of specific economic benefits in integrated Europe. It is very hard „to die for” something you already have, isn’t it? That’s why, at this point, we need a plan with leaders who will do it. And not only an economic plan. The real one. Europe is our form of existence and we do not have another one.