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28th Feb 2021

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Towards a truly 'European' Union

  • Unlike most other European Parliament groups, the European Conservatives and Reformists doesn't believe the EU's problems are temporary difficulties, but the consequences of the path this Union has taken

When one hears the ensuing speeches of past and present presidents of the European Commission, one is left with the impression EU policy has been a series of successful triumphs, that the Union is champion of the world and that Europe is flourishing.

It seems only the pandemic, global warming and the activity of 'Eurosceptics' or 'populists' attempting to halt the Union's progress, that do not fall in line with this optimistic, complacent self-portrait.

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  • Zdzisław Krasnodębski MEP: 'We are putting out one fire after another, instead of fixing the root cause of the problems' (Photo: ECR)

It is enough, however, to look around and see how much more detached from reality this image has become. In fact, we Europeans are now constantly confronted with a series of growing, unresolved problems and successive crises, which we handle only on an ad hoc basis.

We are putting out one fire after another, instead of fixing the root cause of the problems.

We did not solve the financial crisis – some countries cannot overcome their chronic economic weaknesses despite some temporary improvement. We did not fix terrorism or radicalisation.

As it stands, social and political polarisation in most countries has grown while separatism is more popular than ever.

Unlike most other political groups, we do not believe these are temporary difficulties, but rather the consequences of the path this Union – and Europe in general – has taken in recent decades.

There is a growing need to reflect Europe's evolution, to break dogmas and to change its current direction. We have to reset the Union.

Today's European Union is no longer the Europe envisioned by Robert Schuman, nor that of Charles de Gaulle, John Paul II or Helmuth Kohl. The Europe of their dreams and principles is today not only extinct, but considered hostile to a public, common philosophy of the Union.

Unfortunately, the Union has still not learned its lesson following the departure of one of its member states.

Instead, the tragic hubris has grown even larger. We hear today that there is but one solution: to move in this same direction even faster, suppressing the voices of the discontent, stigmatising the opposition. The Union is becoming a community increasingly held together by pressure, rather than by dialogue and cooperation.

I am convinced that the political polarisation in many countries and the crisis of social trust and democracy is the result of the gradual weakening of European nations.

In many European countries, the national community in which their democratic institutions were rooted in is in danger of disappearing.

The is largely due to the model of social life promoted and spread by the European Union, the only one it considers acceptable.

This model is open – as wide as possible - based on multicultural societies, extreme individualism and the ideology of free choice, disregarding human nature. Therefore, instead of supporting European nations, the Union – armed with its new ideology – weakens them.

We believe, firstly, that the axiological foundations of the Union must be renewed so that they reflect Europe's heritage.

The European Union has to become truly European, one that does not turn away from its history but instead wants to develop it into a contemporary form.

This heritage is, of course, complex and derived from many sources.

Athens, Rome and Jerusalem

Yet, undeniably, it has three principle foundations, expressed symbolically through the names of its three cities: Athens, Rome and Jerusalem.

Without the legacy of Greek philosophy, Roman law or Christianity, there would be no European civilisation.

It was after all, in the early Middle Ages that Europe took shape as a Christian continent, as a civilisation born out of Latin Christianity. This is why one cannot talk about European culture whilst ignoring its Christian character/origins.

Secondly, the competences of the EU institutions must be clearly defined and their powers remain limited.

It is crucial to break with Jean Monnet's anti-political and anti-democratic method, according to which integration must continue to move forward uncontrollably as a side effect of economic decisions.

More 'Europe', less 'Union'

It is true: we need more Europe, but we need less Union. The Union must cease to expand its competences.

Thirdly, the role of member states must be strengthened. It is a distinctive feature of European civilisation that despite a relatively small geographical area, different collective identities with national languages have developed and established themselves into distinct political units.

The diversity of national cultures is one of Europe's most valuable treasures.

The legitimacy of the European institutions and of their European policies derives from these member states. Member states should therefore remain the 'masters of the treaties'.

At the same time, we need to restore a greater balance between them.

There is no place in Europe for imperial ambitions. More prosperous and populated member states should restrain themselves and revert to a more reserved attitude – for their own good too. The Union can only be preserved once we return to the principles of equality, mutual respect and consensus-based decisions.

Author bio

Professor Zdzisław Krasnodębski MEP is a Polish sociologist and social philosopher, and professor at the University of Bremen. He has been a MEP since 2014, currently serving as the vice-chair of its committee on industry, research and energy. He is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists group and the chairman of its internal institutional reform policy group. He was a vice-president of the European Parliament from 2018 to 2019.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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