The European Union and the concept of nation-state(s)
What should the European Union (UE) represent in the world of tomorrow: a complex model, which respects the cultural, religious and ethnic identities, of all the nations within it.
When referring to the new EU members, we can ask ourselves which is the "value added" that bring the new EU members and which is the "added value" that they receive from the EU. If we were to use the famous terms of the contemporary debate, we can ask how the "country brand" changes for each EU member and which could be the "European brand" in a globalized world. But we risk entering the territory of "advertising" and "public relations" policies that have invaded the election campaigns and especially the advertising, transforming them, many times, in a cheap populism.
Many times, we use “the exact language” of the European bureaucracy, a technical and “politically correct” language that emphasizes the upsetting situations without solving the real problems.
This approach cannot help us to manage the serious challenges of the world of tomorrow, with traumatized societies by the obsession of the risks that the European integration and the globalization imply. Traumatized societies are those in which the leaders are unable to explain the mission of the historical projects, or the balance between earnings and costs. The ability of the citizens to support the major projects should not be underestimated. The EU is the most important historical project of the twentieth (XX) century and unique in the history of humanity.
The long way towards the European solidarity must begin within each nation, local community or even family where we can find, sometimes, many of the contradictions that I was describing as the typical global discrepancies between North and South or West and East, but where we can also identify the identity line of a common ethos.
We are talking about a common European identity based on shared values. What are these values that define the European identity? What can they can be overcome without forgetting the specific characters and even the national boundaries, in the way towards a common identity? We can find the answer to these questions within the European projects, but also within the European anxieties. If we continue to imagine projects without considering the inevitable anxieties of a political construction of half a billion people, we have little chances to develop a strong and democratic Europe.
Europe, a major player in a world that is developing very fast, didn’t always know to give its citizens the place that they were intended to hold. Many citizens, most of them young, doubt Europe, the way it was established and the pace of its development. The difficulty of reconciling the aspirations, even the prejudices through this large European project, should deal with concrete issues, both intellectual and practical, because, often behind preconceptions there are real questions and problems that wait for an answer from the present and future policy makers.
These are the questions to which the European makers should answer. We must find ways to confront them without sacrifices: to overcome the past without forgetting it, to increase our linguistic and cultural horizons without forgetting our own language, to get over the geopolitical borders, from the Atlantic to the Urals, without losing our curiosity, or our legitimate pride.
My generation has expanded the Europe, founded by our parents, making the Berlin Wall fall. Now is the time when a new generation has to start to increase the European values up to the level of their aspirations. The new generation could build a new destiny, not only for our countries and for Europe but for the whole world.
With the rapid development of the EU as a predominantly political and economic project, the division between the Euro-enthusiasts and Euro-sceptics is often formal and caused by political, economic, social or emotional considerations without knowing the cultural bases of the project of the European Union so the civilization analysis suffer an undesirable division. Economic and political crises remind us of Robert Schuman's warning in 1963: "Before becoming a military or economic alliance, Europe must be a cultural identity in the fullest sense of the word.”
The structure of the civilization of a united Europe must be examined systematically according to regional patterns: Mediterranean, Black Sea, Baltic and continental, religious structures: Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox as well as linguistic areas: Latin, Anglo-Saxon and Slavic. The summary of these patterns emphasizes the differences between them and the amazing resemblances.
We are summoned to answer two questions. First: what kind of Europe are we building, a Europe of connected civilizations or one where we discover the supremacy of the civilizations? And the second, no less relevant: where are the borders of the civilization of the European Union? Finding a coherent response to these questions is one of the greatest intellectual challenges of the XXI century, because the development of the political, economic and military project of the European Union could not continue for a long time, without a strong, coherent and above all widely accepted cultural pattern. For that I think we have to gone further than the transition from the "clash of civilizations" to the "dialogue of civilizations". It is necessary a "culture of recognition" which is more than a dialogue between cultures that is an inner dialogue and a spiritual therapy by acknowledging the value of the other and our own limits.