The Europe of the 27 and the future challenges
I have paid great attention to the works of the International conference organized in Budapest by the European Commission to observe the political, economic and social impact of the countries which accessed two years ago. In order to understand the experience of Romania who will become an EU member within three weeks, with two years delay, just imagine the feeling of a driver, who being in a hurry to reach his target, is stopped by the red light. His first feeling is anger. Then, he realized that in the infernal traffic this stop is quite welcomed. It gives him enough time to watch in the rear view mirror the cars behind him, to watch the others next to him and after whipping his windscreen he can see the boulevard in front of him, the cross roads and roundabouts. He has time to listen to the purr of the engine and to regulate the gas consumption. He can even look at the historic and cultural monuments around and he can remember how he gets in that town.
What I meant to say with this allegory? That beside the public policies projects that every country should send to the European Commission, beside the strategies for 2010, 2015, 2020 something more than that is necessary. It is necessary a vision to allow us, in a quickly changing world, to conceive even what today seems unthinkable. Beyond the acquis communautaire and the economic, administrative, social, military projects we must find or rediscover the European ethos.
General George Marshall, father of the economic revitalization plan for Western Europe, stated by the end of the Second World War that maybe the Greek philosophers would have better solutions than contemporary experts. I consider the Weltanschauung concept - by which the German philosophers considered that every age had its own way to see and understand the world - is productive especially if we see it as “Gestalt of a Weltanschauung” where the whole is more than the sum of the parties forming it. This concept corresponds best to what should be the European Union in the world of tomorrow. On this point, let us go back to the acknowledged terms of the contemporary debates, to ask ourselves what is “the added value” new members bring to the EU and what is “the added value” they receive from it, to what changes “the brand of country” of every EU member is subjected to, and which could be the “Europe brand” in a globalized world. Thus we enter the field of advertising and public relations policies that have invaded the electoral campaigns degenerating into cheap populism.
At the opposite site we enter the “conform language” of the technical and “politically correct” European bureaucracy which makes up the unpleasant realities, without solving the real problems.
None of these approaches can help us manage the serious challenges of tomorrow’s world, with a society traumatized by the obsession of risks involved by European integration and globalization. The traumatized societies are those whose leaders are not able to explain either the historical projects mission, or the balance between its benefits and costs. The citizens’ capacity to support important projects must not be underestimated.
The EU is the most important historical project of the 20th century and it is unique in the world history. The 1st of January 2007, the acknowledgement of the Europe of the 27, stencils a historical stage. There are people in the European Union, people that a century and a half ago fought in Revolution of 1848 to free their countries from the Hapsburg, Ottoman and Tsarist empires and to built national states able to modernize themselves and join the prosperous states of the Western Europe. The UE succeeded to stop the inter-European conflicts that caused two world wars and, after the fall of communism to become a strong attraction for the states in the former USSR area of influence. These countries would have otherwise become victims of regional and domestic conflicts frozen under communist dictatorships. People from Central and South Easter Europe have proved an understanding and unthinkable sacrifice capacity and solidarity to be envied.
That is why I believe the long way towards a European solidarity should start from the very heart of every nation, local community or even family where we can often find many of the contradictions we describe as typical to the discrepancies between North and South, East and West, world wide.
We speak about a common European identity founded on shared values. What are these values which define the European identity? How could be passed the national limits towards a common identity? The answer to these questions is in the very heart of the European projects, as well as within the European anxieties and, if we continue to imagine projects without taking into account the inevitable anxieties involved by a political construction of half a billion of inhabitants, we have poor chances to develop a powerful and united democratic Europe.
I do believe in the future of Europe, as I trust the capacity of young Europeans to conceive and to build the Europe of tomorrow. I am so confident in this idea, that I have created an organization „European Generation XXI”, which aims to facilitate the dialogue and to encourage the synergy of young builders of Europe of tomorrow.
My generation is used to refer to European values, bringing into discussion democracy, freedom, citizen’s equality, even getting to use these words without thinking of their substance. What means, in the age of global communication, to make Europe a participative democracy? To head to a practice of frequent public consultations, to include in the current institutional mechanisms the electronic referendum, to conceive an administration not only local or national, but also European, that could reorganize itself in accordance with the new communication ways?
No doubt, we should improve the informational methods; but what are the mental methods that we are today familiar with? Europe, an important actor in a world quickly evolving, has not always known to give its citizens the place they were destined to halt. A lot of citizens, most of them young people, have doubts regarding Europe, regarding the way it is created and its development rhythm. The difficulty to conciliate the aspirations, even prejudices with this huge European project, should be confronted to proper intellectual and practical means, often beyond the preconceived idea, there are real questions and problems, waiting for real answers from our present and future deciders.
For instance, what should we do with the history? The role of history in building up a European specific would be to examine the common features of different national cultures, to create fundamental European events, to propose common memory places in Europe. Of course, for two centuries, Europe’s cornerstone was connected especially to national identities and it is not easy at all to make them integrate as part of the European history. Moreover, even if we can manage it, we risk to slide into Euro-centrism.
Of course, modern world should finance the technical development, as it allows us to live and to progress during the time we live. But what is the future of technical innovation without developing the science fundamentals? The transfer of technology could take place in the absence of a transfer of the abilities necessary to use them and of a system of values to assure a proper usage? The technological development makes pressure upon the human resource. The precocious talents discovery and managing their evolution become a science, which imposes in education and research to create new game fields and new players. What could be the European citizenship without European culture, including the great culture of the past, considered as an enriching culture, opposed to the consumption culture?
These are a few questions that are waiting for responses from the European deciders. We must find the ways to pass through without making sacrifices: to surpass the past without forgetting it, to enlarge our familiar linguistic and cultural horizon without forgetting our roots, to cross over the geopolitical places, from Atlantic to the Urals, without loosing neither our interests, nor our legitimate pride. My generation has enlarged a Europe founded by our parents, making the Berlin Wall to fall down. It is the very moment when a new generation should get thoroughly and amplify Europe’s values to the extent of their aspirations. This new generation could build a new destiny, not only for our countries and for Europe, but also for the entire world.