Why are we doing this? Back to the roots!

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June 27, 2016 by apaubxl

The disappointing outcome of the British referendum to leave the EU causes strong disruptions in Europe and opens up new debates about the future of our continent. What astonishes me however most is that in more than 40 years of membership, the feeling of belonging, of being part of a bigger project has obviously not arrived in the hearts of British citizens. This triggers the thought that it might be similar in other Member States of our Union. What we need now, is aside all technical debates on how to better organise the way we work together, how to increase governability, and what needs to be decided at what level, a clear commitment to the basic idea on why we are doing all this.

Dissatisfaction with the European project will always get channelled into an in or out debate as long as it has not arrived in the fundamental believes of the people of Europe that it is a given. All scepticism towards the project should be channelled from a self-destructive and dangerous anti-EU debate into a productive ‘how to organise it better’ debate. But to do so, we first need to get a few things straight (NOTE: my reference point in many cases is the so-called ‘constitution treaty’ which in a much nicer way outlines the core values, objectives and reasons for our common project than its ‘technicalised’ version, the Lisbon treaty):

We built the EU, because we believe “that Europe, reunited after bitter experiences, intends to continue along the path of civilisation, progress and prosperity, for the good of all its inhabitants, including the weakest and most deprived; that it wishes to remain a continent open to culture, learning and social progress; and that it wishes to deepen the democratic and transparent nature of its public life, and to strive for peace, justice and solidarity throughout the world”. We therefore decided that “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

This said, the EU is working towards six core objectives:
1. promote peace, values and well-being of our people;
2. offer an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, and an internal market where competition is free and undistorted;
3. work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment and promote scientific and technological advance;
4. combat social exclusion and discrimination, and promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child;
5. promote economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States while respecting our rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and ensuring that Europe’s cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced;
6. towards the wider world, promote our values and interests and contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the child, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter.

This is what we are and why we are working together “united in diversity”. Our Union is by no means perfect, but we need to be clear that it is our own responsibility to make it better, more democratic, more effective and more goal oriented towards our collective ambitions. Destroying what we have built so far, will be of no help on this path towards a better future for Europe. Let’s go back to the roots of why we have built this Europe, but please let’s not go back to on how we have built it.

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