Creating Europeans

Recently I have read an interesting interview that I would like to share with you. This is an interview with the Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Radosław Sikorski, by six European newspapers in collaboration (El Pais, The Guardian, La Stampa, Le Monde, Süddeutsche and Gazeta).

The title is quite good: “We have a Europe, now we have to create Europeans”. In my opinion, it contains some proposals for the future of the EU which I consider useful, so I will try to summarize them below and translate the Spanish version of his statements (the only one that I have) in italics:

– On the issues in which we have transferred sovereignty, when we respect the rules, the results are good.

The EU should be more effective as far as foreign policy is concerned. We announce a series of strategies, and then some of the Member States carried out with other partners own policy. But where we act together, the results are good for everyone. Just look at trade issues in which we have transferred sovereignty and competitiveness, or the common market, in which the European Commission has strong competencies.

– Politicians must have the same speech in Brussels and in their countries.

If people believe that without Europe they would live better, that is partly because of the media, which are increasingly sensationalist and explain becoming less the complex processes, and partly the fault of EU politicians: in Brussels they behave in a responsible way, they are able to make European decisions truly thinking about the common good, but when they return to their country, they speak with citizens solely on the basis of national interests.

(I definitely agree. And we could add: on the basis of their personal interest ahead of the next election).

– It is necessary to increase the participation of citizens in EU affairs and in elections to the Parliament.

It is a paradox. When, 20 years ago, Parliament had nothing to say in the EU, people went to the polls. Today, when it plays an important role in the approval of budgets, people vote much less. We believe that the interest in the election would be higher if it were more personalized, if it were introduced Europeans general lists of candidates, with a general election to President, if the Parliament had a greater influence on the composition of the European Commission.

– European identity is dynamic. You can not impose it, it is built with dialogue and debate.

(R.S. answering some Eurosceptics voices). President Klaus (Czech Republic) and other Eurosceptics make a good diagnosis: there are no European “demos” (people) yet. But they are wrong to consider a static situation. I remember the famous statement by the Italian politician Massimo D’Azeglio after the unification of Italy in 1861: “We have Italy, now we have to create Italians.” This shows that some national governments were also partly political constructions. And of course, it is not a question of denationalizing or imposing anything. But we have to be aware that, as Polish, German, Spanish or English, we all have a common European interest in some issues. And that added level of identification, to be democratic, it must be subject to debate. But for a fruitful debate, all EU citizens should have basic information about their mechanisms and functioning.

(Yes, another paradox, dear friends: in the information age, the most advanced we have never known, the average citizen does not know how they are elected or appointed, our representatives in EU Institutions, who they are or what they are for).

Despite the economic crisis, the process of enlargement of the EU goes ahead.

The enlargement of Europe continues. Precisely Croatia is going to join the EU. Serbia has received candidate status. Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently commended in Moldova their pro-European attitude. We are encouraging Georgia to strengthen its democracy and recent elections were a good sign. We hold talks with the Ukrainians to create the conditions for ratification of the treaty of association with the EU. Moreover, in the justification for the award of the Nobel Prize to the EU, it is stated that due to the enlargement of the European Union, it has been expanded the area of ​​peace in Europe. A verdict of Norwegians, that is to say, people from outside the EU, so some of it has to be true.


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