Europe Day commemorates the anniversary of the declaration made by the then-French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in 1950. When one thinks about the difficulties European countries had to endure during the decades-long European integration process, one has to admit that the EU has been a great success after all. However, there is a big difference between the European leaders of today and their predecessors. The main concern of the founders of the EU was to find a way to make Europe a free, prosperous and just continent, and in order to achieve this, they agreed to put aside their nations’ short-sighted interests and egoisms.
Nevertheless, in the last few years, this platform of peace, prosperity and democracy that we call the EU has become a battlefield of the ambitions of a number of leaders. They have probably forgotten that one’s loss is everybody’s loss and they have turned the EU into a zone of economic and financial crisis.
Every economy faces crises from time to time; this is not abnormal per se. If there were no crises at all, there would be no need for a science called economics. What is abnormal about the crisis the EU is going through is that the disagreements between the leaders have been more important in causing this crisis than the economic realities.
The divergences between member countries are not only in the economic field but also to do with the EU’s external relations and enlargement policy. Maybe because of these disagreements the EU is no longer attractive to Turks as well as to European nations. Moreover, since the EU leaders seem to worry about “foreigners” in European territory more than anything else, the EU is progressively perceived as a closed and introverted organization.
The EU is now obsessed with its borders and only looking at internal problems is preventing Europe from addressing global problems. Moreover, one can’t even say that the EU members are worried about the EU as a whole; they seem to care more about their own countries’ problems than the EU’s future.
The EU, despite everything, is still the most solid reference for human rights, democracy, the rule of law and international peace. However, its current state is gravely damaging its credibility on these matters and this is not only a problem for EU citizens. The EU was considered the “ideal” example in the vast area surrounding the EU. That is why the EU leaders’ responsibility is not only towards the EU but towards all peoples of the world. Only a few years ago, the EU was still perceived as capable of generating peace in the surrounding area.
In order to see the consequences of the loss of the “May 9 spirit” by the EU, one can look at EU-Turkey relations. It is instructive to observe how they managed to alienate a country which is officially a candidate for accession. Leaders who have preferred to lose Turkey instead of trying to win it have to look in the mirror and ask themselves why they are so far away from Schuman’s mentality. Let’s hope it is not too late and let’s hope that there are still leaders in Europe capable of self-criticism.