Stanley's blog

The Schuman Plan of 9 May 1950 heralded 60 years of peace, stability and prosperity.

One death in Sarajevo in 1914 led to millions of deaths in Europe; thousands of deaths in Sarajevo in the 1990s did not for one moment affect the stability of western Europe.

Much has changed during these 60 years in Europe and in the world. The EU must adapt to the changing circumstances. However, the principles of the EU Founding Fathers remain valid – the voluntary pooling of sovereignty, the identification of the common interest and the solving together of common problems.

“Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.”

60 years on, it is true that the European Union is no longer integrating further in the direction it needs. The Franco-German relationship is not as close as it was. Solidarity is lacking. The euro is at risk without economic and greater political union. We don’t yet have CFSP.

Much is wrong with he way the EU is organized and managed, but most of the blame lies with Member State leaders who blame their own failings on ‘Brussels’ and whose egos often hinder effective cooperation. As my colleague Max Kohstamm, the last living Founding Father, says: the EU is divided into two groups of countries, those who know they are small and those who do not.

We should not be surprised that Brussels is not popular in the Member States. After all, what happens in Brussels is largely due to the Members State leaders, who lack support or credibility in most of their countries.

We are squandering the benefits of the Lisbon Treaty through national egotism, turf wars and weak Commission leadership. Parliament is defending the Commission’s position more strongly than it defends itself.

However, history teaches us that the EU progresses through crises, and we can but hope that history repeats itself.

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  1. As someone who lived through WW2 (in the UK), I agree with all of your sentiments. The EU has given us many freedoms. Freedom from wars between member states; freedom of movement across the EU; freedom to work anywhere within the EU; etc

    But it has yet to give us the full freedom of democracy. Too much of the work of the EU is kept away from us; accounts are shrouded in layers of obfuscation; we are not allowed to vote for the EU President, nor even the Commission President.

    The member nations’ leaders have lost sight of the basic ideals on which the EU was founded. The EU should not be seeking new extensions of its boundaries or of its powers. It should be spending time consolidating and building upon the basic fundamentals. It might then win back some credibility.

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