Wednesday, October 25, 2017

‘A Europe We Can Believe In?’ Unbelievable
By Sun Keqin
Global Times
2017/10/24 21:47:03

The Paris Statement recently attracted attention inside and outside Europe. Written by 10 European conservative scholars and intellectuals, "A Europe We Can Believe In" demonstrated that some conservative members of the European elite and their Euroskeptic partners revel in populism. Beset by crises, Europe faces challenges of belief and theory. Debate over European integration has entered a crucial stage.

Though contradictory, opinions in the statement come from a clear basic standpoint. They negate two things: first, the achievement of European integration. They argue that "a false Europe threatens us," "it will confiscate our home." "The false Europe praises itself as the forerunner of a universal community that is neither universal nor a community," the statement reads.

Second, multiculturalism. "Multiculturalism is unworkable. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe. At the same time they take great care not to offend Muslims, who they imagine will cheerfully adopt their secular, multicultural outlook," these scholars state.

Next they put forward their own propositions for Europe: the hope of returning to the nation state, emphasizing a Christian spirit, opposing Muslim immigrants and showing sympathy for populism.

Europe's dilemma revealed in the Paris Statement has foundations. Globalization, the continuous extension of the EU, multicultural policies and the neoliberal governance pattern have challenged Europe. Western diplomacy aggravated these challenges. Populist Euroskepticism has gorged on the 2009 European debt crisis, the Ukraine crisis, the refugee crisis, terrorism, fragmentation of society, Brexit and the internal contradictions of EU members. Disagreement and arguments raged among European elites. In this context, the statement hardly surprises anyone at all.

It is easy to complain and rake up faults. To get out of a predicament and predict the way forward takes courage, tolerance and boldness of vision. The 10 intellectuals hoped to find answers in the old world, the nation state and the Christian order. This is their fatal flaw.

Europe can never go back, nor is it necessary.

First of all, Europe's past is not as bright and beautiful as painted. Europe is the birthplace of the nation state, where the contradiction between Europe's narrow national space and huge capitalist productivity gave rise to constant warring. Two world wars almost destroyed Europe, twice. Some European history books paint European history of the early 20th century as an era of crisis and misery. The painful lessons of history demonstrate that Europe cannot go back.

Through the efforts of Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, European integration came from the demand for peace in Europe. More than 60 years of European integration has indeed brought peace and prosperity to Europe as well as a new regional governance pattern to the world.

Second, European integration enmeshes institutional, legal, economic, cultural and security bonds. In today's global age, exchanges between EU countries and other countries become inseparable. Their culture and civilizations blend too closely. For this reason, mainstream thinkers and most people in the EU affirm the existence of a European Union.

As there is no way to go back and the current situation is beset with difficulties, Europeans can only look forward and seek once again the best way forward. Whether EU supporters, centrists or skeptics, European countries are currently debating the crisis and prospects of the EU.

Although different personalities are at odds with each other and populism runs rife, support for the EU remains the predominant direction forward. The EU continually generates constructive initiatives, such as a "multi-speed Europe." Abounding with fresh ideas, Europe should be able to find appropriate solutions.

The author is a research fellow with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

No comments: