Since the very early years of the European Union, approximately 70 years ago, the Founding Father’s vision concerning the future of our continent was clear. Their first priority was to ensure that the European states would never participate in one more bloodstained conflict in their history. The main idea which would prevent them from World War III was the collaboration by structuring a Union based on the principles of democracy and solidarity. The ultimate goal was to turn the Union into a community (an even-closer union, as codified in the treaty of Rome in 1957) where the sense of European citizenship would overpass the national identity. Several years later, some serious issues seem to remove the Union from the vision of a community by threatening its cohesion.
First of all, let’s begin our analysis from the economic crisis which appeared seven years ago and threatened the stability of the Eurozone. Even though the possibility of the collapse of the Eurozone seem to have been avoided, the concern is still here. The austerity measures imposed to keep some countries alive, such as Greece, not only proved insufficient but they also multiplied the doubts among citizens referring to the Union’s ability to guarantee us a brighter future. Furthermore, the insistence on austerity shows the lack of alternatives. We cannot easily explain the dogmatic insistence on methods which undoubtedly produce insufficient results. It seems that person doesn’t constitute the first priority, taking into account that austerity is responsible for the reduction of the income and actually doesn’t give a perspective for the future.
On the other hand, the refugee crisis seems to have changed some standards referring to the way the Union used to operate. Unfortunately, closing frontiers has become a routine in our so- called modern Europe. Suspiciousness dominates our daily life. At the same time, some countries such as Hungary and Switzerland remain indifferent to refugee’s drama while the rise of nationalism is again a part of our lives. I know it is hard to believe that the Union steps back in darkest periods when nationalism and xenophobia were “ruled this land” but the reality is really harsh and confirms this statement. In this critical period, EU’s institutions are presented in a fait accompli, unable to predict and to convince us that can find responses in all these issues. In addition, a renewed terrorist threat underscored by the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels intensifies the concerns and offers some fertile ground for the supporters of nationalism and of closed borders. It is frustrating to observe that the response towards this crisis is just the above mentioned measures. In a modern Europe, incapable of solving its security issues, it is easy to find excuses and to consider that the desperate men, women and children are responsible for the situation. That’s a great thought expressed by people who cannot find the roots of the problem and they just follow the easy way, the way of unrealistic accusations.
Furthermore, the cohesion of the Union is still in great danger from more than one reasons. The EU has now faced the so called Brexit as the result of UK-wide referendum on the 23rd of June. The specialists believe that it is difficult to predict the domino effects and that is one more proof that the Union is unable to inspire and to convince its citizens. As time goes by and the issues are multiplied, the European idea seems to fade.
In conclusion, even more worrying is the gap between citizens and policy-makers as a result of the Union’s incapability to inspire and to find realistic responses to the issues. In countries where democracy and enlightenment were born, such as Greece and France, the rise of xenophobia cannot be and should not be a response to today’s challenges. It is us who should determine to give an end to the illusions and try to act responsibly in this demanding period.