Reuniting Europe

Herman Van Rompuy spoke a few days ago of 2011 as “annus horribilis”, which perhaps one day could be seen as an “annus mirabilis”, year of wonders.

We’ve seen many horrors in 2011, like the Japan tsunami and the Norway mass killing. And a couple of wonders too: the end of the Berlusconi era, the indignados-Occupy Wall street movements, and the Arab spring. And the US left Iraq.
I’m not optimistic about the Arab spring and I’m not proud of how it’s been handled by European capitals. Sorry Mr. Van Rompuy, but I don’t think that we would change any time later our opinion about 2011. But in spite of the gloomy recession mood, I wish 2012 could be a better year.
Politically Europe needs change, as the current attempts to reform capitalism are unconvincing. The French Presidential elections provide a big opportunity; however, the Socialist candidate François Hollande has so far disclosed no real project. If he does, that would be a miracle. If he doesn’t, the surge of Marine Le Pen will be even more frightening.
A surge of democracy is looming in Russia on the occasion of the presidential elections. The EU is just an observer to the downslide of democracy in Russia, Turkey and many other places on earth. If the EU was more straightforward with its own problems, if it could stop for example the authoritarian tendencies in Hungary, it would be more credible in its external action.
It’s difficult to imagine a miracle happening in the Berlaymont these days. But I remember the Delors years, when the Berlaymont was a factory of ideas and big projects for Europe. And that was several EU treaties before. That’s why I say the EU institutions don’t need treaty change. They need political courage, or continue their decline into irrelevance. One can be indifferent about their fate, but our continent will be quite insignificant without the EU.

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