Not such a happy anniversary
9 May 2010
"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." On this day exactly 60 years ago, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman presented a proposal that is considered to be one of the founding documents of the European Union. The historic declaration of 9 May 1950 and in particular its focus on solidarity remains as relevant today as it was more than half a century ago, because solidarity – or rather the absence of solidarity – is at the root of the serious crisis, which is currently undermining the European Union and the common currency that is one of its main achievements.
The atmosphere today has little in common with the optimism that was de rigueur in a post-war Europe, which had to contend with the challenge of rebuilding all that had been destroyed in six years of conflict. In contemporary European and national politics, the ideal of solidarity, which no longer pays sufficient electoral dividends, has now been sidelined by populism and the struggle to cope with economic recession. Nonetheless, it was an appeal to this ideal, espoused by European statesmen who had a vision that went beyond national borders, which enabled Europe to rise from the ashes. Unfortunately, their inspiration is not shared by our contemporary leaders, whose hesitation and timid response to the Greek crisis and the risk of contagion in the rest of the eurozone now threatens to subvert the common structures that have been painstakingly built over the last 60 years.
In acknowledgement of this threat and to celebrate the anniversary of the Schuman declaration, today Presseurop will publish the first in a series of articles on the future of Europe and the euro, which has never been more in doubt.