All roads lead to Rome: The EU at sixty

Ceterum censeo Europam esse aedificandam (Joseph Bech)

On 25 March 1957, 60 years ago, two key treaties for the future of Europe were signed in Rome: the Treaties establishing the European Economic Community (Treaty of Rome) and the European Atomic Energy Community.
Through the Treaty of Rome was established the European Economic Community (EEC) that brought together six countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxemburg and the Netherlands), all of them wanting to act in order to integrate and have economic growth through trade. Thus, a common market was created based on the free movement of goods, persons, services and capitals.
It was a very important symbolic moment when former enemies reunited into signing a series of agreements with an extraordinary significance in a Europe that was still not fully recovered after the Second World War and was struggling in the midst of the Cold War.

The wish of the signatories’ parties of building the basis for an “even closer union” between the European nations and unite their own resources in order to maintain and consolidate the peace
and freedom while also making an appeal to other European nations that shared this ideal, in order to join these efforts, paid off. 60 years have since passed, marked by fundamental transformations for the European citizens. Europe reunited and transformed itself under the pressure of globalization, becoming for many of us a natural construction. The passage of time lead however to the fading of the common historical memory, we have started to forget the sacrifices done by our forefathers in order to build a continent of peace. Today’s European Union represents that sort of presence that we realise we need only when it is no longer here, a presence that we take for “granted”.
Thus, we are now in a difficult moment of the European construction when, in a complicated socio-economic context, various opposing forces openly talk about a possible dissipation of the European Union after the model of the United Kingdom exit process from the European Union.
The European construction has been, from its beginnings, ambivalent, both a reaction to the existing crises and an answer to the challenges of the future. Just like 60 years ago the the current European elites realize that the European Union cannot stay the same, but must change in order to respond to older and newer challenges: crisis of the European social model; economic
crisis; European Union neighbourhood geopolitical challenges; Brexit; populist movements resurgence; refugee and migrant crisis; new industrial and political revolution generated by the new technologies.
A first institutional answer was given by the European Parliament through its three Reports approved by the plenary on 16 February 2017, Reports that tackle various issues of the challenges the European Union must face in the current context: Treaties Reform, building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty, on budgetary capacity for the Eurozone.
We must add to this the White Paper on the future of Europe: Avenues for unity for the EU at 27, launched by the European Commission on 1 March 2017, which was debated before and during the Rome Summit of 25 March 2017.
The Rome Summit had therefore a powerful symbolical charge, the future of Europe discussion dominating once more the agenda. Romania, as Member State, stood firmly against any initiative that would formalize the creation of two-speed Europe.
Any differentiation between the member states would lead only to the weakening of the Union and would favour the centrifugal tendencies. Europe must remain consolidated and strong, able to stand up to the major challenges of today. The development solutions cannot and must not be individual ones, but they must be collective. Europe must return to the original project intentions, it must (re)gain the lost or never owned trust of the European citizens.
The new Europe that would rise following the Brexit ordeals must be a Europe of the citizens, meant to keep peace and bring welfare. We need founding myths of Europe, and Rome, with its universal vocation and historical tradition, can be at the basis of these new myths, being understood not as external symbols, but as internalized myths by each European citizen. The refugee and migrant crisis acted not as a starting point, but as a revealing factor of the internal cracks of the Union. We are not in crisis due to the migratory flows, but we are in crisis due to past, long ignored, evolutions. Europe was the victim of internal political games, never really being internalized, but at most mentioned in political speeches as a body distinct in regards to the national project.
The four pillars of the European Union, as they are revealed by the Rome Declaration: a safe and secure Europe; a prosperous and sustainable Europe; a social Europe and a stronger Europe on the global scene, are the premises of a future stable construction. The problem would be that of going beyond the intention commitment and start integrating them in the day to day life. The extraordinary technological progress, the fast communication and the expansion of elites of any sort have led to an out of the chart activation of the importance of citizens. Europe would thus need to respond to these challenges and realize that it must harmonize the strategical interests with the individual ones.
Every citizen matters, each individual story needs to be taken into consideration because we either matter altogether or no one matters. Fighting this democratic deficit, implementing the priorities above mentioned, the citizen empowerment and the realization of a truly social Europe which would act as a safety net for all the European citizens would represent the challenges of today and of the immediate future. It is up to every one of us to make sure that the quality of life improves for everyone and that we build a secure and prosperous common future.

The article was first published in the EIR newsletter, no. 84 – March 2017