Europe has to rediscover its founding principles

Letter by Joe Zammit-Lucia to the Financial Times in response to an FT Editorial


You are right in your editorial (Europe’s crises demand hard talk in Bratislava, September 14, 2016) that the EU needs a fundamental reassessment in the face of multiple crises. However, it is not right to say that this requires a rethink of its founding principles. The Schumann Declaration that established the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950 clearly stated: “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.” The EU’s existential crisis results from having lost sight of those original founding principles. A rush to bureaucratic centralisation “according to single plan” moved far ahead of “concrete achievements” and lost sight of the wise counsel of Jean Monnet and others that the slow process of creating solidarity among the nations had to precede not follow the creation of common institutions.

Your proposed solutions take existing principles, structures and institutions for granted while suggesting some rearrangements. The task is more fundamental than that. It is to find ways in which the EU’s component nation states can be both co-dependent and independent at the same time. For that to happen, Europe needs to re-discover not rethink its founding principles while realising just how far it has deviated from those founding principles.”

Joe Zammit-Lucia

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