How has the Covid pandemic affected the EU as a Union of States that share history and common values?
Cooperation is difficult, especially between independent bodies with different hurdles and unique goals; that is why international organizations are so fragile. The EU is a young entity, though; a unicum of its kind. It started with a fairly straightforward promise, but it has grown larger and more complex over time. Every victory is delightful, but for all we know, every mistake could be fatal.
The EU pillars
The burning question is: can the EU stretch beyond economics and survive? The short answer would be yes. We can and we have technically gone beyond economics as a union, since we have a supranational framework of legislature and agreements that cover a diverse array of matters. But the in-depth answer is not so easy to encapsulate. While economyis one of the many pillars that support the EU, it is certainly not the only one. The sense of shared values, history and culture provides a sentiment of fellowship and trust that is a fundamental ingredient for the prosperity of this project. History speaks for itself; the EU has accomplished many things but there’s certainly room for improvement.
The rise of nationalism, shortsighted decision-making and the overblown importance given to the economic aspect are some of the biggest threats to the Union in this day and age; Brexit being the most glaring sign of the danger that these factors pose.
The current situation profoundly deviates from the vision that led to the creation of the European Union. Nevertheless, despite the negligence of Member States to believe in this vision and to set aside their nationalistic interests in order to achieve a solid union which claims prosperity for all its members, a bright sunbeam persists in pointing out the great potential that such an ambition holds. The sources of this hope cannot be any other than, on the one side, the fundamental pillars that the inspirers of the European vision have used to build the deficit of the European Spirit, and on the other side, the Europea-ness that seems to characterize the state of mind of younger generations of Europeans, who wish for a Europe relieved from the tight boundaries that borders among European nations create.
A Federation of States
But, what are the conditions under which Europe will manage to create a prosperous Union of States,or even a Federation, as those who dare to dream, intensively wish for? Undeniably, the conditions which ought to be constructed to achieve such an ambition are so many that they cannot all be examined in this article. Rather, we focus your attention on some of the most basic ones.
In the short-term, and from an economically-oriented point of view, the establishment of a European Taxation System could lever our union closer to its potential, as its revenues would be used to promote common European goals, derived by core principles like equality and justice for humans and nature. Towards the same direction, the Europeanization of part of the debt of the member states would be a valuable addition, maintaining not just an economic character, but also an educational one, promoting the values of an EU we should aspire to create.
The promotion of EU values
In the long-term, the EU should adopt solutions geared towards the cultural development of its citizens, in a way that will promote common European values, beliefs and behaviours over national ones, while making sure not to degrade the historical value of our cultural diversity. Such a decision could be the augmentation of the mobility of citizens – especially of the young ones – among European nations. Moreover, a catalyst that could lead to a homogenous culture is the establishment of methods that will propagate efficient practices by European states and the avoidance of unsuccessful ones among the members.
In conclusion, we believe that the EU has the potential to go above and beyond the boundaries of mere economic interests to build a Union in which a common European identity becomes reality. It is vital that we persevere in this endeavor now, when the situation is most dire, for in the words of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.