European Union 1951-2017: ‘Per aspera ad astra’

In critical times, it is fair to determine the relevance of the European Union as a brand new institution, both international and intergovernmental. This political organization, somewhere between a federation and (closer to) a confederation, tends to economic integration and political union of its members to attain peace and prosperity in Europe.

If Schuman, Monnet or Adenauer had ever been present on the commemoration ceremony, sixty years ago, of the Treaties of Rome, on 25 March 2017, they would have possibly felt deeply moved by the high rate of development of current Europe, specially when looking back and value the distance covered and the community of countries which set up the States of the European continent more than half a century ago. In sixty years, we have gone from 6 to 28 Member States, from 3 European communities to the European Union, from a Europe divided by the Iron Curtain to a re-unified Europe of post-Soviet Europe, from European peoples to European citizenship, from the common market to the economic and monetary union. The more Euro-sceptical views of the process of European integration, from the past and current ones, cannot erase the extraordinary character of the European enterprise as a way of reorganising relationships between States after the mayhem of the Second World War; the undeniable transcendence of the European Union as a brand-new politeya, both international and intergovernmental, communitarian and cooperative. This political organization, somewhere between a federation and (closer to) a confederation, tends to economic integration and political union of its members to attain peace and prosperity in Europe.

And this is possible despite, and also thanks to, the crises undergone. The story of a united Europe proves the catalytic effect of critical times. The Schuman Declaration of 9th May 1950, the foundational text that paved the way for the Treaty of Paris, the document that set up the European Community of Coal and Steal in 1951, was received and went down in history as a healing balm, a declaration that allowed sealing the French-German conciliation by creating a competentially modest framework —as it was limited to coal and steel—, but symbolically crucial all the same, as it contains an international formula that allows overcoming and re-legitimise, at the same time, the European State-nation after the world conflict.

 

After the initial desolation caused by the British decision to put an end to forty years of shared history, one can foresee that the Brexit, far from diluting the European construction, will reinforce its cohesion and the essential Franco-German axis

 

Consecutively, from the beginning to the present, that swinging pendulum, the great stages of the process of European integration repeat the same sequence. The biggest qualitative leaps in the history of European construction are rooted in previous critical moments; unfavourable times have spurred us on and have served as a catharsis. The two Treaties of Rome of 1957, founding documents of the European Economic Community and Euratom served as a catalyst in the face of the failure of the European Comunity Defense of 1952; The Single European Act transformed the Common Market into the Internal Market in 1986 and institutionalized and formalized it as a single legal instrument —hence, the term “single act”— the European Political Cooperation mechanism (CPE) in 1970 reactivated, as a shock therapy, integration after twenty years of freezing, as a result of the crisis of an empty seat in 1965 —abandonment of community meetings of France to block decisions by qualified majority— and the Luxembourg Compromise in 1966, a veto to national interests. The Maastricht Treaty set up the creation of the European Union and a citizenship associated to the Union, besides transforming and bringing down the former CPE mechanism in Foreign Politics and Common Security and Cooperation in Justice and Domestic Affairs was set up because of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the implosion of the Soviet block, the war in former Yugoslavia and the repositioning of Germany in the new world order. Likewise, leaving monetarist theories aside, the adoption of a single currency is related to German reunification, as well as the adoption of the Treaty of Stability and progress in banking union since 2012 must be seen in the light of the 2008 economic and financial crisis. After the initial desolation caused by the British decision to put an end to forty years of shared history, one can foresee that the Brexit, far from diluting the European construction, will reinforce its cohesion and the essential Franco-German axis.

In conclusion, sixty years of common history prove not only the extraordinary capacity of resistance of the European integration in the face of cyclical attacks throughout history, but also the driving force exerted by adverse circumstances in developing the process. The European crises have never been the end of the story. They have contributed to reaffirming the single character of a united Europe. Going back to the origin, defining the idea of Europe, making statements about nature and the purpose of political organizations, in a nutshell, carry out an ontological exercise about the nature and the future of Europe. For all these purposes are crises useful, i.e. give value to the present, fixing our outlook in memory and conscience of the past.

European Union 1951-2017: ‘Per aspera ad astra’

In critical times, it is fair to determine the relevance of the European Union as a brand new institution, both international and intergovernmental. This political organization, somewhere between a federation and (closer to) a confederation, tends to economic integration and political union of its members to attain peace and prosperity in Europe.

If Schuman, Monnet or Adenauer had ever been present on the commemoration ceremony, sixty years ago, of the Treaties of Rome, on 25 March 2017, they would have possibly felt deeply moved by the high rate of development of current Europe, specially when looking back and value the distance covered and the community of countries which set up the States of the European continent more than half a century ago. In sixty years, we have gone from 6 to 28 Member States, from 3 European communities to the European Union, from a Europe divided by the Iron Curtain to a re-unified Europe of post-Soviet Europe, from European peoples to European citizenship, from the common market to the economic and monetary union. The more Euro-sceptical views of the process of European integration, from the past and current ones, cannot erase the extraordinary character of the European enterprise as a way of reorganising relationships between States after the mayhem of the Second World War; the undeniable transcendence of the European Union as a brand-new politeya, both international and intergovernmental, communitarian and cooperative. This political organization, somewhere between a federation and (closer to) a confederation, tends to economic integration and political union of its members to attain peace and prosperity in Europe.

And this is possible despite, and also thanks to, the crises undergone. The story of a united Europe proves the catalytic effect of critical times. The Schuman Declaration of 9th May 1950, the foundational text that paved the way for the Treaty of Paris, the document that set up the European Community of Coal and Steal in 1951, was received and went down in history as a healing balm, a declaration that allowed sealing the French-German conciliation by creating a competentially modest framework —as it was limited to coal and steel—, but symbolically crucial all the same, as it contains an international formula that allows overcoming and re-legitimise, at the same time, the European State-nation after the world conflict.

 

After the initial desolation caused by the British decision to put an end to forty years of shared history, one can foresee that the Brexit, far from diluting the European construction, will reinforce its cohesion and the essential Franco-German axis

 

Consecutively, from the beginning to the present, that swinging pendulum, the great stages of the process of European integration repeat the same sequence. The biggest qualitative leaps in the history of European construction are rooted in previous critical moments; unfavourable times have spurred us on and have served as a catharsis. The two Treaties of Rome of 1957, founding documents of the European Economic Community and Euratom served as a catalyst in the face of the failure of the European Comunity Defense of 1952; The Single European Act transformed the Common Market into the Internal Market in 1986 and institutionalized and formalized it as a single legal instrument —hence, the term “single act”— the European Political Cooperation mechanism (CPE) in 1970 reactivated, as a shock therapy, integration after twenty years of freezing, as a result of the crisis of an empty seat in 1965 —abandonment of community meetings of France to block decisions by qualified majority— and the Luxembourg Compromise in 1966, a veto to national interests. The Maastricht Treaty set up the creation of the European Union and a citizenship associated to the Union, besides transforming and bringing down the former CPE mechanism in Foreign Politics and Common Security and Cooperation in Justice and Domestic Affairs was set up because of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the implosion of the Soviet block, the war in former Yugoslavia and the repositioning of Germany in the new world order. Likewise, leaving monetarist theories aside, the adoption of a single currency is related to German reunification, as well as the adoption of the Treaty of Stability and progress in banking union since 2012 must be seen in the light of the 2008 economic and financial crisis. After the initial desolation caused by the British decision to put an end to forty years of shared history, one can foresee that the Brexit, far from diluting the European construction, will reinforce its cohesion and the essential Franco-German axis.

In conclusion, sixty years of common history prove not only the extraordinary capacity of resistance of the European integration in the face of cyclical attacks throughout history, but also the driving force exerted by adverse circumstances in developing the process. The European crises have never been the end of the story. They have contributed to reaffirming the single character of a united Europe. Going back to the origin, defining the idea of Europe, making statements about nature and the purpose of political organizations, in a nutshell, carry out an ontological exercise about the nature and the future of Europe. For all these purposes are crises useful, i.e. give value to the present, fixing our outlook in memory and conscience of the past.