by Mareike Kuerschner
Why follow moderate ideas, when you have a great one? Why give up on it, even you know, it can’t be reached? Churchill spoke in 1946 about the ‘United States of Europe’, which I consider as a great, but unfortunately unattainable idea. But that should not mean that we can’t pursue this idea as an ideal. We honestly have to question, what do we want Europe to be and what we are willing to contribute to a European community?
I attended a speech at the London School of Economics held by Professor Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag, who promoted Churchill’s idea and does well to spread it especially among young people, the future leaders of Europe. His remarks were mainly focused around the statement that there is no crisis that can’t be overcome as the European Union is the product of the crises of two World Wars. We are experiencing a period of stability and prosperity – and, according to Lammert, we are overusing the term ‘crisis’ compared to what Europe has already gone through.
Europe’s (financial) crisis can be solved, when we disengage us from the assumption that today’s problems can be tackled on a national level. Like a mantra, the President of the German Bundestag repeats that – and he is right. If we want to regain control over the economic integration we pursued, European states need to integrate politically. There was a wish for a European market right at the beginning (implemented with the Treaty of Rome), we created it and now – better late than never – we need to cope with the consequences, which indicate a political community to get hold of the problems. Giving up sovereignty is not a new issue, but the tremendous challenges we are facing now give us new reasons to do so.
We should not be afraid of utopian ideas, if we can see them as ideals to lead us through turbulent times. Therefore, the ‘United States of Europe’ should be seen as an ideal on the way to an efficient European community, because economic integration demands a mutual approach on the political level. But it is neither the current institutional structure nor the fundamental differences between the 27 member states of the European Union, which worry me the most. It is the lack of capable individuals with a clear idea for the future of Europe, people who believe in Europe as a political, not only economic entity and are willing to contribute to it.