It's time to get excited about Europe

As I sit staring at a blinking cursor on my computer screen trying to come up with an idea for this month's column, it suddenly occurs to me that this is my 50th article for El Economista. I rejoice in the fact that what started out as a journalistic commitment to writing some articles, has become an important opportunity to share my ideas and impressions with readers. While a flurry of countless topics cross my mind, to both celebrate, in words, this occasion, I finally zeroed in on the construction of a new European project, and the new political status for Basques as a result.

In my opinion, the presentation of the European Commission’s "White Paper on the future of Europe: Avenues for unity for the EU at 27", has been timely. I applaud this initiative, even if the EU has been forced to "re-arm" by some of the grave challenges facing the Union at this time. Indeed, the EU is gearing up to deal with a number of grave issues, namely: Brexit; the growing opposition to European integration (Le Pen, Wilders, etc.), which also carries with it some implicitly racist and anti-social behaviours; the refugee crisis, as well as the New International Order which relegates Europe's prominent historical role to being a mere bystander.

I believe that one of the weaknesses of our modern society is that short-term thinking and focusing on the immediate and the fleeting, heavily influence a great number of decisions taken by governments, and more often than not, by companies as well. In essence, we have not collectively decided to think through and decide upon what kid of future we truly want for Europe, which, in turn, is bogging down the process of policy-making and implementation of real structures which would consolidate the EU itself.

As Nietzsche put it: 'He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how'. There could be quite a number of future outcomes for Europe, and the main thing is that, collectively, we need to specify what it is that we want, and then define the steps needed to realise that goal.

The proposal put forward by European Commission President, Jean-Claude Junker, calls for a choice from amongst five scenarios: 1) Continuity of the current process; 2) Common Market and nothing more; 3) Europe à la carte; 4) Focusing the EU on fewer more efficient issues; and finally, 5) Doing many things all together. It is the moment of truth, in other words, we now have the opportunity of choosing a model for the future of Europe which strengthens working together.

Personally, I would reject the first four of the proposed options, especially the idea of a two-speed Europe. If, however, what I want is to look forward to an exciting future for Europe, I'd invest all my time and energy in creating a transformational and integrative European Project in the spirit of the last proposal; this, I believe, would ultimately be more appealing to the Basque people.

Read the original article in El Economista (Spanish).

Sabin Azua

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