Back to basics in the EU

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

EU citizens feel insecure and that their voices aren't reaching the ears of their political leaders despite sometimes violent demonstrations. Desperation is growing in several EU countries, says Gilbert Fayl.

Gilbert Fayl is president of the Global Roundtable. He writes this opinion in a private capacity.

In this time of crisis, while waiting for our political leaders to show the way forwards, a plethora of constructive ideas and criticisms are put forward by individuals.

It might hence be useful to recall the view of two thinkers and humanists who profoundly influenced the course of human history:

Albert Einstein said, “I fear the day when technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots”; and Robert Schuman said, “Europe before being a military alliance or an economic entity must be a cultural community in the highest sense of expression”.

Let us be unambiguously clear: Europe needs the EU and EU solutions – in addition to national- and regional ones. It seems highly unlikely that the current main concern of European citizens be abstract initiatives – such as stated “to boost online communication between politicians and population, mainly through social media” and similar ones.

What the citizens of the EU need is confidence about their prospects of a decent existence within the EU. It includes: peace (congratulations to the EU for the Nobel Peace Prize), the prospect to earn income through work not alms, existence without fear, and so on.

Nonetheless EU citizens feel insecure and that their voices aren't reaching the ears of their political leaders in spite even of sometimes violent demonstrations. Desperation is growing in several EU countries.

Austerity measures might be required and intervention might be successful  – but what if the cure kills the patient?

The main concern of Mrs. Papanopoulus in Greece and Mr. Gonzales in Spain, and all the other Europeans surviving at close to existence minimum, is simply food and jobs – and prospects for the future.

We need an added vision and related political acts for an EU under the new global circumstances.

But political leaders are still failing to inject visionary, long-term objectives that could catch attention and raise hope for a better and joint future – the founding fathers managed to do this.

Maybe unsurprisingly, the European project is losing its appeal and interest for the population at large. The vision, objective and implications of the “Lisbon Strategy” and now the “Europe 20-20-20” fail to appeal intellectually and emotional to the population – and are of even less interest to the young generation.

They are not easily understandable and emotionally accessible. Could the just gained Nobel Peace Prize provide some stimulation?

The EU needs sensible and powerful initiatives in response to the evolving global circumstances and challenges. But this could only happen if the EU had a genuine long-term vision for its survival as a “unity”.

Such a vision must respect certain basics, including fundamental European values in the sphere of the European cultural identity. Our political leaders must not be ashamed of the fact that the foundation of European culture had been laid by the Greeks and strengthened by the Romans.

Christianity contributed with basic principles that were renewed and rationalised by the Renaissance and Reformation.

In this spirit and as an inspiration to our political leaders, it might be appropriate to quote a recent recommendation by the Global Round Table:

“The European Union has the opportunity and mandate to set an example for the promotion and protection of cultural – and linguistic diversity, plurality and sustainability. These distinctive features make Europe a force for peace and prosperity in the world. The European Union should establish the European Local and Regional Culture Fund within its next Multi-annual Financial Perspective (2014–2020) and promote more culture-centred policy-making.”

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