Tomado de: http://www.signandsight.com/
What Europe needs now
On the eve of EU's 50th anniversary, German philosopher Jürgen Habermas sets out what he believes are the most pressing items on the European agenda
The weekend of March 24-25 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome and the birth of the European Union. In an interview, philosopher and social scientist Jürgen Habermas looks at Europe's development and speculates about its future. He proposes that, in the Europe-wide elections scheduled for 2009, citizens should vote on a referendum asking whether the European Union should have a directly elected president, its own foreign minister and financial base.
Matthias Hoenig: Herr Habermas, You were just 15 at the end of World War II, but that was old enough to personally experience the devastating effects of blind nationalism. Now that the EU is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, what do you remember as a witness of those postwar years?
Jürgen Habermas: I must confess that, 50 years ago, the domestic question of nuclear arms for the West German army was of more passionate interest to me than the creation of the European Economic Community. I didn't realize back then that the EEC as a customs union had already been equipped with constitutional-like institutions and therefore offered the prospect of a real European Community, that is, a political unification of the countries of Western Europe. On the other hand, the motives of supporters of the national peace movement were in accord with those driving the six EEC founding nations and their chief spokesmen, Adenauer, de Gasperi and Schumann. Those aims were: no more war between the nation-states which had devastated one another in two world wars, and the firm anchoring of Germany in a community of European nations, the selfsame Germany which had launched the last war and bore the monstrous, criminal responsibility for the Holocaust.
That EU member states could ever again make war on one another seems inconceivable. And the mature Common Market has brought prosperity to many people. May we then celebrate an historic paradigm shift in European politics, away from thinking in terms of nation-states and towards a genuinely pan-European view?
That is certainly cause for celebration, even though the paradigm shift is not yet complete. But there has been quite another outcome which, with some degree of self-awareness, we could put to good use. In today's tense, multi-polar situation, European unification makes it possible for us to play a role which no one could have foreseen back at the start of the East-West conflict. At the outset, "Europe" was a response to internal problems; today, when we think about the future of Europe, our eyes are mainly on problems which challenge us from the outside. It is not only the EU's eastward expansion which is extending the dynamics of unification beyond the level arrived at in Nice. But admittedly we are not yet ready to play the role of a diplomatic bridge among global powers.
Could you cite a particular geopolitical challenge?
Let's take the example of the recent conflict between Israel and Hizbullah, carried out on Lebanese soil. Thanks to the Bush government's one-sided policy on the Middle East conflict, the USA has long been a partisan player. Many people pinned their hopes on Europe, which was regarded as neutral. But aside from sending its foreign policy spokesman Javier de Solana to Beirut and Jerusalem, the EU provided a laughable spectacle with its chorus of dissonant voices. At the same time certain individual countries, such as France, Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, tried to stand out on their own, and outdo one another by putting forward home-grown initiatives
What would you place at the top of the EU's policy agenda: the recently defeated EU constitution; a common European foreign policy; joint European armed forces; the taming of international neo-liberalism by setting social standards; or taking a leading role in international efforts to deal with climate change?
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