« Men only accept change in necessity and see necessity only in crisis “.
This sentence comes from Jean Monnet’s ‘Memoirs’, published in 1976 – 3 years prior to his death. Born in 1888, he actively engaged in constructing alliances between peoples to push for greater prosperity and peace. He was Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Nations, an institution that later on transformed into the United Nations. He was also the writer of the “Schuman Declaration”, which was solemnly read aloud on 9th May 1950 in Paris by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs in office at the time: Robert Schuman, a fervent European.
Together with Konrad Adenauer and Alcide de Gasperi, they form the quartet known as “the founding fathers of the European Union”. Further proof of Jean Monnet’s selfless work, who cared less for the titles and honors than for progress in the society in which he lived in. If he was still alive today, he would repeat the same sentence, although it is possible he might have taken a more nuanced approach saying “human beings” instead of “Men”.
We are now at a crossroads where we are aware that a change of model is necessary, but there is a lack of sufficient will and courage to break through the walls of the comfort zone in which a greater part of the ruling class find themselves. But the people, the peoples, are experiencing the disastrous consequences of that lack of bravery and generosity. These values are fundamental in a time where the majority of Europeans are going through hardships which we thought were a thing of a past. Faced with an evident change of paradigms, European States feel collectively lost and don’t know where to start to unravel the mess.
Inequality figures are worrying, migration management is scandalous, the use of military and law enforcement as a way to solve social problems is absurd, the demand for austerity by the few who benefit from the many is unacceptable, and the inability to put a stop to the bitter conflicts on Europe’s doorstep is intolerable.
European States, instead of confronting this crisis in a serious manner, continue business as usual: a policy of concentrating power, recentralizing competencies and burying their heads in the sand, putting democracy to shame. How can Europe lecture us when it trades with Turkey or Libya to shake off the migration problem? How can Europe lecture us when it shows a total and complicit silence when faced with a Spanish State whose democracy is going astray? When politics are being judicialized, politicians, militants and activists are put into preventative prison, and the Spanish State is ruled by corrosive corruption?
Faced with these long questions and opaque answers, here is a short question with a short answer: Is Europe necessary? Yes, it is.
Democracy can not be left for tomorrow. Europe is crumbling on several fronts: the national construction of some of its peoples, and social instability and job insecurity of the greater majority. For this reason, it is time to act with determination, just as Monnet did during his time. Another Europe is necessary, one that respects the different rhythms of each people and nation that composes it, with some leading all the way to independence as new European States, and others aspiring, in the same way, to greater autonomy and sovereignty. Civil society in Europe is crying out for a radical change. Youth unemployment, indecent pensions, the belittling and objectification of women can no longer remain without answer. This society, both mobilizing and mobilized, has shown that battles can be won from the streets, through self-organisation and solidarity. I’ll just end with another quote from Monnet : “Peace and prosperity will only be guaranteed if the people unite.”