Forum Topics Started
Before addressing this workshop’s theme directly, I would like to offer perhaps ceremonial but nonetheless sincere apologies for any words I might mispronounce. I will do my absolute best to express my view on the concerned topic in a clear and relevant way and hope that this address will meet your expectations. The very title of our workshop raises questions: how is the world changing? And how are we supposed to define and evaluate the strength of our Union? Do we refer to our military strength in a world of constant crisis and increasing tensions? Or are we rather referring to our strength in a more general way, therefore including social and cultural notions, as well as economic and structural factors? Recent events in our contemporary history, such as the rise of international institutions and the fall of the USSR, led us to think that our socio-political model, what we often refer to as liberal democracy, would in the future go unopposed and thus, that we had entered the era of post-strength: we had nothing to conquer, nothing to defend. But we were partly mistaken and those certitudes we had, those certitudes we carefully built and looked after, now represent the first obstacle that we, as progressives, need to overcome. To some of us progressives, strength is a dirty word, so deeply linked to centuries of barbarity, violence and martial crimes that we felt as if turning our back on this very notion would be enough to gain the moral high ground. Yet, other thinkers from our ranks thought differently and dared express a paradoxical evidence of theirs: the less we’re willing to use our strength, to more we should improve it. Does the Union need to improve its strength from a quantitative point of view? Apart from NATO’ arbitrary goal of dedicating 3% of one nation’s GDP to its military budget, one can hardly accurately define the limit below which strength begins shrinking. But there definitely are things to improve from a qualitative point of view, especially in term of industrial cooperation, strategic thinking, and interoperability of our forces. And yet, there’s still one more thing that I ought to say to this assemble: our Union IS strong. And it needs to use its strength. Not to invade countries, not to conquer lands, not to submit people, but to defend its own interests. We now have to deal with a US president turning into a warmonger-in-chief; we now have to deal with countries considered “western” leaving international institutions and disregarding international agreements without having to suffer any kind of diplomatic or political retribution. More than anything else, those realities are to be met with a European response: The Union needs not only to be strong, but to act in a strong, independent way as well. If not, History will severely judge us: we will enter history books as “the power who refused to be powerful” and peoples will only remember this: we could have changed the world – but we refused to.
As far as European Integration is concerned, Less, history teaches us, is More. One look at the past is enough to understand what the Union was built on and for : Peace in our time, cooperation between peoples, stability and prosperity for all. But those things have been stolen from us : peace have been achieved through silence, the ideal of cooperation has been used to promote a liberal agenda, stability and prosperity, which our elders rightfully considered as rights now appear to be privileges. The growing number of European leaders turning their back on the EU is nothing but the results of those dark dynamics : we never had dreams about economic cooperation though we could understand how that would allow our interactions to be even more relevant and healthy, but we can’t live in a Union of bosses and investors, of tax evasion and social dumping, of performances and failures. We need ideals to drive us forward, we need ideals to carry on with our lives, we need ideals to connect peoples otherwise divided by boarders, mountains, rivers and seas. For sometimes, waking up requires from us to dream first, we need to offer the workers and the peoples of the Union a common foundation of values and ideals that every European nations should pledge to honour and defend. Let the Union to the dreamers and the passionate! Let go of the pragmatists, of the selfish! For they are killing our Union, our ambitions, our aspirations and our hopes.