Defence of Peace and European Unity

May 9 2022

Marco Impagliazzo

It takes something more profound than the common currency in order to fortify EU’s spirit

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Every year , on 9 May, the Europe Day celebrates this continent’s peace and unity. This date is the anniversary of the momentous declaration of Sir Robert Schuman, at that time French Foreign Minister. Schuman expressed his idea of a new kind of political cooperation, that would have made war among European nations unthinkable. The declaration gave birth to the entity which is at present-the European Union.
At that time the construction of the community of the European nations was in an enlightened elite’s hands. That elite, thanks to their values, chose for a paradoxical and futuristic adventure. If someone on those days had made the European peoples vote any common decision, the majority would have been against it for sure. The scars of war were too deep.
Nowadays Europe is no longer the elite’s one, but it democratically represents its citizens’ political stance through the direct elections of the Parliament. This articulated community construction is now facing the most serious crisis since its foundation: the Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and it finds hard to give an answer that can achieve a solution of the conflict through negotiation.
The European citizens feel powerless before that war and, even though they are mainly oriented towards peace, the only possible political act, which the media emphasise and the public opinion agrees with, seems to be the option of the majority of the 27 Governments of the Union: providing Ukraine with weapons. Isn’t there anything more we can say or do? Before such a serious crisis can a new European ambition be regained?
Notwithstanding the Union’s inherent frailties, Europe needs to regain and rethink its role in the world scenario: its main function is the defence of peace, precisely because of the significance that wars have had in 20th century’s history, most of them fought in European territory. We own to the functionalistic logic the construction of the European integration. It worked well during the Cold War time. Then it has got its ultimate goal: the common currency. From now on it takes something different and more profound.
The Italian Premier Sir Mario Draghi said that in Brussels some days ago: it takes a new intergovernmental conference to go on with the political integration, whose process is at a standstill since 2007. And it takes to do that in a faster way, perhaps starting with those who really want to do that. Nowadays, everything, the economic wealth, the institutions, the potentials, the resources, require a larger vision of our European interests, a more unitary vision, no longer self-centred, but projected into the world. There is need of a new ambition.
Many in the world look at our countries as examples of balanced societies, where the market does not prevail over the welfare (at least in a different way compared to other parts of the world), of multicultural societies, where inclusion begins to establish itself, in a frame of dialogue and mutual exchanges. For instance, the progressive abandonment of Africa is a serious Europe’s. That continent, despite all the differences, is part of our cultural and geographical space: languages, emigration, (partially) religion, history, and many other things unite Africa and Europe. Those neighbours of ours demand an investment of resources and thinking from our side. And the tools to do that are at a hand.
Thus, the mission for Europe is to be a unifying force, a peaceable force, democratic, generator of dialogue, without deleting identities, among different peoples that history has made enemies. Unity in diversity: that is its model, that is its charisma. What has been possible for Europeans, can be possible for other peoples, especially those who are crashed by the burden of a painful memory, which can become a deadly trap.
Besides, that is a necessary step because, if separated, the European countries do not matter at all. In a multipolar world, dominated by emerging economies and new powers, they need to be together in order to exist and to be listened to.