Sunday, May 9, 2010
Happy Europe Day!
We are celebrating Europe and European integration which has tremendously benefitted the citizens in the Member States. Not only is the EU a guarantor of peace, it has also established a strong emotional interconnection of the European citizens compared with the pre-EEC days. It has made traveling across the borders absolutely self-evident for all of us. It has endowed us with a common currency and become a strong, value-based civilian-power force in international relations. Other regional organizations such as ASEAN and the African Union are looking at the EU with envy for the achievements that have been made in the integration of various policy fields. The EU is not only the largest economy in the world but also the largest donor of development aid and the global frontrunner in environmental policy.
While many things can and need to be criticized about the functioning of the EU, we should bear in mind that all of these achievements have created a great international and intercultural project that is unmatched in the world.
Having said that, it is of course necessary to point the finger at the failures of the EU at all times, because it seems that the fleet of Member States drifts away from one another as soon as the slightest breeze comes up. The most worrysome news for me in the last week has certainly been the loss of appreciation for the EU in the United States. Spiegel Online wrote that the incapacity of the EU to handle its crises (ash cloud, Greece) in a swift and consistent manner cause American policy-makers to increasingly shake their heads in disbelief. That should be perceived as a tremendous shame by all governments involved in the process! The Union that has just endorsed the creation of a European External Action Service discards wise and far-sighted coordination measures for short-term gains in regional elections (Angela Merkel in the case of Greece) and short-term economic gains for the airlines (although I agree with Julien Frisch that Eurocontrol handled the information of internet-savvy citizens rather well). Yet, the failure to coordinate more closely is a shame!
A strong navigator is needed, a navigator who focuses his eyes on the horizon while staying in constant communication with all of the vessels, paying attention that the demands of their crew are equally met. It is time this navigator started to emerge.
It so happens that the Euro Model United Nations Conference (EuroMUN) in Maastricht, one of the largest MUNs in Europe, coincided with Europe Day. In the assembly of the European Council, we focused on the hot topic of financial aid for Greece (me filling in as Greece at the last minute) and international speculation. Far-sighted, and with a view to protect the various crews, the Heads of State and Government "condemned" international speculation against the Euro, paved the way for a European Monetary Fund and a tobin tax to finance it and urged the Central Bank to acquire government bonds. I wished that the real European Council would sometimes take these kinds of bold decisions as well...
I would also like to make you aware of an article on my travel blog about recent measures in the US which may seriously impede future high school exchanges into the US (German, English as translated by google).