The European Union has reached a crucial point. It is
undertaking two of its most ambitious projects: monetary
union and eastward enlargement.
While the member Governments and the Union's institutions
are absorbed in these vital tasks, several new dangers
face them. One is what might be called the "morning
after" effect of both EMU and enlargement. A second
is that Europe may seem to be losing impetus and raison
d'être because it has failed to build the political
union implied by Maastricht when agreeing on EMU, and
therefore has developed no leadership role in world
affairs. But political union requires democratic legitimacy.
Many of the Union's citizens feel out of touch with
a Europe that seems unable to tackle problems they see
as more urgent than either EMU or enlargement. Moreover
there is a widespread impression that Europe has no
common political culture and no shared European causes.
to Reports Index
1.The morning after
Both EMU and enlargement will profoundly change the
EMU will enhance economic dynamism in the single market,
but also expose regional disparities, uncompetitive
enterprises and inefficient institutions. It will make
a new relationship with the US dollar both possible
and necessary. Enlargement will necessitate reform of
the Union's institutions as well as its regional, social,
and agricultural policies. It will also require huge
changes in the political and economic culture of the
new member states in Central Europe.
The context in which the Union was founded has also
greatly changed. Its original aims were broadly four:
to prevent war among former enemies, notably France
and Germany; to combat protectionism in Europe and prevent
economic warfare; to help European nations to recover
collectively the power and influence - the "sovereignty"
- they lost individually when they were dwarfed by the
super-powers; and to link them in a system of laws and
democratic institutions comparable to those that link
fellow citizens within a nation-state.
Today, war among the Union's member States has become
as unthinkable as its founders planned. With the Single
Market, protectionist pressures have shifted from customs
tariffs to other means of action, including - until
EMU - competitive devaluation. Where there were once
two super-powers there is now only one. However the
risk of global war has been replaced by the reality
of regional and civil conflict, on and even within Europe's
borders and towards which Europe appears incapable of
acting as a coherent power. The Union has established
rules and institutions that transcend the nation-state;
but they suffer from an absence of popular legitimacy,
and are increasingly questioned by those who seek to
define them in a constitution.
Political union is unthinkable without democratic legitimacy.
Such democratic legitimacy will not simply be achieved
by making European institutions elected ones. The decisive
prerequisite for a viable democracy at any level, be
it local, regional, national or European, is lively
debate between well-informed electors and elected, in
short, a political community based on consensus on shared
3. Shared causes
Many of Europe's citizens regard the Union as remote,
bureaucratic, and irrelevant to urgent current problems.
At home, they face unemployment, job insecurity, rising
crime, drugs, the development of a largely inner city
underclass of virtual unemployables, and the contrasting
threats of recession and low wage competition. Abroad,
they have seen Europe's impotence in Bosnia and Kosovo,
its divisions over the Middle East, its inability to
take firm concerted action when needed, and its dependence
on the United States. A recent report to the US Congress
suggests that within five years some Middle east and
Asian powers will have a ballistic missile capacity
to strike all parts of Europe.
For all these reasons, Europe needs new impetus - to
solve its current and future problems, to rethink its
strategic objectives and structure, and to re-establish
mutual understanding between its citizens and its political
Europe needs to overcome the widespread cliché
that it lacks a common culture, a common sense of vision,
a common consciousness of shared causes and responsibilities.
The challenge is to rediscover all these so as to progress
towards a true European community. European culture
in its broadest sense is not unthinkable. Some of the
greatest Europeans have expressed it clearly.
"If we drew the balance today of our mental property,
we would find that most of it does not spring from our
nations respectively, but from the common European fund.
In all of us the European by Far dominates the German,
Spaniard, Frenchman. Four fifths of our inner possessions
are European common heritage." [Jose Ortega y Gasset]
"Il n'y pas l'histoire de France. Il y a l'histoire
de l'Europe". [Marc Bloch]
"When a Virgil, a Dante, a Shakespeare, a Goethe
are born, that will determine the future course of the
entire development of European literature." [T.S.
"Europe is the fountain of Christian faith and
Christian ethics. It is the origin of most of the culture,
arts, philosophy and science both of ancient and modern
times. If Europe were once united in the sharing of
its common inheritance, there would be no limit to the
happiness, the prosperity and glory which its three
or four hundred million people would enjoy." [Winston
Churchill in his 1946 Zurich speech]
These quotations do not refer only to a glorious past.
The cultures of Europe reside not only in its museums.
On the contrary, the "mental property" and
"inner possessions" of Europeans (to use Ortega
y Gasset's words) are Europe's real riches, more important
than mere physical artefacts. They are the basis of
a civilization which transcends today's political boundaries.
The challenge today is to put such "inner
possessions" to work. That means to rally Europeans
to shared causes such as:
- rekindling awareness of Europe's
- preserving the freedom of thought,
nurturing the sources of artistic creativity, and
encouraging the spirit of enterprise
- promoting the spread of democracy
to all parts of the world as a strategy for peace
- defending human rights and human
dignity wherever they are threatened
- maintaining an open international
economic and trading system as a key to worldwide
- working for the environmental equilibrium
of the globe
- continuing Europe's pioneering postwar
endeavour to combine emotional attachment to their
local, national or religious communities with the
rational objective of transnational integration, and
promoting it as a model for peace for the XXI century.
Contrary to prevailing
opinion, shared causes such as these are alive in the
minds of today's Europeans. This was shown unexpectedly
and forcefully by the series of peaceful revolutions
in eastern and central Europe leading up to the momentous
change in 1989.
Another example was the surprisingly unanimous response
to the atrocities in Bosnia and now Kosovo. It is encouraging
that, at least during the crucial period of intervention
in Bosnia, this public response swept away the entrenched
foreign policy patterns in European capitals inherited
from the traditional alignments of Balkan politics before
the First World War.
The reassessment of Europe's long-term
objectives and structure will involve considering the
new meaning of nationality, the implications of more
open frontiers, the need to overcome social and linguistic
barriers, and a sense of responsibility more widely
shared. To bridge the gap between the European Union
and its citizens, the Union will need to address their
concerns more directly, vigorously and effectively,
while Europeans themselves need to learn more about
each other and about the Union that is being built.
What practical steps can we take to
win public support for Europe's culture of shared causes?
The fundamental answers lie in education
European nation states were promoted
by national universal education. The European Commission
has no major educational department, whereas national
Ministries of Education are huge employers and powerful
- Should the Commission seek to be
more concerned with European education? If not the
Commission, should another body pursue this aim?
- Should the development of European
history curricula be encouraged?
- Should more be done to promote early
- Could exchange programmes be intensified?
- What other initiatives could be taken?
National education systems need not
wait for European prodding. Any or all could initiate
primary-level language teaching: some already have.
European history and geography syllabuses and the establishment
of websites and interactive computer programmes can
transcend national frontiers.
- Should one or more member governments
take up the challenge?
- Would such action provoke hostility
Private initiatives, as the USA
has shown, can be crucial in initiating action.
- Could more comprehensive scholarship
systems be established in Europe (e.g. Rhodes Scholarships)
in addition to the Erasmus Program of University student
- Could national television and/or
radio stations, public or private, promote European
education in a more effective way?
- Could publishers be persuaded to
extend joint action notably by facilitating translations
(as already encouraged by France)?
- Could travel agencies and tour operators
be induced to include in their itineraries or literature
more information about the countries they visit?
Fiscal allocations and incentives
for private funding of the arts and sciences should
be enhanced throughout Europe to the level of the USA,
if Europe as a whole is to keep pace with America's
vibrant cultural, academic, scientific and hence economic
The European Union is equipping itself to be better
informed about international affairs. The appointment
of a European foreign policy and security adviser may
provide an opportunity to establish a crisis prediction
How can we replace the historically and culturally conditioned
reflexes of national foreign policies with one designed
to meet the strategic needs and duties of Europe as
Many other issues, closer to daily life than foreign
and security policy can be tackled only by concerted
Pollution cannot be stopped by national frontiers. Terrorists,
drug dealers and international criminals cannot be allowed
to shelter in other European countries. Illegal immigrants
cannot be allowed to take advantage of ill-coordinated
For the European Union to meet these responsibilities
its institutions must be more representative and directly
answerable to the public. At the same time its actions
need the backing of a public convinced that they are
legitimate common concerns. Yet Europe's citizens at
present get their news, information and opinions primarily
from national sources television, the press, governments
- and only rarely from other countries or from the European
- Are there practical ways of
broadening the horizons of Europe's citizens beyond
- What success have European
media had and what lessons can their experience provide?
- More specifically, would any
news agencies be prepared to carry European commentaries?
- Is there any scope for syndicated
European articles in the European national newspapers
to show how other European
nationals feel, and convey a consistent flow of material
to a progressively better informed European public
The Council on European Responsibilities
has been created to provide a centre for reflection
on these and other subjects.
The Europe of today is changing from an interstate system
governed by the balance of power into a multistate society
governed by the rule of law and based upon the ideal
of democracy. Nevertheless, it is a Europe of common
rules but not yet common principles. A political culture
remains to be created. At the same time, Europeans face
urgent responsibilities, which are both internal, towards
one another, and external, towards the rest of the world.
The role of COEUR is to act as a "continuous conference"
(to employ the term used by the founders of the Council
on Foreign Relations in the USA) bringing men and women
of experience and influence together from all quarters
of Europe, and all disciplines. to create and stimulate
thought on the nature, requirements and duties of European
society, and to encourage the necessary culture of shared
COEUR seeks both to inform and encourage public debate
and also to cooperate with political institutions. To
be effective, this means developing a dialogue with
the institutions of the European Union, including the
European Council whose specific role is to provide the
Union with the necessary impetus for its development
as well as defining its general political guidelines.
In the short term (news and information) as in the long
term (education), the basic cultural challenge is to
create a European awareness and sense of solidarity
and purpose to match and assist the growth, deepening
and enlargement of the European Union. Out of the complex
reality of European society the aim will be to distil
values, which transcend national boundaries.
If we fail to do this, the European vision will fade
into remoteness from Europe's citizens. That in turn
would provoke a new "crise de la conscience européenne",
calling into question all that has been achieved so