This is by far the most serious situation that the European Union has ever experienced. It is under pressure from several crises at the same time – crises so large and important that having to deal with just one of them would be bad enough.
We are now paying the price of non-action:
- Non-action over defence has made us helpless vis-à-vis the so-called ISIS and all other possible threats in our neighbourhood
- Non-action over common border controls (the external borders of Schengen) means we have greater difficulties to deal with the refugee crisis
- Non-action over the completion of the economic union and political integration is keeping the Euro vulnerable and many Europeans unemployed
- Non-action over Prime Minister Orban’s policies in Hungary means we have no way of addressing similar developments in other European countries
What is the solution? To work hard in order to find a way out of the crisis. We have let too many things slide over the past years. The first step is to honestly take stock of where things have gone wrong and where we have been more successful.
A working group could be set up, for example, in order to draw up a plan for the renewal of Europe. But this plan needs to be conceived from the European perspective. It cannot bow to the sensibilities of each and every Member State or each and every institution. It needs to be drawn up and implemented by Europeans and not by country representatives who aim to get the best deal for their country. Just as Paul-Henri Spaak did in his time, it must look at what is necessary in order to reach our goal: an effective Europe in terms of the Single Market, the Euro, defence and borders.
We will, in short, have to change the scale on which Europe operates. This can be done step by step, but we need a clear goal. It will be very difficult. But if we fail on this, Europe will not survive. Our responsibility is huge.