A Swiss view of 50 years of the EU

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A Swiss view of 50 years of the EU

A Swiss view of 50 years of the EU
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Pil Crauer is a Swiss German author and poet. A long time contributor to EuroNews, he divides his time between Lucerne in Switzerland and Provence in France. Fifty years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome. We wanted his views on Europe, as a European intellectual, but not an EU citizen. He believes that a formal European constitution is not necessary and the question of institutional reform has been around for a long time.

Pil Crauer: “We knew, we had to have rules on how decisions were to be taken when the EU had twelve member states or fifteen. We knew about the need for reforms: that emerged during the German EU presidency, and then during the French EU presidency, but during their presidencies, those two countries were more focused on their internal politics than on this important question. And now, since we don’t have a formal constitution, when it comes to making important decisions on Europe in Europe, the EU, ends up being tugged along by the latest pronouncements from the Kaczynski twins in Poland, or by the Polish Catholic radio station Radio Maria, or by the Pentagon.”

EuroNews: “You’ve said that Europe doesn’t speak with one voice, I take it you’re referring to foreign policy.”

Crauer: “We find ourselves now in a situation where Europe sometimes appears rather ridiculous, in terms of policy. For example, Italy under Berlusconi, Spain under Aznar, their policies were rather pro-Washington, and of course there’s Blair’s Britain. And the Eastern Europe countries tended to follow the same line. I think that there was a big misunderstanding: Eastern Europe didn’t want to be part of the European Union, they wanted to be part of the United States of America. Naturally they take European aid funds, but then, as we see, they use that money, like Poland for example, to buy US planes.”

EuroNews: “There are two particularly important moments in the history of the European Union: the Treaty of Rome and then when the countries of Eastern Europe joined the EU. The European reunification wasn’t simply a misunderstanding.”

Crauer: “Of course, the return of those Eastern European countries wasn’t a misunderstanding. For example, Hungary: it is an absolutely European country, its Parliament held all their debates in Latin until 1918, you can’t imagine a more European country. But the things we believed were not explained to them, and there was insufficient preparation for them joining. It should be clearly stated that Europe, the European Union, hands out a lot of money there or pays for necessary developments: and in some way has lost sight of the practical approach there. And so I think that there are urgent and fundamental decisions to be taken, and we shouldn’t be depending on non-European decision makers when regulating European problems. That’s what I want to say, and I’m concerned: I’m not saying its bad, is not that Europe is bad. It is that unfortunately there’s a failed policy on these things.”

EuroNews: “We have already said that for the EU it’s particularly difficult to follow a European foreign policy, for Europe to find its real role in the world: some of the problems seem to be stemming from a radicalisation of a particular debate.

Crauer: “I think you’re talking particularly about terrorism: and to be fair, on this topic, that doesn’t depend so much on what is decided in Brussels, but rather on the attitude of individual Europeans. And I am certainly concerned seeing the religious fanaticism, that generates much of the terrorism in the world. We don’t have a properly thought out answer to that question. What we’ve seen is that in recent years the religious authorities in Europe have become more influential and this concerns me. And not only do we not have a proper answer to religious extremism instead of dialogue we are simply stressing our European way, saying ‘We’re Europeans and our way of doing things is better.’”

EuroNews: “Coming back to the Treaty of Rome: it was a beginning, that’s clear: a difficult beginning, at a difficult time. The second world war had recently ended, the dead were still being counted, but looking at it today: was it finally just a dream?”

Crauer: “Europe destroyed itself with those odious wars. And you really couldn’t explain to people why they should want to shoot at each other, without first turning them into fanatics. Since we are so similar and Europe is so small, the European Union was an absolute necessity: I don’t think that it was a dream, or a romantic idea. It was necessary, and today we need turn it into something real and practical, that produces results, so we can make decisions, not about everything, but on the important European questions.”