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What has become of Europe?

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What has become of Europe?


In this edition of U-talk, Marcel from Brussels asked: “What is Europe? I understand that it was founded to prevent wars in the countries of Europe, it was a great symbol, but now what has it become? Is it not a vast machine where nobody can understand anything, and the dream is gone.”

Pascal Delwit, Professor of Political Science at the Free University of Brussels responded:

“You are right, Europe, what is commonly called Europe today – and more correctly the European Union – is something very different from what existed at the beginning.

“In the 1950s, there were two important elements in the creation of the European Communities – the European Community for Coal and Steel, and later, the European Organisation for Atomic Energy and the Common Market. And during this period, all in the wake of the Second World War and the attempt to try to create peaceful relations between States that avoid a new war in the future.

“The second thing was to reintegrate Germany into Western Europe in the Cold War context. Originally it was a smaller Europe in terms of the number of states, since there were only six Member States in the Union. So obviously, if we now look at it more than half a century later it is quite different.

“A European Union of 27 Member States with skills significantly expanded, a number of state powers that have been transferred, for example the classical power of economic competition and management, today many states have adopted the euro as their currency and the currency is managed by the European Central Bank.

“So for sure it is different, as everything is different, times have changed significantly and even with just 27 Member States it is much harder to read, understand and grasp as an operation.

“The European Union has been constructed over time, its institutional framework is not the same as that of the United States even though sometimes there are similarities. Member states have transferred a number of prerogatives. Sometimes there are almost exclusive prerogatives: the common agricultural policy, or trade policy, and shared powers.

“The big question today in the context of the economic crisis is; are we going towards separation, a return to individual states? Or is it beneficial and do we use this crisis as a lever to transfer new powers to the EU and then to think from a federal point of view?”

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