In the aftermath of the latest attack in London, the Italian capital city is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, which gave birth to the European Union. On this occasion it is perhaps timely to explain to Europeans the benefits and future of the EU. The 27 European leaders have signed a new document that emphasizes the indivisibility of Europe, the European Union and the euro. The text provides for a safe Europe, prosperous, sustainable, social, strong in the international arena. Over the next 10 years we’ll probably have a multi-speed Europe, as was the case for euro and Schengen, but it can lead to a real European Union as a confederation in the form of the United States of Europe.
Tens of thousands have supported the European federalist movement and the movement Forza Europa. In contrast, the Eurostop parade had instead only a few supporters, about a hundred of which have been arrested after the police found metal rods and shields hidden along the projected path.
At the same time, in London, thousands of Remainers gathered in a demonstration to demand that the many rights acquired through the EU are kept. The decision to Brexit was taken following last June’s referendum that registered a slim majority (52 percent) for ‘Leave’. But now the majority of the people in the UK don’t want to lose European citizenship and freedom of movement and employment.
Today British Prime Minister Theresa May sent a letter formally notifying Brussels that Britain plans to leave the bloc. Analysts don’t expect London’s financial sector to evaporate quickly, especially as the shape of the two-year exit negotiation process and the trade-agreement negotiations remained unclear. Sadiq Khan, the city’s mayor, has launched a “London is Open” campaign to remind people that despite Brexit, London remains welcoming to foreigners and businesses alike. But Martin Smith, head of markets analysis at banking market research firm East & Partners, noted some banks were already making contingency plans and moving jobs. Smith said. “In the short term, certainly, we expect to see both retail and business credit growth impacted negatively.” Just yesterday Brexit triggered a vote in the Scottish Parliament: this has toughened its line on a second Scottish independence referendum within the next two years, raising the spectre of Scoxit.
The UK people know that the European Union also funds Universities and inter-University projects facilitating the circulation of ideas and the development of academic research within the 28 member States. For instance, it subsidizes student mobility projects such as Erasmus, the main integration project among the European peoples. Millions of European students have received funding to attend one of the four thousand Universities in the EU and, thanks to these experiences, have formed intereuropean families.
What had begun as an economic community has evolved, over time, into an organization active in many sectors, from climate to the environment, from health to foreign relations, from security to justice and immigration. The European Union is based on the principle of the rule of law: all its powers approve treaties that have been freely and democratically signed by the member States. The EU is also governed according to the principle of representative democracy, through which citizens can directly elect MEPs while the Member States have the space and the opportunity to act within the European Council and the EU Council.
In 2012 the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe, a continent which for centuries has been the scene of fratricidal wars and terrible massacres. Thanks to the single currency and the abolition of border controls among the member States, the citizens can now move freely in most of the continent. The single or “internal” market allowing the free movement of goods, services and capital is EU’s main economic engine and what makes it great in front of superpowers such as the United States, Russia or China.
Even Virginia Raggi, the Mayor of Rome, seems to have realized the relevance of Europe. Citing the importance of the founders of the EU, she has recommended review of the Dublin Regulation, but her speech seemed to betray the spirit of the anti-European Movement 5 Stelle.
Despite what the followers and affiliates of Grillo and Salvini in Europe argue, in Europe we live better than in many other Countries: in the US there are areas where the living conditions are comparable to those of some developing Countries, where education and health are “only for the rich.” Russia is only superficially democratic, while in reality it is governed by a dictator who has silenced opposition, leaving the population fearful of freely expressing itself. Paradoxically, Vladimir Putin gains supporters more easily abroad than in his homeland.
But not only. In many parts of Asia the diseases caused by air and water pollution have caused a decline in life expectancy at birth. In the Arab Countries terrorism is spreading and women and many other social categories have few rights and are discriminated against. Africa is ravaged by wars and natural resource exploitation, rampant poverty and endemic diseases such as malaria and AIDS, without the possibility of treatment. Finally, there is Latin America, where in some places drug trafficking gangs terrorize and intimidate the population.
Maybe this is the reason why Trump’s USA and Putin’s Russia are afraid of our European Union, both because it is their main competitor, from a commercial perspective in Asia and a geopolitical one in the Middle East, and because of its economic strength and the level of well-being in which we live.
Donald Trump has enthusiastically described Brexit as a “great thing, and other Countries will follow.” But Nigel Farage has said he will “go and live abroad” if Brexit is a disaster. The Kremlin, for its part, is literally funding eurosceptic parties, and Le Pen and Salvini warm to the idea of Putin’s support. Their trips to the Kremlin suggest a willingness to bow to the great Putin.
In this regard, the European Parliament denounces Russian propaganda, which is “seeking to distort the truth, instill fear, cause doubts and divide the EU”. “For ten years, the Kremlin has been influencing the European public debate and now the issues which are at its advantage have become mainstream,” writes Alina Polyakova, expert on far-right movements and parties in Europe and columnist for The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. In all this, Islamic terrorism is also doing its part, instilling insecurity and terror. In fact, ISIS is at the service of those who want to conquer and destroy the European Union. Yes, because these people, Farage, Le Pen, Grillo, Salvini, Trump, traitors or opportunists, become involuntary allies to ISIS, because they hit the weakness of democracy: you can dismiss governments for your own personal interest by manipulating the masses by all means available, including social media.
The European Union is not free of errors. Too much bureaucracy, too much waste, too much distance between political power and citizens and excessive austerity obligations to maintain a high financial level to the detriment of the citizens. But, nevertheless, in the last difficult decade we have been protected by instruments such as the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), effective to cope with the great recession in the USA, which was felt much more there than here. The weakest eurozone member States have benefited from it several times.
We thus must move forward and improve, especially in engaging the citizens in the political process. It is thus time to modernize Europe, make it even bigger as it faces the US and Russia. We must revise the Treaties in order to progress towards the United States of Europe. We must show that Europe possesses the world’s largest production capacity. But now the European people must take a stand and defend our State from the attack of Russia, the US and Islamist fundamentalism. If you haven’t understood it yet, we are at war, and the enemies are all those who want to destroy our great and united Country. It does not matter if they were born in Europe, they are infiltrated, or competing powers to our social and economic power. It’s time to defend ourselves, it is time to unite even more.