The European Union has clearly not reached the degree of integration envisioned by its founders. Despite the painstaking efforts of many important leaders over the past 70 years, the bloc has not evolved into the “United States of Europe.” Conflicting interests and the great asymmetry of power among its otherwise “equal members” make it difficult for the EU to become fully integrated, politically and economically.
The consecutive European Council meetings of the past few months and the sight of the 27 leaders of countries separated by significant differences consulting, arguing, negotiating and trying for four days to achieve an agreement – and thus take an important step towards the real integration of their union – is harmful to the prestige of every member-state and of the European Union itself.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ statement – that “we must make compromises, but these compromises must not be such as to alter the level of our ambition in relation to a courageous European response to the coronavirus crisis and its economic impact” – reflects the concern which is developing (or should be developing) not only among the Greeks, but among every true European.
In order for the Union to grow politically, in order to take on real flesh and blood, Brussels needs to clear away many of the bureaucratic obstacles, often of an institutional dimension, impeding its progress. The same is true of the miserable stance often adopted by individual countries, tinged, at times, with a touch of racism.
Is it so difficult to make decisions quickly and decisively? To be guided by the common interest of this large European market, while also taking into account the particularities, weaknesses and needs of each member? Such a process obviously requires compromises. But the situation where we have another crucial meeting almost every month, and where we repeatedly talk about the need to break one more deadlock, cannot continue.
It is inconceivable that in the face of such a deep economic crisis, the EU should appear divided, even though everyone understands that the unprecedented recessionary effects of the pandemic demand bold decisions and actions.
In this light, the EU Recovery Fund should have been agreed on immediately – without the need for months of endless debates and intense clashes, should have already been implemented and should have been safeguarded from personal and national fixations.