In Search of Europe: An interview with Jacques Delors

151_3781 In the wake of questions about Europe's future and the viability of the EU, in Eurozine:

I do not believe that nations should disappear nor do I believe in the prevailing wisdom that economic and monetary union can bring about political union, especially since the political forum continues to be the nation, and the best service one can render it from a democratic point of view is to respect the democratic structures within the framework of the nation-state. Therefore, I am in favour of a federation of nation-states. I am not asking the Germans and the French to give up being what they are, but I am saying to them: consider, in the real world, both your shared values and your shared interests. But, even if Europe does have these shared values, the nation is still an element of belonging that must be neither neglected nor given too much importance. We each have our own attachment to our national heritage. I am all the more inclined to say this because, as Freud said, we are nowadays fixated on small differences: Serbia and Montenegro, Flanders and Wallonia, Northern Ireland and the Republic; these are the things that we must fight against, not by preventing the existence of distinguishing features, but by saying to people: “Where does that get you?” Simultaneously, there are those values that lead us towards some form of convergence and, on the other side, moods of the times that urge us to create painful divisions. We have not heard the last of such divisions. And why is that? Because there is a malaise among people who are living through our times. They are frightened by globalization and, at the same time, attached to their territory, where they have attachments that are familial, geographical or otherwise. Between globalization on one side and local attachments on the other, the nation can no longer arrive at any kind of synthesis other than by exacerbating nationalism, and this can be seen in many European countries. Refusal of globalization, claiming that it is absolutely inimical, will not offer any solution either. Only by building a Europe that is a federation of nations can we find a response to this malaise, a response to the turmoil caused by globalization, a response that pays due respect to familial and geographical attachments; this is the way to create an equilibrium between globalization and the sovereign state that is prepared to delegate certain powers, by creating a strong and influential structure.

The reality is that, by building Europe, we have, it seems to me, a system that is ahead of the rest of the world. This is what we have to make our citizens realize. But our politicians see only the short term and the shifts in public opinion. As a result, there are two factors that are missing: awareness of our shared values and the challenge that Europe has to face. These two factors are a matter of survival or decline in the face of globalization and the kind of nationalism that is obsessed with minor differences. And this challenge is one that has to be faced by the strongest European power: Germany.

Germany is, in any case, in an extraordinary position. Never before has it been the lead nation in Europe to the extent that it is today. Previously, it accepted compromises and therefore concessions because of its past and also because of the political intelligence of Konrad Adenauer, Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl, which I will never tire of praising. But today Germany holds the leadership. Does it realize this?