18 June 2003

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Europe’s date with destiny

President Guido de Marco last weekend addressed the Wider, deeper stronger, conference on EU enlargement at London’s House opf Commons. Following are extracts from his speech.

A British parliamentarian, who straddled both the House of Commons and the Commission in Brussels in an essay written in 1988, put the question:
"Should politicians know history?"
The politician was Roy Jenkins. His answer was positive but qualified ‘with suitable caution and reservation’. Roy Jenkins had this to say in conclusion:
"What I really believe is that those with curiosity, whatever their educational and occupational backgrounds, are bound to have interest in and acquire some knowledge about the past; and that those without it are likely to be dull men and uncomprehending rulers."
It is with this frame of mind that I am addressing you on Europe’s date with destiny: the political will for a wider, deeper and stronger Europe and within the context of the enlargement of the European Union due to take place on the 1st of May 2004.
I spent an important part of my political life nourishing the vision of my country becoming a Member of the European Union; believing, as I do, that Malta can play a role in a Europe, which has reinvented itself with the end of the Cold War. On 1st of May 2004 Malta will become the southernmost country of the European Union.
I was always very sensitive to our geo-political realities – we seek not only stability in European Union membership but also to be a bridge between Europe and our southern Mediterranean neighbours. These thoughts accompanied me when on July 16th 1990, as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, I applied for Malta to join the then European Community. Few months before, the Wall of Berlin was brought down and presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev had met in Malta where, in the words of Edward Schevardnadze, they buried the cold war.
But in spite of this positive political climate, when Malta applied to join the European Union, there were two Europes, two Germanies, two superpowers. Of the nations joining the European Union next year, at the time when Malta applied to become a Member State, four were Warsaw Pact Members, three were an integral part of the Soviet Union and one formed part of a Communist Federal Republic. Cyprus and Malta were active participants in the Non-Aligned Movement.
The reality of history has made of ideologies and iron curtains, shadows of the past, hurdles of yesterday.
And so Europe heads to its date with destiny for as Willy Brandt had said:
‘That which belongs together, grows together’.
And what a destiny this growing together of Europe is! It is not by hegemony or coercion that this union is realising itself, but by sheer political determination and availability; by the creation of common institutions and the belief that together we can venture into territories that are otherwise unreachable with individual country capabilities; through the process of joint decision making and the logic of persuasion; through the willingness of the peoples of Europe to work together, notwithstanding the unique historical and cultural physiognomy of every people. For there is unity in diversity and this is the Europe of values and of cultures. In April 1952 during his visit to Washington, Jean Monnet one of the fathers of the European Union stated:
‘We do not merge countries, we unite peoples’
At the heart of this project is the concept of the sharing of sovereignty – members do not give up their sovereignty but rather they share it in specific areas. And in so doing they are actually fortifying their individual sovereignty for they are more able to defend themselves and advance their interests.
Addressing himself to French realities, Jacques Delors wrote:
"France will grow in stature by means of Europe, as Europe, a group of middle ranking nations, asserts itself as a first ranking power."
To these middle ranking nations, small nations like mine are adhering, bringing together the reality of individual nations forming part of a greater home. We are today reaping the advantages and the benefits from the vision of great Europeans. Here in the House of Commons one can quote from the lecture given by that great Commoner, Sir Winston Churchill. In 1946 in his landmark speech at the University of Zurich, when the dust of war had hardly settled down, he had the courage to say:
‘I am now going to say something that will astonish you. The first step in the re-creation of the European family must be a partnership between France and Germany.’
Two years later, the Hague Congress was called. A spring of new hopes followed possibly by a letdown of a premature ideal. The spirit of the Hague Congress is best remembered in Jean-Pierre Gouze’s book ‘Les Pionniers de l’Europe Communautaire’.
"Ah how beautiful was the Europe of Europeans in that fine month of May 1948! How proudly they waved against the sky of Holland, those flags of unity proclaimed and of the ancient nations represented there. How close at hand the Europe for which they had voted so ardently seemed to so many of the delegates!".
The Europe that is emerging is one, which with the Treaty of Rome at its base, has progressed through trials and errors, through experiments, moving from a Common Market to a Single Market, reaching out from frontiers to sign posts, slowly converging towards a single currency and building a Common Foreign and Security Policy.
For the first time in many centuries there is a great sense of unity in Europe. The two headed eagle recognisable in the Empire of Byzantium and later taken up both by Russia and by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, tries to give a visual, even if perhaps a monstrous expression, of two worlds east and west looking at different directions yet belonging to the same body. Now there is a new concept — no two-headed eagle but the movement of Europeans, from north and south, east and west bringing together, economically, socially and politically a unity in diversity between nations sharing their sovereignty, having citizens loyal to their nation state but equally building up a loyalty towards a common European belongingness.
This Europe is working towards giving itself a written constitution. Some may ask why a written constitution, the more so here in the mother of parliaments where an unwritten constitution has helped the evolution of democracy and a tenacious belief in freedom unsurpassed in history. But I can understand this movement of opinion for a Constitution of Europe, trying to identify the areas of commonality, adherence to the principle of subsidiarity and at the same time ensuring that it be not a union of bureaucrats deciding for citizens who are unaware of the bureaucrats existence. Indeed the whole spirit of the Constitution of Europe should be that of returning Europe to the people.
There is always a temptation to fall into rhetoric in speaking about ideas and ideals. But it is not rhetoric when Europe through its Single Market tries to ensure a stronger economic reality for Europe. This economic reality must be inspired by a social market adherence, ensuring not prosperity for some at the expense of loss of employment for many, but the principles of a welfare society based on social justice.
A Common Foreign and Security Policy will evolve through a Minister of Foreign Affairs for Europe with such a policy being mainly the result of consultations and decisions taken together. This will not prove to be an easy task. Indeed may I also remark that whilst we speak about a Single Market and a Single Currency, we do not speak of a Single Foreign and Security Policy but the emphasis is on a Common Foreign and Security Policy. We may find ourselves, indeed we will find ourselves, in difficulties as this Common Foreign and Security Policy will emerge. But it is through the experiences in this field, of working together, through the logic of persuasion, through new bonds being created by different countries building up one Europe, that we can achieve a Common Foreign and Security Policy.
We will also gain by our different geographical locations. Britain, France, Spain and Portugal will help to consolidate our transatlantic dimension, Germany and the Central European powers will consolidate Continental Europe, whilst the Nordic countries, the Baltic Republics, Poland and Hungary will reach out towards the Russian Federation, and the Caucasus creating a greater awareness of Europe’s eastern dimension.
Then there is the Mediterranean. Jacques Delors way back in 1992 in an article in ‘Le Monde’ had this to say:
"There is a country one forgets, but which is very important as a symbol: Malta. We must not displace Europe too much to the North while forgetting the South, we would risk losing our sensitivity to the Mediterranean world, which is our world, but at present emulates the dangers for the future of all of us."
More than ten years have passed since Jacques Delors wrote this and if anything, the risk of losing the sensitivity to the Mediterranean world is even more present. It is here indeed where we the Mediterranean countries of Europe can bring a much-needed dimension towards the Mediterranean world. There is a tendency to identify present events with scarce attention and relevance to the cause thereof in dealing with Mediterranean issues. In such cases, countries like mine, I believe, can bring an effective and added contribution to the role of Europe.
I have said that the main purpose of the Constitution for Europe should be that of returning Europe to the people. This can be done through a dual approach. On the one hand we have to ensure and give the right answer to the sensitive question of national identities and their historical and cultural traditions. This applies with particular reference to countries that have achieved their sovereignty lost through a totalitarian belongingness to the Soviet block as well as through colonial rule. These nations in joining Europe, want to reassert their national identity, their history long submerged. They want to rebuild, through the reassertion of their sovereignty, a link of equality within the wider concept of a European family, the vivid realisation of a ‘maison commune’.
The reply to this sensitive question is not in contradiction with an equally strong will towards an emerging European identity and towards a common European citizenship. A fundamental challenge to the Convention is not only in creating the right equilibrium between a national identity and a European one, but also on the division of competences between the European Union and the Member States.
We have to strive and ensure the emergence of a united Europe, rich in its heritage of ideals, in its mission for progress, in its belief in fundamental freedoms and social justice. This is not starry-eyed idealism. All great strides of mankind have been achieved by hitching man’s wagon to a star. This is what we are trying to do in Europe and for Europe.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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