Zum Inhalt springen

A New Narrative for the EU? European Education – “Peace” still counts

This post by me is cross-posted from OneEurope. The original post can be found here.

It has been pointed out that people think peace in Europe is just taken for granted. The European citizens enjoy the freedom provided by the EU but they do not honour the EU for this freedom and all the benefits. No matter what happened in recent decades, be it further enlargement, the introduction of the Euro or the Nobel Peace Prize for the EU, nothing really enchanted the citizens of the EU.

Bearing in mind that when the European integration process started, back in the 50s, the European Union was initialized by men who had experienced war; a normal status between European nations. To fight for peace on the European continent was a huge goal after centuries of destruction. Today we lack such a big aim for the coming decades. The daily European business is determined by regulations of the single market, the fight against the financial crisis and a commitment for green energy and better job markets. But even the biggest challenges of the 21st century like migration, fighting worldwide poverty, building a social Europe or combating international terrorism does not produce a new European vision shared by all citizens.

I am not sure whether those positions are completely right. It goes without saying that it is almost unthinkable that European countries could go to war again. This idea of peace could be taken for granted. But it does not mean that peace has no value any more or that people do not appreciate it. Maybe they forget in their daily life what it really means to live in a peaceful Europe. And that is why peace is still a big issue in European education – at least it should be one. We should never forget what it means to have peace in Europe.

European education today shall include many different aspects – economic and political perspectives, a cultural approach, the social dimension, the European Union in the globalized world or the development of European citizenship. All those issues focus on the European future and how we want to live and construct our European Union. It would be a mistake to forget about the past. If we do not know where we come from, we might forget why we should walk the European way into the future.

Surprisingly peace is not at all that insignificant within the younger generation in Europe as it is said by those who demand a new European narrative. Discussing Europe with the young people almost always leads to important points like human rights, democracy and peace. The young people are much more aware of the long-term achievement of the European project than people guess. The problem is that they do not connect the peace in Europe with the European integration process. Peace on the one hand is highly ranked in the needs of young people, on the other hand the responsibility of Europe is not seen. Therefore we need to implement in every European education the aspect of the achieved absence of war because of the European Union.

People have to be aware that they experience the longest period in European history throughout centuries without conflict and war because we work together in a family of European member states. Maybe we need a new narrative to make the EU more appealing and to get more commitment from the citizens towards the EU but we still need the education about the past and the focus on the achieved peace on our continent.

Maybe we do not need to change the European narrative at all. Maybe peace is exactly the strong background on which the EU can prosper and develop to become a true Europe of citizens. I believe if you ask people sitting right now on the cold Maidan square in Kiev what their European dream is, they surely will talk about peace, democracy and freedom. Citizens in the old member states may be too lazy for European commitment. But I would rather think that the current construction of the EU is what is in bad shape and not appreciated by the citizens – peace and corresponding issues like democracy and freedom still count very much. Let us not forget about it.

Published inDemocracy & Human RightsEuropean Union

Ein Kommentar

  1. Iwantout Iwantout

    Peace, freedom and democracy are held up as the direct results of the EU.

    Peace – We are all theoretically liberal democracies, there is no example in history of such states attacking each other. Until the end of the Cold War, NATO and particularly the US guaranteed our peace not the EU. Now only France and the UK spend significant sums on defence and the remainder of the EU appears to be content to rely on their willingness to pay in both cash and blood. The EU is a symptom of peace, not a cause.

    Freedom – The UK was a free country a very long time before the EU came into existence. Indeed according to opinion polls a majority of us regard the EU as restricting our freedoms rather than enhancing or protecting them. Until we joined the EU we were free to make our own laws, dispense our own justice and determine our own actions. Now these freedoms are no longer open to us and as Martin Schulz says, 70% of our laws originate from Brussels.

    Democracy – Absolutely, so long as you don’t look at it too closely or give the wrong answer. Larger states (Germany, France, Italy, UK etc) are significantly underrepresented in terms of the number of MEPs for the size of their population and their voting weight in the qualified majority voting mechanism while the smaller states are massively over represented. It is a strange form of democracy when some votes are 14 times as powerful as others. Then of course there is the refusal of states and the EU to accept negative referenda results, to the extent that they now make manic efforts to avoid offering them.

    Why not put these values of freedom and democracy to the test? Ask the people whether they want to be part of a federal state, setting out exactly what that means in terms of the division of power between the EU, nations and regions and then accept the result? It is strange that such a ‘democratic’ structure repeatedly refuses to discuss in detail the ultimate aim of the ‘project’, how it will look and absolutely never ever asks the ordinary people of their view on this central point. A refusal to listen to the people inevitably leads to conflict and distain for the political elite who talk but are deaf.

    Still we have the EP elections in May, probably with yet a another all-time low engagement by the electors, almost certainly a massive increase in Eurosceptic representatives but the only realistic runners for Commission President are enthusiastic federalists. You can vote but only when it does not make a difference.

Go on and comment...