domenica 10 novembre 2013

Enrique Baron Crespo: The European Union

The European Union, weaver of peace. Costa Rica 17/10/13 Enrique Barón Crespo This conference comes as the result of a conversation with your Rector, my good friend Francisco Rojas Aravena. The main topic was the situation of Europe in 1914, the year of the beginning of the 1st World War, a conflict that most Europeans still call the Great War, la “Grande Guerre”. A continental civil war that unleashed destruction and havoc until 1945 with the 2nd World War. As a consequence of this inhuman conflict, almost 100 million human beings died all over the world. Most of them were civilians. For Europe, it represented a human, political and economic suicide. Since then, History has shifted in a radical way. The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 was awarded to the European Union (EU) "for having over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe". My purpose is to explain that this change was possible thanks to a patient and lasting work of political weaving of the peace banner. As you surely know, weaving and cultivating were two founding activities that triggered the creation of settled human societies. Both of them require skills and perseverance. Europe has lived most of its History fighting internal wars, while its successive leaders have claimed their right to be worshipped as peacemakers of their respective time. The ruling Emperor, King, or Dictator sacralized it as the Pax Romana, Pax Imperialis, Pax Hispanica, Pax Gallica, Pax Britannica, Pax Germanica, the Reich of Thousand years…and so on. The only form of peace from ancient times that has survived through the ages is the invention of the Olympic Games that took place during regular periods of peace, the Sacred Truces among Classical Greeks. Greek Mythology is useful to demonstrate the importance of weaving for peace. In the great narrative of Homer, poet among poets, the goddess of wisdom Palas Athena incarnates the art of weaving and the right to a just warfare by holding a spear in her right hand and a spindle in the left. Her main contender was Ares, the god of cruel war. This might explain why, besides her appearance of justice, Athena punished the mortal Arachné because her work of tapestry mainly depicted how the Gods mistreated and abused mortals. The theme was Zeus' rape of the nymph Europe. This story inspired Velázquez to paint “Las hilanderas” (“the philanderers”), where he depicted the moment in which Palas Athenea became aware that Arachne’s crafting had become much better than hers. Growing jealous about her weaving skills, the goddess’s rage pushed her to destroy her artwork, beating her with the shuttle of the loom she would use to weave. Arachne couldn’t take such a humiliation, and hanged herself . Athena felt merciful, biding her life by using Hecate's potion, which turned Arachné into a spider, and cursed all her descendents to weave until the end of time. Today, Latin languages use Aracne’s name for the spider: araña, aranha, araignée, and ragno. Athena also protected Ulysses and Penelope, the queen that weaved and undated a burial shroud. But now, let me come back to my first words, in order to exemplify how walking on this tightrope has been the most common situation for European leaders through history, as it happened after the World War I. As did the Greeks, the founding fathers of the European Union also shared the experience of carefully threading between the spider-web of war and the tapestry of peace. This was the case of Jean Monnet, prominent founding father of the EU and first President of the High Authority of the European Community for Coal and Steel (ECSC). A young seller of cognac in 1914, he convinced, the Prime Minister of France, Rene Viviani, of the necessity of launching a great logistic operation of overseas mass transportation of weapons and means from the United States to Europe. He repeated it in the Second World War. In 1918, the Victory of the Allies was symbolically enforced through the Treaty of Versailles, in which Woodrow Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd George (the peacemakers, as Margaret McMillan called them in her brilliant essay) sketched out on paper the new world order that would emerge after the war. The 14 points proposed by the American president Wilson subsequently led to the creation of the Society of Nations, although without the participation of the US. The principle of self-determination also changed the whole map of Europe, triggering the implosion of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. This Treaty was signed in the same palace in which the victorious Kanzler Bismarck crowned the Kaiser of the unified Reich in 1870, after a Franco-German war whose pretext was the succession to throne of Spain – a continental rant that highlights the undeniable interdependencies that shape Europe from the inside, now and them. The then-defeated Germany was condemned to pay “impossible war reparations”, as John Maynard Keynes rightly defined them when he resigned from the Committee and wrote “The economic consequences of Peace”. Jean Monnet was Deputy Secretary General of the League of Nations after the war. He fully understood the necessity of multilateral institutions and the need to unify a continent to sustain growth and pave the way for European economic and social prosperity. As he wrote in Algiers, in 1943: “There will be no peace in Europe, if the states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty... The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation”. In the aftermath of the War, on the global stage, both the creation of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945 and the adoption Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 represented a major change. The great violinist and humanist Yehudi Menuhin played in both events. He said that ”Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a new set of values and attitudes to replace the culture of war which, for centuries. As Chairman of the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, I follow his mission with a dedicated team, bringing Art to the schools. In 1948, the Congress of the European Movement was hold in the half devastated city of The Hague with the attendance and participation of political, business and social leaders of the whole continent. Present at the meeting were Konrad Adenauer, Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan, François Mitterrand, Paul-Henri Spaak, Salvador de Madariaga and Altiero Spinelli. They took an active role in the congress, whose major outcome on the eyes of History was the call for a political, economic and monetary Union of Europe. Sir Winston Churchill shortly briefed it in the following terms: “The Movement for European Unity must be a positive force, deriving its strength from our sense of common spiritual values. It is a dynamic expression of democratic faith based upon moral conceptions and inspired by a sense of mission. In the centre of our movement stands the idea of a Charter of Human Rights, guarded by freedom and sustained by law. It is impossible to separate economics and defence from the general political structure. Mutual aid in the economic field and joint military defence must inevitably be accompanied step by step with a parallel policy of closer political unity”. But the process did not generate peacemeal progress through drafting a political constitution. The next step proved to be the reading of the Declaration of the 9th of May 1950 by the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, which led to the creation of what is now the European Union:”World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organised and living Europe can bring to civilisation is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war. Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries. With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point: It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organisation open to the participation of the other countries of Europe.” Robert Schuman himself was a living incarnation of Europe’s complexity. A secular monk of ascetic character. Born in Luxembourg, he became lawyer in Germany and was enrolled by force as german soldier in the 1st World War, becoming French after the liberation of Lorraine. Other fathers were also living examples of how borders and factions are blurry concepts in Europe. The Italian Alcide de Gasperi held a seat in the Austro-Hungarian Empire Parliament, while Konrad Adenauer was in prison under the Nazis. Shortly after, the Treaty of Paris in 1951 –deeply inspired by Schuman’s declaration - was crafted by Jean Monnet and his team, including politicians of the six founding Member States that negotiated and signed it: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Great Britain, who had played a key role to incline the balance of the outcome in both the World Wars preferred to experience its glorious imperial decadence at its most, forging an Atlantic privileged relationship. This existential process is still going on. Skimming through the content of the Treaty, it is not hard to grasp an evident disproportion between the opening broad statement about World peace and the concrete proposal of creating a sectorial common market. Nevertheless, one must not ignore that back then, coal and steel were the main raw materials consumed to produce weapons massively. At the same time, the Treaty creates the basic structure of the current EU (the High Authority now is Commission with the right of initiative, Parliamentary Assembly / now the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers, the Court of Justice). The patient work of weaving has produced the fabric of ten successful treaties with several failed ones Hence, the process is one of continuous weaving, back and forth, upwards and downwards. One of the first steps, in 1952, was a gigantic fail still unresolved: the creation of the European Defence Community. It was an attempt to create an European pillar, avoid the rearmament of Germany and contain the power of the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The CED was rejected in the French National Assembly in 1954 mainly by Gaullists and communists. Central Europe was the epicentre of the balance of terror between the USA and the Soviet Union in the second half of the twentieth century. It saw the biggest concentration of conventional and nuclear military power in History on German soil. The nineties had to be awaited to include in the EU Treaties any mention on the dimension of a common defence “in due moment”. Paradoxically, the last American tank left Germany only this year. On the other side, the soviet tanks were scrapped with the implosion of the Soviet Union. The next decisive step was the Treaty of Rome of 1957. The treaty created the European Community (EC), the so called Common Market, based on a customs union and the fundamental four freedoms: first, the freedom of movement and establishment for persons, and also the freedom of movement of goods, services and capitals. For the first time, it was not only a Treaty among sovereign States, a new Holy Alliance, but an opening to the whole society. This fact was enshrined very quickly by the European Court of Justice when it recognised in the 1960s' the direct application of the European Law to citizens, not only to member states. The momentum when the Treaty of Rome was adopted was not hazardous. It carried change. Most precisely, its negotiations came accelerated by the failure of the last colonial adventure of the two remaining major European empires, France and Great Britain: the paratrooper attack launched against Egypt in 1956 as retaliation after the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by Nasser. This attack epitomized the process of decolonisation, and the rise of the Third World with the non-aligned movement, which entailed the political emancipation of more than the half of the global population. But besides this political empowerment, this momentum of change mostly shaped the second half of the short 20th century. And the Treaty of Rome also falls within these game-changer events. An ongoing process of recovery and modernisation of the European economies was also happening, fostered by the Marshall Plan. The enlargement of democracy to the working classes, farmers and above all, women, was decisive for the consolidation for the Welfare Society. It was a process built step after step, by threading carefully the fabric of the tissue back and forth. Tango style. The confrontation between the United States of Europe of Jean Monnet and the Europe of Nations of De Gaulle expressed very clearly the tension. At the same time, the Franco-German Treaty of Friendship signed by the Gaulle and Adenauer in 1963 represented a major change. My personal testimony can be helpful to illustrate the process. I was born in 1944, after the Spanish Civil War and went into school in a religious School that had been a political prison until the year I was born, the sadly famous Carcel de Porlier. Thousands of people waited to be executed in its corridors and classes. Nobody ever spoke about this fratricide at school, but when I realised this, some years later, I decided to work all my life to overcome this fratricide. The Francoist Regime, partner of the Axis, survived in isolation thanks to the Cold War. Witnessing that the Common Market was up, and running, the Dictator changed its criticism towards the neighbouring decadent European democracies and applied to join it in January 62. Five months later, the European Movement patronised a meeting of the Spanish opposition, the first since the civil war in Munich. The European Parliament approved a resolution on the political conditions that a country had to fulfil in order to become Member of the EC. The reaction of the regime was virulent. For me it was the moment in which I decided to merger my fight for a democratic Spain with the adhesion to Europe. Elected as MP in 1977, I worked to draft the Spanish Constitution, incorporating the values of the UN and later, as member of the Gonzalez Cabinet in 1982 successfully concluding the negotiations of the entry of Spain in the EC. For us, it was not only an economic deal but a shared destiny. At the same time, it represented for the country a return to the world stage, updating the relationship with the Iberoamerican countries and other traditional spheres, such as the Arab World. Our entry in the EC was helpful in order to launch the Central America peace process of San José de Costa Rica. The result was the "Esquipulas II Accord" of 1987in which the Central American heads of state agreed on economic cooperation and a framework for peaceful conflict resolution. The Nobel Peace Prize recognised the role of President Oscar Arias. I left my government duties in 1985 and volunteered to join the European Parliament (EP). When I arrived in 1986, the ceremony of accession to the EU was touching, because of the remembrance of the negative consequences of the policy of non intervention of the democratic countries during the Spanish civil war. After joining, the main points of the agenda were to complete the Common Market among 12 Members States and launch the Monetary Union. It was hard to imagine how quickly History was going to push us ahead. I was elected in the summer of 1989 President of the EP, and in November the Berlin Wall fall. It was the end of the iron curtain. But that year was not important only for Europe; it was a time of positive upheavals all over the world. In spring, the Polish people elected a free Parliament, the Chinese students occupied Tienanmen Square, in Chile Pinochet lost its plebiscite and peace was made in Nicaragua. In South Africa, the apartheid regime was torn down and Mandela was liberated. I granted him the Sakharov Prize as I did with Aelxander Dubeck. The Priza of the Birman Dame Aung San Suu KyiI hans been released only this year. 1989 was an “Annus Mirabilis” for democracy at a global level, showing that democracy was not anymore the privilege of developed capitalist countries. It was and is, more and more, an aspiration of the huge majority of Mankind. All in all, it was not the end of History, as some flamboyant intellectuals announced by issuing eschatological predictions. Quite the opposite: the implosion of the former Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union launched new and substantial challenges for all involved. In the first case, it was a symbolic century that Hobswanm defined as being “sad and brief, born in Sarajevo in 1914, and dead in the same town in the 90's”. For the work in motion of the European construction, Sarajevo and Yugoslavia represented a risk of travelling back to the past, to destructive nationalism and fratricide war exactly where they took place nearly eighty years before. The process launched as the Conference of Stability in Europe (CSCE) achieved the result of 140 treaties that very often helped to heal old wounds as old as the 1st World War. In the case of the Soviet Union, the reverberations and consequences of its break-up were much more significant at a global level. The end of the bi-polarisation of the Cold War was considered by some as a definitive triumph of liberal capitalism in a unipolar world dominated by the US. However, this was the moment of birth of the European Union as such with the Treaty of Maastricht. I had the privilege and the responsibility of representing the EP in the negotiations. Nowadays Maastricht is described as a the Treaty of the Monetary Union, although we were able to introduce in it the citizenship in addition to the single currency. For the first time, the political dimension was incorporated, a dimension that would be latterly developed and enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. The principles, values and objectives of the Union included in it are proclaimed for the 1st time. Values as democracy, respect of human rights, minorities, solidarity, gender equality, and peace and freedom, are its first objectives and motivations. In some parts of the world, we are so used to them, that we do not mention them normally as we are submerged in our day-to-day routine. Meanwhile, we have enlarged our community from 12 to 28 countries in 20 years, with more countries on the waiting list. Almost all of them have fought wars against one, or more of their neighbours. As the President Mitterrand rightly said in his goodbye speech at the EP in 1995, “France has made war to all its partners in the EU in the past, with the exception of Denmark, and I don´t not know why”. This is probably the biggest revolutionary change in the whole History of Europe. Now let me come to the features of the world we are living in. Since the end of the second World War, the main trends in Mankind can be summed up as the great polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński did, by saying that “more and more people live in peace in spite of the existence of focalised conflicts, the process of decolonisation has emancipated the majority of mankind and people want to live better in terms of goods, services and above all education, healthcare and welfare”. Now, a quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and on the eve of the centennial of the 1st WW, how does the global balance of forces look like if we take a glimpse at it from a European perspective? First, the old European order is definitely gone. The same applies to the American one, and to the asymmetric balance exerted by the G-7 or the G-8, including Canada and Japan. When judging global balances, one has to bear in mind the fact that the EU accounts for only 7 % of the global population, but creates approximately 23% of the global GDP and trade, and generates 50% of the social spending. Now, the World stage is defined by the G-20 and beyond. The old regional grand Empires of Asia, China and India -that were more developed that Europe until the XVIIIth Century- are back on the front scene with renewed strength, while emerging countries like Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey and others are members of this exclusive club that includes other specimens such as Saudi Arabia. But this is not only about weighing the balance of power of each pole on a world map, as the second-age European Emperors of the late 19th Century did when chopping down Africa into pieces at the Berlin Congress, in 1884. The growing middle classes of the rising countries are asking today for education, healthcare and welfare, raising on the table a whole new set of questions on growth, resources and development at a global level that have to be necessarily dealt with. The challenge is to fit this new platform –the G-20- into the framework of the United Nations, not to replace them as the base of a renewed World order in peace through the council of a “club of the emerging and emerged”. Meanwhile, we Europeans are striving to overcome the ongoing crisis and strengthening our common project. Most of us think that we must go on, by carefully weaving together the fabric of a more United Europe, albeit some think they are trapped in a spider web. Former President Lula has rightly reminded us that we Europeans do no have the right to cancel a project that belongs to the whole Humanity. In 2014, we have the opportunity to decide if we want to keep following the path that has relegated civil wars among Europeans to the annals of History, or open up a Pandora Box of unbearable consequences. Thanks for your attention.

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