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"Unifying Europe is an ambition that must have a purpose. It is no longer clear what that purpose is. Unless there is clarity shared among broad populations who then grant legitimacy to their elected governments and leaders to advance European unity (with the knowledge that there are increasingly perceived risks and costs to that), unity will not advance, and existing hard won unity may falter as we see already with, among others,  the on-going Greek crisis, serious concerns about the viability of the euro, Brexit, high level questioning of Turkey as an EU candidate and Visehrad views and policies. As is well recognized now by national leaders across the European Union and beyond, top down driven unity efforts in the absence of overwhelming public and voter support, whatever the core/outer group or speeds, will not succeed and can fuel  further alienation from and opposition to the "European Project."

Past efforts up to and including the post-World War steps leading to the current European Union have always had a driving purpose, for good or ill. Unity through domination of the continent by one group, over all others, to secure peace and thus the possibility (especially for the dominant group) of greater prosperity, including dominion over human souls, was more often than not the driver. Drawing on the lessons of preceding crisis moments  through the 18th, 19th and early 20th Centuries, the formation of (West) European cooperation, structures and practices of unity were specifically designed to prevent Germany and France from going to war, and thus to prevent further European wide wars that, as well, at least twice had already been global in impact. Underlying that goal was the perpetual fear of domination of the whole of Europe by one or other great power. No credible case can be made today that preventing France and Germany from going to war is the driving purpose of European unity or "more Europe" in the roll out of a potentially reformed European Union. Can we test the current purposes? Can there be a purpose to European unity going forward? And, if so, what could it, what should it be?" 

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Steve Lee Policy Paper CIFE 57

 

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