Monday, December 17, 2012

The European Union was not built in one day...

Many people and especially columnists who need to fill their pages are anxious and even impatient about the progress that is being made in the European Union. They criticise politicians who haggle and deal and make compromises, but who also delay and wait and postpone. There is a crisis and the journals want a solution now!

Point is that Europe is an experiment. It is the first time in history that 500 million people voluntarily come together and give away part of their authority and authonomy to a central government. They all do that because they know that the alternative is continued war. Europe has a recorded history of more than 3000 years of continuous war fare and probably longer. This is what formed our continent. This continued fight without a clear winner has made us free (see e.g. Tilly). This is what created chivalry, serfdom, the renaissance, democracy, enlightment, the industrial revolution, capitalism and ultimately: an affluent society and freedom. The rest of the world looks upon Europe with envy (yes, also Kishore Mahbubani and also the USA).

But this experiment is going too fast. The politicians in Europe and certainly the journalists are more eager than the voters. Voters are not ready yet to give away all their local connections for the greater good of 500 million "others". People are conservative. They need to get used to the ideas and they need to see the benefits of change before they agree to further change. In the middle ages they voted with their feet and left feudal lords to join the free cities. In the same way the voters should get enough time to realize that the European vision is worth following.

So politicians should take their time. If we cannot agree this decennium, we will agree in the next. Or the next.

Giving away authonomy should be a careful and slow process.

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