After our preparatory meeting in Brussels our first thematic project event was held in Paris on 13-14 December 2018.
The objectives of the meeting were to point out that the current hectic discussions on democracy can only produce tangible results if citizens with their bottom-up approach are adequatly involved and to show that the respect of common values assist the implementation of MRS objectives.
The main project event was a public debate on democracy and European issues. More than 60 persons gathered in the Maison de l’Europe de Paris to discuss these issues and try to find solutions how to tackle Euroscepticism.
Catherine Lalumière, President of the Maison de l’Europe de Paris welcomed participants and opened the event.
Our guest speaker was Luuk van Middelaar, former adviser of the President of the European Council Herman von Rompuy who revealed behind the scenes of European Summits of recent years punctuated by several crises in his latest book “When Europe improvises”. The question he asked is whether Europe will be forced to improvise or will it manage to set a sustainable course.
Quite naturally the debate started with Brexit with a close reality to no deal agreement but unfortunately Brexit crisis is far from being a unique crisis in Europe. Crises have multiplied on our continent for more than a decade: migrant crisis, Ukraine, Greece, Atlantic crisis, etc.
Luuk van Middelaar says in his book „When Europe improvises” that it is urgent to revise the European Union which does not stop improvising during its crises and to „survive” day by day. The question we should ask is what is the long-term vision of the European Union for our citizens? What is the place of this peace project?
We live in a crucial context, with citizens increasingly dissatisfied with their government, national and European political leaders who have been confronted with unexpected situations. According to the author, the chaos created by these events forced the European Union to improvise. But what does he mean? Luuk Van Middelaar demonstrated very concretely that Europe has gone from the “politics of the rule” to the “politics of the event” that is to say that the heads of state and government for the most part as well as the European Commissioners had to take a range of actions to deal with the obstacles. Safeguarding our collective European destiny has not always been easy, the leaders had to invent and reinvent themselves, be creative or find innovative solutions while taking action and taking destiny in hand.
On the eve of the European elections which will take place between 23 and 26 May we are invited to reflect on the European Union: understanding the European Union, its role in building democracy is very hard and even unfair because instead of assuming their national responsibilities, national politicians and even the national media preferred to say that “it is Brussels fault” when things did not happen or were not working.
It is also true that notions such as democracy or European values are not really tangible to the general public. We might believe that we can live without them.
But we should also see the positive side of the road travelled in recent decades and to understand the surprising achievements of the European Union. Since its origin, this project has not ceased to surprise and adapt with a policy of small steps.
As we approach the European elections, it is more important than ever to invite Europeans to take ownership of the European project. Politicising the European Union in the sense of appropriating its essence is a necessity. The unwavering determination to prepare the future together to join forces after this period of improvisation will be essential for the Europeans to save this peace project.
During our stay in Paris we have also paid a visit to the Paris City Hall where we met Hermano Sanches Ruivo, Counsellor for European Affairs and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France to meet Counsellor Carole Ulmer from the Secretariat for the Citizens Consultation to discuss the initiative of French President Macron and its impact on European policy-making in the future.
More on the book “Quand l’Europe improvise”: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/documents-publications/library/library-blog/posts/quand-l-europe-improvise-dix-ans-de-crises-politiques/