Europe stands at a turning point. The long trek towards political unification has been championed by the large numbers of, usually, wealthier Europeans who have gained most by globalism and the Single Market. This publication proposes a Relational Economic plan for Europe....
Europe stands at a turning point. The long trek towards political unification has been championed by the large numbers of, usually, wealthier Europeans who have gained most by globalism and the Single Market. But the prolonged economic slowdown following 2008, worsened by many nations’ barely sustainable debt positions, has revealed, and given voice to, a groundswell of discontent. Today, electorates in many major EU nations are split down the middle, and not always on party lines. It is no longer fanciful to think that the UK’s narrowly won decision to leave the EU could be followed by exit votes in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Greece. In addition to a sustained period of fiscal weakness and political instability, Europe is facing an existential crisis. It could be argued that the recent economic troubles were just bad luck, and that the best way forward is to intensify the unification process – including the political and fiscal centralisation without which it is difficult to maintain a single currency covering even part of the EU. But this suggestion is too conveniently simple. The refrain of ‘ever closer union’, first introduced by those who drafted the Treaty of Rome, imagines a willing convergence between peoples, not a mere welding together of the political and financial structures within which they live. The two are not the same. The first may legitimize the second; the second will not achieve the first.
This publication puts forward twenty policy proposals under seven main headings. But beneath this is more than a policy direction. There is also a recognition that the great engines of thought and action flowing from Europe’s Christian roots and Enlightenment are not complete in themselves. In the end, a culture that builds so much upon the rights and freedoms of individuals will also have to attend to the relationships it codifies into major institutions, and place an explicit value on quality of relationship in the way it conducts civic life and educates the next generation. Liberty and equality are matchless ideals – but they are only two of three. Neither can be implemented in isolation from the third, which since the middle of the twentieth century has received far less attention – namely fraternity.
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