We like European integration. We believe it is needed. We no longer live in a world of villages which exist independent of each other. Like it or not, the many small boats in which we were tossed about by the turbulent seas of time have been lashed together into one big flotilla. We’re all in it together now, facing the same problems: climate change, environmental degradation, migration, social tensions, terrorism, scarcity of resources and the other limits of a finite planet. We can only solve these problems together.
We see the European Union as one attempt to find a common response to these issues. It envisions an ever closer union of the peoples of Europe. It can be seen as a first step toward global cooperation, but today it is overshadowed by many shortcomings and missteps. Many citizens view the European Union as a sprawling bureaucracy remote from their everyday lives. They are unable to identify with a “soulless machine” which sometimes seems to have only one purpose: to look after the common market. As Jean Monnet rightly observed, “Nobody falls in love with a market”.
One problem is that the European Union lacks a shared vision. This wasn’t always the case. The “founding fathers” of European integration were guided by the vision to create lasting peace on a continent that experienced too much armed conflict in one century. This vision still exists, but it is taken for granted. The countries of the European Union have achieved peace, but there is a lot more to be done. For that, we need a new vision.
In 2012, twenty years after the Treaty of Maastricht was signed, formally creating the European Union, we believe that it is time for the people of Europe to step in. A lot of inspiring initiatives do this already, but not all of us are included. They need to become part of a European-wide movement with a shared goal: a vision that we define together.
Politicians have their parliaments, managers their boardrooms. They are able to meet, talk and develop joint plans. As citizens, we need such a space too. The Unity Express is exactly that. A place for the people of Europe to get together and have a dialogue about how we want to live together. Let’s focus on the things we have in common, such as needs, concerns and hopes. Let’s explore and strengthen the connections that tie us and the planet together. Let’s become the community to create the Europe in which we want to live in.
It’s time for a Europe of the people.…