Statement EES President Dr Ingo Friedrich
Actually, all political analyses regarding Europe yield the same result: Without a close and trusting cooperation of the European national states within the European Union neither a stable future can be reached nor can the competition with the other giants on the global level be survived. But why then is there so much scepticism and prejudice towards the European Union?
On the surface it is the perceived disadvantages caused by the EU membership in general; or the “faulty” EU decisions (bureaucracy); or the unfair restrictions on one’s own national ability to act. But if one digs deeper and analyses for example the motivations of the English “Brexiteers”, then another scenario appears:
Scepticism and prejudices towards Europe essentially feed on an unchanged adherence to the traditional values of national sovereignty, national common good, national identity and nationally oriented patriotism. Because these national attitudes and thinking patterns have to be readjusted and amended in the “European” age of the 21st century, an arduous and for some maybe even painful learning process has become necessary:
Similarly to how the Bavarians, Prussians, Württemberger etc. had to “learn” to also feel German, thus taking on an additional German identity after the founding of the German Reich in 1871 by the latest, today us Germans, French, Polish etc find ourselves faced with the task of developing an added European common perception in addition to our national (and regional) identity. The European level as well cannot exist without a minimum of common fundamental attitude.
If the European project is to have long-term success - which without doubt lies in the essential German interest - this learning process is not limited to just the additionally necessary European identity, but analogously to the other values and attitudes. Therefore we Germans and Europeans should get used to the fact that the classic national sovereignty in many areas (e.g. environment, security, foreign policy, technical, pharmaceutical, right to life standards, or trademark registration in the internal market, and much more) can no longer be solely nationally exercised, but only jointly European. The national possibilities are simply no longer sufficient in many areas.
Analogously, this realisation also applies to the common good. Yes, next to the national common good nowadays the consideration of the joint European common good has its justification. This doesn’t make the entire matter any easier, but it meets today’s reality.
Acquiring and accepting a new “broadened” patriotism seems to be especially difficult. But a patriotism that does justice to the current demands must reach beyond the slogan “My country first!”: with a certain “empathy” it also has to consider the interests of the neighbouring countries and partners if it wants to ensure the success of one’s own nation in the long run. Sympathy and acceptance of the other nowadays are important categories which can quite quickly gain economic importance.
All things considered: The four classic values, namely sovereignty, common good, identity and patriotism, which for centuries were exclusively defined nationally, today have to be readjusted and expanded, namely to a European scope. This learning process is not easy as currently vividly demonstrated by the English example (to get back control about our country), but it is absolutely imperative.