Europe Day Message from the CIES Director – 9 May 2018

Europe Day Message from the CIES Director – 9 May 2018

Today the Center for International and European Studies (CIES) commemorates and celebrates Europe Day. Sixty-eight years after Robert Schuman's ground-breaking, forward-looking speech, on the heels of the Second World War and in the midst of the evolving Cold War, that launched the greatest peace project in history, it is important to take stock of the accomplishments since that time. We should not to lose sight of its relevance in these times of turbulence, populism, and possible backtracking on the acquis of the ideals and values of the European project itself.

Of the many memorable quotes in Schuman's speech, two in particular merit heightened attention. The first concerns the need for solidarity among Europeans: "Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity." Without solidarity, commitment, and a strong normative edifice, today's Europe and its myriad of achievements could not have been built...While progress in the construction of the European project has not always been smooth, the current size of the European Union with the many third European countries aspiring to join its ranks, coupled with the multiplication of the issues and policies that fall under the purview of Integration, the project needs to be strengthened and protected from its many detractors, both within its ranks and beyond.

The second relevant quote implies global responsibility. Says Schuman: "World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it." The European Union and its member states should not lose sight of both the impact of their integration efforts on the rest of the world, nor of their responsibility to strive for peace beyond their borders. In fact, over time, the EU has demonstrated its global role as a promoter of global trade, a key provider of development and humanitarian assistance, the leading locomotive behind the Climate Change Paris Accord, its steadfast commitment in securing and implementing the Iran Nuclear Deal, and a number of other initiatives. At a time when its key Transatlantic ally has withdrawn from the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Climate Change Accord, and now the Iran Nuclear Deal, Europe needs to step up and redouble its efforts by reaching out to allies and partners around the globe via the application of its principled pragmatism to strive for stability, security, and prosperity for itself, its member states, its citizens, and the rest of the world.

The European project is a work in progress. We must continue to strive to enhance it, to diversify it, and to promote it. Robert Schuman dared to show us the way forward, it is in our hands to keep it alive. The Norwegian Nobel Committee, that awarded the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012, said it best when announcing the award on “what it sees as the EU's most important result:  the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights. The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou