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Víctor Pou, Professor at IESE and the University of Navarra

EU: the last chance

Thu, 08 Aug 2013 08:17:00 +0000 Published in La Vanguardia

The EU is experiencing the most difficult times in its history. Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer wrote: "Everyone in Europe already knows that either the current crisis will destroy the EU or bring about its political union". The shortcomings of the founding architecture of the eurozone - born without political union or fiscal union - were first addressed with improvisations. Starting in the summer of 2012, the European committee decided that the euro had to be saved at all costs. Then came the famous statements by ECB President Mario Draghi that everything necessary would be done to ensure the continuity of the single currency. Today, we are moving steadily towards banking union. After the German elections in September, we will see further progress towards fiscal union and the partial mutualization of accumulated debt. The euro zone will be able to claim victory for having overcome its congenital problems, but the big question will be asked more forcefully than ever: what kind of concrete Europe do we want to meet the challenges of the 21st century?

The process of European integration was born as a response to the need for peace after the Second World War, but today we are moving forward together because we already know that none of the European states is capable of successfully projecting itself in the world of globalization on its own. Europe, despite its 500 million million inhabitants and the world's largest internal market, will go into decline if it does not move towards political union. The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has hit the nail on the head by publishing a book on the current state of the EU graduate The Giant in Chains. He argues that as a young man he dreamed of a United States of Europe, but over the years he has come to see the strength of national identities. This is why he advocates the configuration of a Europe as a federation of states. This means strengthening the powers of the European Community institutions - Commission, Parliament and Court of Justice - and converting the European committee into a second chamber in which the interests of the states would be represented. Schulz says that we are facing "the last chance for Europe" and that the cost of losing it would be our irrelevance on the international scene.