Can Europe Make It?

The last chance to create a united Europe?

Jacopo Barbati
16 May 2014

Reading the news this week, I was hit by one article saying that “Norway’s leaders snub Dalai Lama in deference to China”. Of course many Norwegian citizens protested against their own government for this, especially as the Dalai Lama’s trip to Norway was meant to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize he won. And it is exactly the Nobel Peace Prize which created this story.

As known, the Nobel Peace Prize is run by a Norwegian committee and the ceremony is held in Oslo. In 2010, the prize was won by Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese human-rights activist who was imprisoned in that same year for "inciting subversion of state power". Of course China was not happy about that and since then, its diplomatic relations with Norway became quite cold and rare.

This situation led to the “Dalai Lama” case: China would not have appreciated an official meeting between the spiritual guide of the rebel Tibetan people and the already provocative Norwegian Government; therefore, the latter decided to sacrifice its tradition and reputation as a bastion of tolerance in order to try to get back to normal diplomatic relations with China. Many Norwegian people felt betrayed, but the Prime Minister Erna Solberg confirmed the pragmatic approach: improving relations with China will mean having the possibility to engage in discussions about important world issues like environmental protection and human rights.

Under this point of view, the situation is clear: the Norwegian Government decided to face embarrassment in order to have some - small - possibilities to influence globally important issues.

I’d like to be pragmatic too: nice try Norway, but I don’t think you’ll succeed. You are too small to debate with giants like China, India, Brazil, USA, and Russia.

It can be said that if Norway was in the EU, maybe something could have changed… But we all know that this is not true, because there is no common foreign policy. At the international level, the EU member states are always representing just themselves. And they are all, too small to have a say against those continent-sized countries. And you cannot begin to solve problems like global warming if you cannot talk with them. You cannot try to understand what really Russia wants to do in Ukraine nor try to have an influence in that specific case.

The globalized world that came out after the second world war has always been ruled by few powers, expressed at the beginning by the USA and USSR, and now, after the fall of the latter, by USA and China (that have already started talking – alone – about the future of the whole world in their G2 meetings), with rising “big powers” like Russia, Brazil and India ready to take their share.

As seen, in this framework there is no space for the EU or any European Country. The EU had twenty years (1990-2010) to become one of the first two world powers, between the fall of USSR and the rise of China. But nothing happened, because nobody saw the necessity of making the EU a single country, with a single government, a single army and a single foreign policy. But that would have been one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world, able to discuss on equal terms with everybody and able to protect its and also others’ citizens.

Maybe we’re not too late, but we have our very last chance: next week, go vote for the European Parliament elections and think about which kind of EU could guarantee you a better future: a divided one, going backwards into nationalism, or a more integrated one – going toward a federation. It’s up to us to choose our future.

Get weekly updates on Europe A thoughtful weekly email of economic, political, social and cultural developments from the storm-tossed continent. Join the conversation: get our weekly email

Comments

We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram