Nationalism Has No Home in Europe
Hans Dietrich Genscher - One of the chief architects of European integration as embodied in the Maastricht Treaty, Hans Dietrich Genscher was foreign minister of Germany from 1974 to 1992.
France's vote this fall in favor of the Maastricht Treaty decidedly meant a "yes" for Europe. Also inherent in the decision, however, was an appeal to the other peoples of Europe to actively pursue process of European integration, including keeping to the original timetable that had been set for the ratification of the Maastricht treaty.
The citizens of Ireland and France, as well as the parliaments of those states and of Britain, have also ratified the treaty. Under these circumstances, no one should demand that the Maastricht Treaty be renegotiated.
In this hour when minds are divided about whether to pursue European unity or whether to doom Europe to stagnation, we must say clearly and unequivocally: Stalling now means regression. And regression means dissolution - the relinquishment of every great achievement over nationalism and its bloody consequences since the end of World War II.
The new civilization of coexistence within our European community must never again be jeopardized by national self-interest. We must not only preserve and further develop this new civilization of coexistence for ourselves but also extend it to our neighbors in the East.
Having said this, however, it will be necessary for the European Council to clearly express the intentions of the heads of state and government concerning the shaping of Europe's future. The subsidarity principle, for example, will need to be reasserted.
This principle states that the sphere of competence of individual member states of the European Community should remain as large as possible and that only those affairs that cannot be handled otherwise should be handled centrally. Concerns about excessive centralism must be taken seriously. The expression of these concerns should prompt many centralists in Brussels to reconsider their attitudes.
As many decisions as possible should be taken by the parliaments and governments that are closest to the citizens. Recent discussions, which clearly demonstrated concern about a potential loss of national identity, should have taught us that this principle must be reaffirmed. At the same time, however, the principle of independence of the European Central Banks must also be reasserted. It would be unwise not to do so.
Especially in light of the rising skepticism of recent months, Europe would be well advised to clearly demonstrate its resolve to complete political union. A resolute progression on this path would clearly be the best way to counter the recurring nationalism, the disillusionment with Europe and the turbulence in the European currency system.
The degree of cooperation and interdependence within the European Community is already much stronger than many skeptics would have us believe. This implies that each step along the way must be taken with due regard for mutual responsibility and others' concerns.
The common domestic market became a reality on January 1, 1993. But it will only be able to realize its full potential for European consumers once economic and monetary union are completed. Our experiences with the European Monetary System so far have been quite clear: it has been lead to harmonization of the economic, monetary and fiscal policies of member states to a degree never before attained.
The common endeavor to achieve economic and monetary union and to fulfill the criteria contained in the Treaty will also lead to increased efforts on the part of the member states toward achieving the objectives of stability that have already been long decided. Sticking to the steadfast pursuit of this single purpose will also make it easier for both governments and parliaments to make the necessary, even if somewhat painful, decisions of adjustment that lay ahead.
Once we get beyond these petty and short-sighted discussions with which Europe has of late preoccupied, we can see that the European Community is indeed faced with major challenges. The expansion of the EC tops the list.
The European economic space is now a reality and most of the EFTA (European Free Trade Area) countries have alredy applied for membership in the European Community. These applications should be dealt with swiftly so as to admit these countries at the earliest possible moment.
Through the instrument of the Association Agreements the EC has further accepted the challenge of becoming pan-European in character. By signing these Association Agreement with Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, the EC has made and important contribution to the stabilization of these countries as well as to improving their chances of economic development. By opening up the possibility of eventual full membership in the European community, the agreement is encouraging for the people and offers their governments a possibility of showing their citizens the light at the end of the tunnel.
Whoever harbors any doubts about these countries' entering the EC needs to be reminded that Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians would be undoubtedly have become members at the outset or at least during the expansion phase if this had been politically possible. The clear expression of faith of these people for Europe and in favor of democracy, human rights, human dignity and a market economy during their peaceful revolutions for freedom cannot remain unsuccessful.
The European Community must accept the unity of Europe both as a fact and as a challenge. During the Cold War, Europe had been coerced into two distinct developments: democracy and market economy in the West, and socialism the East. The disappearance of the Iron Curtain has, in actual fact, led to the unification of Europe and to common development in the future. No one in the West should harbor any illusions to the contrary. No country can escape the common fate of Europe and no one must neglect the principle according to which the West will not be able to do well in the long run if the East were to do poorly for too long.
The EC will only be able to live up to these challenges, however, if it actively pursues the process of integration. The vitality of the European Community has always taken nourishment from a dynamism that has evolved in two directions: Deepening - continuing integration and strengthening of the Community, on the one hand - and expansion on the other hand. Each step on the way toward deepening and expanding the Community was disputed, yet each one of them has brought benefits to all concerned.
A Place in the Triad
As importantly, the European Community must recognize its responsibility vis-à-vis Russia and the successor states of the former Soviet Union. This part of the world offers great possibilities for us because its possesses raw materials and energy sources that Europe needs. The stabilization of this part of the world also contributes to the overall stability of Europe. The development and modernization of the raw material and energy supply in Europe but also enable these countries, through earning foreign currencies, to advance their own internal development and to meet their obligations toward donor countries.
Whoever wishes to achieve the unit of Europe must realize that it implies creating a pan-European infrastructure, i.e. a common telecommunications system, a common transport system, and a common energy system. Germany is just now in the process of learning how important it is for the development of the new Länder (the states of former East Germany) to integrate them into the German infrastructure. The same is true of our neighbors to the East.
Every European solution to these manifold challenges means abandoning the nationalism that, over and over again, has thrown the peoples of Europe into the horror of war.
The tasks ahead are gigantic. It is precisely for that reason that we cannot afford, in midstream, to take a break from history by abandoning the course set at Maastricht.