|The Enduring Legacy of Robert Schuman: A Vision and Values for Europe in the 21st Century
A pamphlet commissioned by the Church of England’s House of Bishops’ Europe Panel to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration
About the author 6
The Schuman Declaration 7
Robert Schuman – Christian Statesman and Father of Europe 8
Europe’s Christian Inheritance 10
The Christian Contribution to European Democracy 10
The Contemporary Significance of the Schuman Declaration 12
World Peace 13
Unity in Europe 15
The Sharing of Sovereignty 17
Solidarity within Europe 18
Solidarity with the wider World 20
Working with the United Nations 22
The Schuman Declaration - a Transcript 26
For many 9 May is just another day in the calendar, for others it marks Europe Day. Along with the flag, the anthem, the motto and the single currency, Europe Day is regarded by some as a symbol that helps identify the political entity of the European Union. It’s not a national holiday as such in the UK, but since 1985 it has provided, according to the European Commission, “an occasion for activities and festivities that bring Europe closer to its citizens and peoples of the Union closer to one another.”
It might appear a little strange to commission a specifically Europe Day pamphlet for a British audience. After all, of all the 27 EU member states, Britain is by far the most euro-sceptic. According to a September 2009 Euro-barometer survey, only 32% of the population think Britain has benefited from the EU. With only 28% of Britons saying that the EU is a good thing, it is perhaps not surprising that last year’s European Parliamentary elections saw the UK Independence Party, which is committed to leaving the EU, coming second with 17% of the vote.
But, in commissioning this pamphlet the Church of England’s House of Bishops’ Europe Panel decided that this year, more than any other year, it is important to take a moment to pause and reflect on what Europe Day signifies. The 9 May 2010 marks the 60th anniversary of the moment when against the backdrop of the devastation caused by the Second World War and the looming spectre of a Third World War that threatened to engulf Europe, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman read the international press declaration calling on France, Germany and other countries to pool their coal and steel production as “the first concrete foundation of a European federation”. Although Britain passed on Robert Schuman’s invitation to join the European Coal and Steel Community, deciding instead to defer membership until 1973, 9 May 1950 was a tipping point in European history.
The focus of this pamphlet is not the Europe of symbols that informs the Europe Day of today, but the exploration of those values – peace, reconciliation, solidarity, justice - that informed and shaped Robert Schuman’s original declaration in 1950 and their relevance for shaping the Europe of tomorrow. It is hoped that by examining Europe from a values-based perspective we might have a better understanding of what Europe represents and why we all have a vested interest in seeing it continuing to prosper whatever its future shape.
There are a number of reasons why a pamphlet such as this is important at this particular moment. The momentum that successfully carried Europe forward through the second half of the 20th Century has dissipated. The long years of often bitter negotiation and acrimoniously charged referendums that led to the Constitutional and Lisbon treaties have left Europe more uncertain of its future and more mistrusted by its citizens than ever before.
As the memories of Europe’s more turbulent and violent history begin to fade, so too do the wider reasons for building a shared Europe. One is left with technocratic debates about how to make the market work more efficiently, as if that were an end in itself, rather than a means to ensuring the prosperity that Europe needs for its own political stability. Such solutions are important but they are no substitute for a compelling narrative of what Europe is for the 21st Century.
This is worrisome given the significant tests that Europe will face over the coming years. These tests are arguably no less challenging than those that faced Europe after the Second World War. The impact of an aging population, difficulties related to migration and social inclusion and the need to deal with climate change and energy security will require a re-orientation of Europe’s economies and societies. All this coupled with the financial crisis and a deep recession prompt concern that Europe is facing a perfect storm which needs to be addressed through decisive and structural reforms.
The contested nature of the debates regarding Europe’s future might help to explain the shifting societal attitudes with many increasingly seeing Europe as a source of insecurity rather than security. In many countries the EU now symbolises the forces of globalisation and with it the dislocation of traditional economic and social relationships in favour of new patterns of connectivity, not all of them seen as equitable. To some the EU is responsible for the declining social cohesion, poor economic growth and rising unemployment. We are concerned that European citizens are more and more looking to national governments to provide for their own security, even though the challenges facing Europe can only be tackled and managed at a European and collective level.
In our submission to the European Commission’s Europe 2020 Strategy we suggested that if anything is to be learnt from the recent economic and financial crisis it is that the fabric of our societies and economy is not sustainable. Europe’s economic future requires a political re-framing of growth in terms of its quality rather than its quantity. This reframing, we suggest, needs to shape a new intergenerational contract between young and old that at the same time protects the environmental foundations of our prosperity against irreversible harm.
None of this is to argue against introducing structural reform where necessary, but it does suggest that the overall policy objective for the coming years must be grounded in a broader understanding of sustainability that requires the construction of a new politics of responsibility. Despite the set backs at last year’s United Nations Climate Change talks in Copenhagen, Europe still has the opportunity to become a pathfinder for the global transition to sustainable development. This objective, we suggest, needs to be reflected in the EU’s policies, its laws and its budgets and over time in our notion of who we are as Europeans.
Sustainability is all too often understood in terms of the environment and climate change. Its meaning now needs to be understood more widely. As important are sustainable public finances in order to secure the European welfare model and sustainable markets including the financial markets. What constitutes a sustainable immigration policy needs to be seen not just from the perspective of its substantial contribution to growth, but its impact on social cohesion. Europe also needs sustainable corporations whose objective is to live in harmony with the environment and with the long-term horizon. That is certainly our vision and hope for the future.
The designers of modern Europe, from Schuman, Churchill, Monnet, and Adenauer were driven predominantly by a single ambition: to banish the spectre of war from Europe’s borders. They were incredibly successful in doing so. But the Europe of today faces radically new challenges that require it to develop a new sense of purpose. Institutional reform and technocratic solutions though important, are not in themselves sufficient.
Just as in May 1950, responding to today’s challenges compels us to think about the future in a new way. If as we suspect it is a future that will bear little resemblance to the past then it will require a very different set of political choices than those currently on offer. This year’s Europe Day is therefore an opportune time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past and to challenge all leaders in Europe to offer the types of values-based political choices that might help secure Europe’s long-term security and prosperity.
How Europe defines its role in response to the new challenges it faces has been a key feature of our work over recent years. We have taken this work forward by engaging with particular pieces of legislation such as the EU’s climate change legislative programme of 2008. We have also participated in various consultations whether they be the reform of the EU budget or more recently the EU’s 2020 strategy.
Where possible we have tried to work in partnership with other civil society actors and Churches, not least the Conference of European Churches. Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty offers a new mechanism for our constructive engagement on these and other matters by making provision for a regular, open and transparent dialogue between the Churches and the EU institutions.
By commissioning this pamphlet, we aim to deepen further the appreciation of the importance of developing a values-based approach to re-newing and re-invigorating Europe’s vision and mission. We hope this pamphlet will be of interest to others, not just those from a Church background, who are as committed as us to helping Europe renew itself.
We are grateful to Canon Dr Gary Wilton for undertaking this particular piece of work project and for reminding us all that ‘values’ must be at the heart of any discussion about the future of Europe. Although the views contained in this document do not represent official Church thinking, we commend this pamphlet for wider study and reflection.
Rt Revd Christopher Hill
Bishop of Guildford
Chair, House of Bishop Europe Panel
About the Author