Since 4 May 2008 Canon Dr Gary Wilton has been the Church of England’s Representative to the EU Institutions and Canon of the Pro-Cathedral Church of Holy Trinity, Brussels.
In 2009 he established the Church of England office in Brussels and initiated an internship programme in partnership with ICS. Canon Wilton contributes regularly to seminars and conferences in the European Parliament and is in ongoing dialogue with officials at all levels in the Commission and the Council. As well as working with ecumenical colleagues Canon Wilton has developed good relationships with representatives from other faith communities.
He is passionately concerned to enable the dioceses to engage with MEPs and the offices of the different regions in Brussels. As Associate Chaplain of the Pro-Cathedral he leads a vibrant and growing ‘fresh expression’ community for people in their 20s and 30s who work in the institutions or NGOs.
Prior to taking up this appointment he spent 10 years in theological education, first as Associate Principal at the Church Army’s college in Sheffield and subsequently as Head of Post-Graduate Studies in Theology & Religious Studies at York St John University.
At key moments during the history of the European Union and its antecedents, the Church of England in various guises has contributed to the debate about the development of the European project – its vision, its purpose and its values. The accession of the UK to the EEC, the expansion of the Community and the discussions about the Constitutional Treaty that culminated with the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, have all provoked significant contributions from the Christian churches including the Church of England.
This year marks the first hesitant steps of the Union into the new world of the Lisbon Treaty. At the same time it finds itself pre-occupied by the challenges of a global economic and financial crisis and by international disagreement about how to respond to climate change. Individually and communally the member states of the Union face a decade of economic turbulence and financial stringency. In the face of a reinvigorated US leadership, and the new found political strength of China and India, the Union’s much prized leadership within the international climate change negotiations has all but evaporated.
Such a period of internal and external uncertainty necessitates that Europe gains renewed inspiration from its shared vision and values. This will enable it to make strategic decisions for the future in a rooted and coherent way. The Lisbon Treaty articulates that the Union draws inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.
In the last decade of the 20th Century, European or universal values became an integral part of the intentional vocabulary of the EU institutions. They are usually expressed in inclusive terms in order to gain broad based attention and support. This laudable inclusivity does not always do justice to the complexity and richness of the inter-relationships between the Union’s sources of inspiration. It can also contribute to a relativising process, which suggests that all sources are equal, re-interpreting or downplaying key elements of the history of the Union. As secular organisations, in the pluralist world of the 21st Century, the institutions of the EU can tend to take for granted or avoid aspects of Europe’s Christian inheritance. If the EU is to draw inspiration from its cultural, religious and humanist inheritance with integrity, it needs to be more at ease with its Christian history and to articulate this within a Europe that is spiritually hungry for its ‘values’ to be substantial and life-giving.
The Schuman Declaration
2010 is the 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration (see page 24), made on the 9th May 1950 in the Salon de l’Horloge at the Quai d’Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry). This very modest public statement has long been recognised as the moment when Europe as we know it today was born. Very few journalists were present. There were no photographers in attendance, nor radio or television to record proceedings [Schuman subsequently recorded his address for posterity]. The juxtaposition of this key Community anniversary alongside the hesitant enactment of the contested Lisbon Treaty focuses the need for the Europe of the 21st Century to attend to the values that gave it birth.
The post-1945 generation of statesmen and politicians dreamt of creating a Europe free from the devastation of episodic industrialised warfare. Drawing on the preparatory work of Jean Monnet and working in collaboration with the Chancellor of West Germany, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman, a deeply committed Roman Catholic, anticipated the creation of a pan-national community that would embed peace in Europe. Central to his proposal was the placing of the primary means of waging war – coal and steel - under a common High Authority thereby making war ‘materially impossible’. It was the political expression of the Christian values of forgiveness and reconciliation and the precursor to permanent peace.
Although a surprisingly brief document, the Schuman Declaration thus had at its heart a radical economic proposal as the means of achieving and sustaining peace and reconciliation. Despite the inauspicious start, the succeeding 60 years of economic solidarity have contributed not only to peace and reconciliation between historic adversaries, but also to unprecedented prosperity in Europe; and the creation of the world’s only multi-national democracy involving 27 member states with a continent-wide population of 500 million people. At the same time the High Authority has been transformed into today’s European Commission – with competencies and values far beyond those articulated in the Declaration.
Today within the European institutions the name of Robert Schuman has gained a saint-like quality. His monument stands proudly at the entrance to the Commission’s Berlaymont building, the nearby metro and railway stations bear his name, whilst EU officials have informally named an annual ‘holy’ day in his honour. Within the Roman Catholic Church, Schuman has long been a candidate for beatification by the Pope.
Along with many of his peers, De Gasperi, Monnet and Adenauer, Schuman’s Christian faith was not restricted to the private sphere but was the inspiration for a life dedicated to public service and to the rebuilding of Europe upon secure Christian foundations. Schuman and his peers worked with a profound sense that it was their vocation to restore and re-unite Europe to peace and prosperity. Before attending the Paris conference of 1951 they retreated for meditation and prayer at a Benedictine monastery on the Rhine.
As Christian Democrats they shared a common Christian foundation which they actively translated into the political, social and economic values which would shape and underpin the nascent European Community. Although Schuman’s initial focus was on coal and steel as the means of making peace his underlying concern was to embed democracy in Europe not only as a bulwark against war, but as the authentic expression of Christian political economy. For Schuman democracy owed its very existence to Christianity and its commitment to human dignity, freedom and brotherly love.
Robert Schuman – Christian Statesman & Father of Europe (1886-1963)
Robert Schuman was born to Roman Catholic parents in 1886 in Clausen, a suburb of Luxembourg. His father had been born a Frenchman before being given German nationality after the inclusion of Alsace-Lorraine into Germany in 1871. Not surprisingly he was fluent in French, Luxembourgish, German, Latin, Greek (classical and NT) and English. As a student he crossed and re-crossed the French-German border to study law, history, economics, politics, theology, classics and philosophy at the universities of Berlin, Munich, Bonn and Strasbourg.
As a young man living at the border of two warring nations Schuman took his Christian faith most seriously. In 1909 he participated in a pilgrimage to Rome to mark the beatification of Joan of Arc. In 1912 he was joint leader of a German delegation to an International ‘Peace through Law’ congress at Leuven, Belgium and in 1913 he attended a Paschal Retreat at Maria Laach with Heinrich Platz, a Catholic pacifist and Heinrich Bruening a future German Chancellor.
In 1919, aged 33, he was elected as one of the youngest deputies to the French Assembly. During the 1920s he led the development of a new legal code which reconciled earlier French and pre-war German legislation for Alsace with mainstream French law. For much of the interwar period he was associated with the Christian peace movement.
During the Second World War Schuman was captured by the Nazis before escaping to work for the resistance in occupied France. Re-elected to public office in France in 1946 he variously served as Finance Minister, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister, working closely with Jean Monnet throughout. In 1947 he welcomed Churchill to Metz for his first ‘European’ speech and was a signatory of the Marshall Plan. In 1948 he was co-author and signatory of the North Atlantic Treaty and a Statute signatory for the Council of Europe. He stated that the Council of Europe laid ‘the foundations for spiritual and political co-operation from which the European spirit will be born and the principle of a vast and long-lasting supranational union that has neither the objective nor the consequence of weakening our connection to the nation’ (Schuman 1949). He also recognised that the treaty commitment of the European nations to the rule of law and human rights was an unprecedented development in the history of the continent and key to its future.
In 1958 Robert Schuman was unanimously elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Assemblies and acclaimed uniquely as the ‘Father of Europe’.
Mayne variously describe Schuman as ‘monkish, bookish, almost saintly’. He was a biblical scholar and an expert on medieval philosophy, including Thomas Aquinas. He was also a Knight of the Order of Pope Pius IX. ‘His faith sustained him’, he was deeply meditative and ‘lived simply like a priest’ (Mayne 1996 p.24).
Schuman spoke and wrote widely about the European project, creating a substantial canon of work. His own papers are deposited at the Departmental Archive of the Moselle. In addition there is an extensive body of literature about Schuman most of which is in French, his native language. This can be accessed at the EU Commission Library or the Robert Schuman Foundation.
It is perhaps surprising therefore, given how important Schuman’s Christian faith was in inspiring his political vision for Europe, that educational materials produced by the European Commission make no reference to Robert Schuman’s Christian convictions.
Europe’s Christian Inheritance
The public expression of Christian faith was part and parcel of the Europe in which Schuman lived and worked. Many of his political peers would make open reference to God, or Christianity or prayer or to the Church. Such utterances were not only permitted but expected in a Europe so profoundly shaped by the message of the Christian Gospel and where the history of the Christian Church was so interweaved with the history of the continent. Even Winston Churchill, who described himself as more a buttress than a pillar of the Church of England made frequent public reference to the Christian faith.
With the exceptions of Van Rompuy, Pottering, Buzek and others from explicitly Christian political traditions, most European politicians of the present generation are reluctant to give emphasis to the fundamental connections between the Christian faith and the values of the contemporary European Union. This is to the detriment of both the Church and the wider political community, including those who hold to secular creeds.
Some of these tensions were exposed during the debate about the mention of God or Christianity in the preamble to the Constitution of the European Union. Those who were concerned to support the secular nature of the European institutions and those who were anxious not to offend or exclude other faith traditions combined to ensure that explicit reference to Christianity was rejected. The Churches and others supported the mention of God not to exclude other sources of inspiration, but to secure inclusion of the continent-wide Christian heritage which is so easily marginalised in the contemporary public arena:
“The question of the source of values and principles is profoundly significant and this is why many Europeans are pressing for a recognition of the importance for many citizens of the Union of naming the divine source of values and principles. This should obviously be done in a way that does not marginalise those who would argue that they derived their values and principles from different sources but the Union will be weaker if it excludes faith.” (Chartres 2003, p.473).
The Christian Contribution to European Democracy
It has long been the concern of the present Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Rowan Williams, that European political actors from all political traditions should engage with the root values of our shared democratic culture. In his address to the European Policy Centre in November 2005, the Archbishop offered an overview of the history of the Church in Europe. He emphasised the pivotal contribution of the Church to the evolution of European liberal democracy and argued that dialogue with the Church continued to be important for the health of democracy in contemporary Europe.
The Christian Church is the most extensive and longest enduring institution in the history of Europe, whether in its eastern or western forms. The Roman-based Church legislated widely across the cultural and linguistic boundaries of the continent and beyond. After the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church retained its international reach but now shared and contested the public space with new civil authorities as well as the new national Churches. In the 18thCentury the reaction against traditional forms of authority including that of the Church led to the emergence of the Enlightenment model of universal secular legality. In different parts of Europe, Catholic universalism and the common traditions of custom and mutuality were replaced with a secular system of legally framed equality and freedom largely separated from religious sanction. Throughout the centuries the Churches in their various guises jostled for space in the communal realm, quarrelling and making deals with the state authorities and each other, and in the process shaped and re-shaped the dimensions of the public space and the shared values of the continent.
Archbishop Williams argued that the complex and evolving relationships between the Churches, common law, canon law and Romanised law meant that political power in Western Europe was always the subject of ‘negotiation and balance’. The power of the state could be questioned by the Church and was restrained by feudal and other obligations to the people. The Church was also required to think about and rethink, its place in society. The Christian history of the continent is not solely about the history of the faith but also the history of a political argument. A political argument which was less about debating the appropriateness of Church-State relationships – and more fundamentally about the sharing and shaping of public space.
The State is restrained by law and from a Christian perspective is also answerable to God. The whole political sphere, including the pursuit of international order, lies open before God. Those who make decisions and act within it are ultimately accountable to a power higher than any human assembly.
It can therefore be challenged by stakeholder communities including the Church. Notions of pluralism, creative engagement with the state and recognised limitations on the power of the state underpin liberal democracy. As Archbishop Williams noted, “Europe is what it is because of its Christian history”, even if at times the Church has resisted liberalising developments.
“Yet the Reformation and Enlightenment protests upon which much of 'modernity' in Europe rests did not come from nowhere; they were centrally theological disputes, even when they were resolved in ways inimical to the authority and public influence of faith. If we are unaware today of this background, we shall misunderstand where the liberal tradition comes from; and we shall be more than ever vulnerable to the sort of unhistorical optimism.” (Williams 2005)
Western liberal democracy is so shaped because at its roots and within its midst the presence and participation of the Church is a persistent reminder that the state does not have ultimate or religious claims on its subjects. When the Church is excluded from the public realm liberal modernity is at risk of becoming an illiberal pseudo-religion making ultimate claims for itself – creating secular tyranny. The presence of the Church continues to be a challenge to unmitigated demands of capitalism or Marxism. It is a reminder that the state is always under scrutiny and that history is ‘still unfolding, still unfinished’.
The Europe shaped by interaction with the Church has given the world a model in which argument and diversity limit the authority claims of the state. When religious communities are acknowledged as partners in public debate, their creative engagement with secular authorities is likely to lead to authentically European outcomes that benefit the common good. A mature European polity should have the confidence to actively seek partnership with the component communities of the state, including the Churches and religious organizations. Doing so knowingly is not a sign of an anti-democratic theocratisation of the continent, but rather the opposite – healthy and constructive pluralism. Dialogue with the Church, religious communities and other values-based organizations enables the Union to engage with its inherited values with integrity and to bring them to bear again on the policy solutions sought to contemporary economic, financial and ecological crises.
The Contemporary Significance of the Schuman Declaration
Robert Schuman made his Declaration at a time of considerable international economic and political instability. The Europe of 1950 was still economically, socially and politically scarred by the devastation of the Second World War. The breakdown of relationships with Soviet Russia and their eastern European sphere of influence raised the possibility of a third world war. The existence of nuclear weapons made such a prospect too terrible to contemplate.
Schuman and his colleagues perceived that traditional national approaches to economic and political reconstruction were as much a part of the problem as they were part of the solution. The way forward had to be communal, international and possibly federal. Long-standing economic competitors and military foes would need to cede something of their national independence to make common cause and to build a common future.
The globalised nature of the contemporary world economy means that individual nation states are unable to protect themselves from the turbulence of the current economic and financial crisis. Unilateral national action is likely to have only limited effect for a limited period. It may also have unintended destabilising impacts on neighbouring economies. The run on deposits at other European banks after the Irish government offered a 100% guarantee on the security of bank deposits in Ireland in 2008 is but one example.
The global nature of climate change even more fundamentally exposes the limitations of the nation state. Greenhouse gases do not respect national boundaries, while the historic and current emissions from all nation states combine to undermine the climate and jeopardize some of the most vulnerable nations on the planet.
No single nation can insulate itself from climate change or the contagion of a regional financial crisis. Pooling sovereignty and establishing common rules-based responses builds mutual defences against common threats and spreads the benefits of stability and prosperity. The way forward can only involve nations agreeing to cede some of their sovereignty for the benefit of others.
If this lesson is true for Europe it is equally true for the global society of the 21st Century. Threats to security and prosperity such as climate change, global pandemics or organized crime cannot be met successfully with only the traditional tools of hard power. These types of threats to our security and prosperity, which will only multiply as we move deeper into the 21st Century, can only be tackled successfully by deploying exactly the type of soft power that Europe has developed over the last half Century.
In the Schuman Declaration we see an outline sketch of such a communal way forward – one that is shaped by an indelible Christian understanding that all women and men are made in the image of God; that all people have an inviolable sacred worth and dignity. Following from this, men and women are made and called to love and help one another, and to live in peace. The following sections look in greater depth at key features of the Schuman Declaration, both in terms of their original purpose, but also their relevance for contemporary Europe.
(1) World Peace
World Peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilisation is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations.
The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable but materially impossible.
… this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.
The opening sentences of the Schuman Declaration make clear that peace was the primary aim of this revolutionary proposal. Peace in Europe needed to begin between France and Germany. Europe at peace would then have much to offer the peace and stability of the rest of the world.
The desire for world peace is shared by the world faiths and by secular humanists. In the Christian tradition it is found at the heart of the beatitudes. Christians also understand that the Atonement of Christ offers to the world hope of universal peace and reconciliation. This hope has been the inspiration for generations of Christian peacemakers.
The genius of Schuman’s peace-making proposal was to move away from traditional military solutions and to focus on the shared control of the economic resources that could be used to make peace instead of war. The removal of the means of making war from France and Germany would make peace not only achievable but sustainable. Whilst NATO inherited the responsibility for western European security, the embryonic European Community focused first on coal and steel and subsequently on wider economic, social and political issues as the means of sustaining peace in Europe.
The ultimate success of Schuman’s approach was the eventual integration of several countries from the former Soviet bloc into the EU, without a single tank movement. Peace between the member states of the EU is now taken for granted.
Each stage of the enlargement of the European Community has further extended peace across the continent – making a pan-European war all the more unlikely. This justification for enlargement has not been clearly explained to the populations of the existing member states. European citizens have remained largely indifferent to the Union’s enlargement even if the resulting free movement of labour has contributed to societal anxieties about employment.
Peace has become the norm between the member states in Europe, but the terrorist activity in Madrid and London act as reminders that the nations of Europe still need to work together in the face of new and different threats. Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 also warns that the relative peace and tranquillity enjoyed by some in Europe is not yet the norm across the European continent and highlights the importance of investing in a coherent neighbourhood policy that might provide the conditions necessary for stability and growth.
Other parts of the world continue to be riven by war. Since 2003, often at the request of the UN, the EU has been involved in conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction. It has led numerous UN peace-making operations. In 2007 the Commission launched its Instrument for Stability to increase its work in the areas of conflict prevention, crisis management and peace building. Projects include mediation, confidence building, interim administrations, strengthening the rule of law, transitional justice or the role of natural resources in conflict. Under its Peace–Building Partnerships the Commission seeks to strengthen civilian expertise for peace-building activities through dialogue between civil society and the EU institutions.
Such a range of activities on a global scale are far beyond even Schuman’s prophetic imagination. The EU has gained global respect for its ‘soft’ activities which promote its values and which are of benefit to peace in the world. It remains true however that the contribution that Europe makes to wider peace and security efforts could be radically enhanced if EU member states were to pool their resources and co-operate more closely.
Within the Union, different component communities have enhanced the ‘soft’ activities that have embedded peace. The Churches of Europe have also actively contributed to peace-making in Europe. The Commission of Roman Catholic Bishops conferences of the European Union [COMECE] and the Conference of European Churches [CEC] have worked extensively across the continent to strengthen relationships between the Churches and across political divides.
Arising from the bomb devastation of Coventry during the Second World War, the International Centre for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral is a model of Church-based reconciliation ministry which has much to offer reconciliation work across the world. For a 21st Century Europe where the integration of Muslim communities into wider society is a major concern, the reconciliation work of the St Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation is also a model that policy-makers need to learn from. The peace-building efforts of diplomats and soldiers must be supported by the resources of business intelligence networks and of the faith communities.
For Schuman, peace and reconciliation were foundational elements in the rebuilding of Europe. Peace was the first and the last stage in a virtuous circle of nation states coming together, sharing power, creating community, supporting one another, fostering prosperity and contributing to the wider peace. Churches have a continuing role to play here given their special responsibility in the area of reconciliation. In a world where right is rarely wholly on one side, the Churches have a particular responsibility to articulate the faults, wrongs and inconsistencies of all parties to a dispute, including those of the country to which the Church belongs. This should not lead to relativism or a sense of moral equivalence between conflicting parties (though it might). But it does highlight and underline the universality of human sinfulness and a willingness to be aware of and penitent about this.
(2) Unity in Europe
In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France…
Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan.
The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action must in the first place concern these two countries.
..a first step in the federation of Europe
Closely linked to the maintenance of peace in Europe, Schuman believed that the nations and people of Europe should be ‘united’. A ‘united’ Europe would be much less likely to go to war against itself. Beyond his specific proposal for coal and steel, the French Foreign Secretary did not delineate what a united Europe might look like, and used the word federal without giving it substance. Nonetheless he recognised that the ancient feuding between France and Germany needed to be replaced by a genuine friendship before a long term European peace could be secured.
The process of European (re)–unification would be evolutionary and voluntary. No single plan would ever be sufficient in scope, nor would it gain the required pan-European consent. European unity was far from automatic because it depended on the nation states coming together of their own volition. But step by step the Union has grown from its early years as a customs union, through the development of shared institutions and policies, to the creation of a monetary union, to the aspiration to act as a major player on the 21st Century global stage.
From the beginning, the European project was facilitated by the deliberate vagueness that has both aided and hindered its progress ever since. Its vagueness has consistently enabled the European nations to come the negotiating table to progress their own interests and to find common cause with others. Not surprisingly in every decade of its history the EU has been beset by questions of identity, purpose and destination.
For much of the second half of the 20th Century Europe was even more divided than it had been during its first 50 years. The division of the Soviet-controlled East from the West during the immediate post-WW2 period until 1989, is easily remembered. However, the totalitarian regimes of Southern Europe, Greece, Portugal and Spain were also a distinctive block functioning at some political distance from Western Europe. At the same time, another group of nations had declared themselves avowedly neutral: Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland. Prior to 1973 the UK with its weaker European linkages preferred to stand alone and to look to its ‘special’ transatlantic and commonwealth relationships.
In 2010 it is all too easy to forget that the current political map of the EU is less than five years old. It was last amended in 2007 with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania. Whilst not all European countries are yet members of the EU, the creation of a Union of 27 member states is a remarkable achievement. Despite being characterised by a host of complex and insuperable internal divisions, the nations of Europe have come together and enjoy a degree of unity, of which Schuman and his peers could only dream.
Enlargement of the Union has also provoked concern for ‘unity’ with non-members of the community. This is particularly apparent in its European Neighbourhood Policy designed to strengthen relationships with neighbouring states to the east after the enlargement of 2004. The Union offers a ‘privileged relationship’ with neighbouring states on the basis of a mutual commitment to democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development. The stronger the commitment to shared values the more ambitious the EU is for its neighbourhood relationships.
This said, divisions in Europe still exist. Cyprus in particular remains divided. The whole of the island is part of the Union. However, EU legislation is currently restricted to the south in accordance with Protocol 10 of the Accession Treaty of 2003. All Turkish Cypriots are recognised as EU citizens and benefit greatly from EU economic and social initiatives designed to bring Turkish Cypriots closer to other European Union citizens. The failure to resolve this conflict is a continuing blemish on the EU’s reputation.
While the EU’s 21st Century enlargement is seen as a triumph, the point needs to be made that such a rapid inclusion of 200 million people with fragile democratic traditions could only add to the democratic strains within the Union. For the majority of citizens Europe is becoming less united and more distant. The sense of the ‘European Them’ and the ‘National Us’ remains strong whether citizens are British or French or Polish.
Active participation in European Parliamentary elections is on a downward trajectory contributing to the democratic deficit and adding to the sense of distance between the citizens and Brussels and between the citizens of the member states. While it is true that the EU’s complexity is confusing to many citizens, this alone does not explain the democratic deficit as the hollowing out of representative democracy is not just a European parliamentary phenomenon. The continuing decline of political parties and the decaying public trust in political institutions across Europe has created a dangerous new vacuum that Europe and its member states need to correct. If the failure of the EU’s constitutional treaty illustrates anything it is that the consent of Europe’s citizens need to be earned.
The Schuman Declaration, as the founding document of the EU, addresses only nation states. By 1957 the shared experience of the European Coal and Steel Community led the Treaty of Rome to speak of laying the ‘foundations of an ever closer union between the peoples of Europe’. The challenge for the member states and the institutions of the expanded Union of the 21st Century is to give meaningful expression to the unity of the Union and to nurture the democratic engagement of the citizens.
The EU’s institutions, like all political institutions need to be constantly renewed – if there is not renewal then there is decay. The EU’s enlargement is continuing apace – more quickly than it is able to attend to the democratic dislocation of its existing citizens. Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey are all candidate countries. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia are all potential candidates, whilst Iceland’s Parliament has voted to begin accession negotiations with the Union.
Turkey, home to Istanbul, a European city with a population of 9 million and enjoying an extensive Mediterranean coastline, sees its future as a member of the European Union. Its candidature raises profound questions about European unity, identity and the nature of European values of human rights, freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
The Archbishop of Canterbury addressed such questions in his address to the European Policy Centre in 2005. He argued that to remain healthy, western liberal democracy needed to be able to welcome and engage with “the stranger including the Muslim stranger in its midst, as a partner in the work of proper liberalism, the continuing argument about common good and just governance” (Williams 2005).
At the current time, public opinion across the EU often expresses concern about the loss of national identity and the freedom to act, in the face of a perceived all-consuming Brussels bureaucracy. To stay healthy a mature and united Europe needs to continue to seek ‘effective partnership with the component communities of the state, including religious bodies’ (Williams 2005). Such partnership with its inevitable place for dialogue with the Churches would make a significant contribution to the healing of the democratic deficit and the distance between peoples that besets the Union.
(3) The Sharing of Sovereignty
It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organisation open to the participation of the other countries in Europe.
By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries…
The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority’s decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures of appeal will be provided for against the decisions of the Authority.
The creation of the common High Authority with its delegated powers over the coal and steel industries was at the heart of Schuman’s revolutionary proposal. The common High Authority was the foundation of today’s European Commission and European Court of Justice. Schuman was very aware of the revolutionary nature of his proposal: ‘Never before have states entrusted, nor even envisaged delegating a fraction of their sovereignty to an independent supranational authority’ (Schuman 1950).
Somehow Schuman managed to combine the need to promote national self-interest with the creation of a wider shared interest. This was his way of bypassing the traditional unilateral expressions of nationalism which had brought the continent to destruction. Membership of the Community would be open and the Europe envisaged by Schuman was to be shaped by freedom and self-determination. In contrast to the recent episodes of military occupation and the imposition of rule by one sovereign nation over other subject nations, the new Europe would have an open and voluntary membership. The small nations, which were demonstrably so vulnerable to military threat, would have the same equal right to existence and membership as their larger neighbours.
Underpinning the declaration was a fundamental respect for national and individual liberty. Respect for the self-determination of each country by its neighbours was essential to peace and essential to working together.
Schuman argued that the creation of a supranational organisation did not undermine the nation state but enabled it to operate on a broader and higher plain. He was committed to the historical reality of the nation states and had no desire to see them disappear. He recognised that the nations would need to work together for the long term. Free membership did not mean that members of the community could opt in and out of membership at will or in pursuit of their own interests. The nations of Europe would be bound together by international treaty and would need to negotiate for their own legitimate needs in relationship to the legitimate needs of their partners.
Key to building confidence between the members of the Community would be the creation of an appeals procedure entrusted to a respected arbiter which would exercise binding authority. The ceding of power to an arbiter with binding authority was a requirement on all and vital to the creation of a Common High Authority. If the Common High Authority was the forerunner of the European Commission – the arbiter appointed by common agreement was the forerunner of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, known as the ‘Court of Justice’.
Although vital to the political functioning of the contemporary European Union, the Court of Justice has only a limited public profile in the member states. It is regularly confused with the European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg.
The role of the Court of Justice is to uphold Community law. It arbitrates between EU member states, EU institutions, businesses and individuals. Arbitration often means interpreting and adjudicating upon treaty agreements or Community legislation. The court consists of one judge from each member state and each is appointed with the agreement of the member states and need to be qualified to hold the highest judicial positions in their sending country.
The existence of the Court of Justice symbolises and gives substance to the nature of the European Union as a Community based on law; the rule of law being a fundamental value of the Union, drawn from its Christian heritage and its respect for the dignity of human beings. For Schuman: ‘the rule of law safeguarded a common heritage and argued that every person placed under its jurisdiction should enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms’. This 'created the foundations of a spiritual and political cooperation, from which the European spirit will be born, the principle of a vast and enduring supranational union’ (Schuman 1949).
The sharing of elements of the sovereignty of both victor and vanquished countries in the creation of common institutions was a remarkable expression of forgiveness and reconciliation. Concern that stronger nations should give smaller or weaker nations equal status was a remarkable expression of solidarity, of agreeing to work together for the common good.
It will be built through concrete achievements which will first create a de facto solidarity.
The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development…
The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.
In this way, there will be realised simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to another by sanguinary divisions.
The task with which this common High Authority will be charged will be that of securing in the shortest possible time the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality; the supply of coal and steel on identical terms to the French and German markets, as well as to the markets of other member countries; the development in common of exports to other countries; the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries.
At the end of the Second World War most of Europe was economically as well as politically broken. Even the UK, which was in a politically strong position, was economically exhausted and near bankrupt. From this place of shared economic ‘poverty’ the declaration sought to facilitate the sharing of the fruits of economic reconstruction. Although France and Germany were identified explicitly, all of Europe was invited to participate, with the more powerful nations encouraged to work mutually and creatively with less powerful nations.
While the scope of the declaration was broad, its initial focus was narrow: the shared horizontal and vertical reconstruction of a coal and steel industry needing rebuilding, restructuring, and modernising; with the purpose of raising quality and ensuring equality of supply to the French and German markets. Provision would be made to support the industries through the period of transition and customs duties would be removed to create a single market.
Schuman argued that such desperately needed concrete achievements could lead to a de facto solidarity and confident interdependence between members of the Community. This would bind their national interest into a shared interest and would reduce the capacity of individual countries to declare war independently on others or even each other. The successful integration of such essential supplies as coal and steel would also create the foundations for further shared and peaceable economic development.
The two key tools for expressing and furthering solidarity within the Community have been the Common Agricultural Policy and Regional Policy. The Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] was the major outcome from the 1957 Treaty of Rome. It was designed to support a struggling agricultural sector and to secure food supplies for the member states. From the outset the CAP was a German recognition of its relative industrial strength and an expression of support for French farmers.
Regional policy gained a new impetus after the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 which led to a new Structural and Cohesion policy designed to aid the development of the weaker economies in the Union. By 2013 regional policy will account for 35% of the total EU budget. In 2010, for the first time ever, the 12 members who joined the Union between 2004 and 2007 will receive more than half of Cohesion and Structural Funds (52%). The same countries receive nearly 20% of CAP funding.
This said, significant inequalities still exist between EU citizens living in the east and the south of the Union compared to the west and the north. Reforming the EU budget has always been mired in controversy. Budget debates all too often reflect the political trade-offs between the different vested interests of member states rather than a division of resources according to the challenges facing Europe or for that matter the priorities of its citizens.
The current economic and financial crisis has impacted all the member states. The robustness and depth of the economies of the south and east have been gravely tested. The natural response for each of the member states is to focus on their own economic and financial problems. The challenge for the EU as a whole is to ensure that expressions of solidarity between member states are translated into actions which make a real difference to the lives of the most vulnerable citizens of the Union.
(5) Solidarity with the wider World
The production will be offered to the world as a whole without distinction or exception, with the aim of contributing to raising living standards and to promoting peaceful achievements. With increased resources Europe will be able to pursue the achievement of one of its essential tasks, viz the development of the African continent.
Schuman not only sought to promote the improvement of living standards and the reduction of inequalities between industrial workers within Europe, he also extended Europe’s concern to Africa. As the French Foreign Secretary he was aware of French and other European colonial interests and saw the development of the continent as an essential responsibility. This was the beginning of the current EU relationship with Africa with its various expressions of solidarity and support including substantial development aid.