EU is a unique achievement
HOW can we forget that the driving force behind the beginnings of the EU was peace?
Men like Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman spearheaded the search to make peace permanent. The horrific memories of the millions who died in World War I, only to find 21 years later another world war taking more millions of lives, led them to propose practical ways of pursuing peace.
How can we forget that the start of this story was the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951? The founding fathers saw this as a way Europe could contribute to world peace. In the Treaty of Paris, setting up the ECSC, they stated their hope that it would make a contribution through economic development. They wanted to “substitute age old rivalries and countries divided by bloody conflicts” with a “merging of essential interests”.
So in a small way in 1951 six nations – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – at war six years before, started a journey which now sees 28 nations working together in the EU. This is an amazing achievement. It is unique in the history of the world. All other multi-country institutions have relied on the force of the partner establishing it. The EU is a guarantor of democracy. Countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain and, lately, many of the states freed from Soviet rule, have joined.
Each country stays independent and agrees to work together to help maintain peace and justice. It is not a onecap-fits-all institution. The UK has several opt-outs from generally agreed policies which include, for example, not joining the euro.
I hope we have an opportunity to vote on whatever deal – or no deal – is coming to us, with the option to stay if we feel that it is for the best. When I see that Presidents Putin and Trump want us to leave I’m even more convinced we should stay.