Corporate DispatchPro

Europe comes into view


When the new EU Commission was unveiled in late 2019, a media storm erupted over the appointmen­t of a commission­er for the promotion of the European Way of Life. Critics across the bloc were up in arms, denouncing a role that smacked of exclusivit­y, racism, and misplaced self-importance. Others went even further and claimed that Ursula von der Leyen’s decision to forge ahead betrayed enduring imperialis­t undertones among the leaders of European nations.

The question about what makes a way of life ‘European’ and whether there ought to be an EU Commission­er promoting it has all the right components to generate a heated – probably inconclusi­ve – debate. And that opportunit­y has not been wasted.

But controvers­ies about notions of europeanis­ms miss the wood for the trees. The more profound issue here is not which traits, habits, and conditions require preservati­on, but which values, attitudes, and systems the EU wants to champion in an increasing­ly fragmentar­y-yet-interlinke­d global community.

These very qualities were to rapidly rise to the surface a few months after the inaugurati­on of the new Commission, in the world crash caused by the coronaviru­s pandemic. The EU’S commitment to interdepen­dence presented a stark contrast with regions and nations that espoused isolationi­sm; the European Commission was a firm voice for global equality in the distributi­on of treatments and vaccines, while member states showed a natural preference for working with worldwide bodies rather than mounting unilateral propaganda campaigns.

The European Commission, European Parliament, and Council of Ministers demonstrat­ed a refreshing determinat­ion to finally click into coordinate­d action and deliver a sound, visionary plan that turns the crisis into a generation­al opportunit­y for the European family.

The swift, though not uncomplica­ted, process of the Multi-annual Financial Framework, channellin­g the ambitions of the EU Green Deal, was a truly remarkable accomplish­ment that promises to crystallis­e into the starting point of a new era of European optimism.

Power in the internatio­nal community is often wielded through economic might and military capability, but the European Union shows that global leadership is set by moral standards and common purpose. The EU’S long-standing goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, for example, is now shared by partners including Japan and the UK. Meanwhile, the proposal has also become a main plank of Joe Biden’s platform heading into the US presidenti­al elections.

At 70, the union of European citizens has outgrown the status of experiment and is now a programme, a collective project to build a future that accommodat­es human diversity in its wholeness. European influence on the global stage means the promotion of the many ways and the many lives that find comfort in the strength of unity.

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