Atomic meltdown in Japan, war in Libya, famine in Africa, loods in Australia, bankrupt sta- tes in Europe. The daily news is full of crises and catastrophes. A disaster at every turn. It is hard to close your eyes, but it is also dificult to understand, to understand that humanity has been overtaken, overtaken by the progresses in technology it has accomplished, from never-ending growth, from the ever further, faster, better and cheaper. We drive fast cars, shop and consume. But the price of our prosperity, for the world we made for ourselves from nuclear power stations, aeroplanes and the internet, is high.
Global social inequality is growing. Globalisation is not living up to its promise that the whole world would beneit from borderless interaction. There are winners and losers, but more and more often even the winners are losing out. Even the catastrophes in the world have become globalised. When loans or securities are sold in America, when the environment in Japan becomes contaminated by radiation, when a tdhicet awtohro lreu lweso rwldit.h Maenr ikreoln, iOsbta imn aL ibaynad, iSt aarfkfeocztys. They show sympathy, promise aid, put together rescue packages and throw bombs. Modern crisis management: save what can be saved in retrospect.
When will the world wake up? When will Europe wake up?
Europe is a prime example for the recognition that together is better than alone. It is a paradox that in a world in which national problems become global ones and no country is truly independent, national interests take precedence over shared and responsible policies. But this paradox is all around us. Europe is at most an example for the recognition, that together is stronger. How often it is lacking though in practice.
Europe can only be successful as a project when national interests are placed below common interests in priority. European integration must not be limited to the economic sort. Europe must act with one voice for the climate and human rights. But this doesn‘t work, as long as France and Germany protect their automobile industries. Political goals must not be oriented only according to economic growth. We need to get away from this growth-obsession.
The ecological negligence of the USA and Chi- na is a big problem, but this cannot justify European negligence as well. Europe must act as a leader, speaking with one voice and above all the voice of the European citizens. Europe needs to be communicated and needs political legitimacy. As a mere union of countries with a common market and a gigantic bureaucratic institution, Europe will not reach its potential and will not meet its responsibilities.
The fact that we are so well off in Europe is in part due to the fact that other people in the world are badly off. Our prosperity is based on a particularly steep rate of development, as well as cheap raw materials and protectionism.
There are two reasons why Europe carries a particular responsibility when it comes to the international community: irst due to its modern comforts, the high level of education and suc- cessful democracy. Second due to the suffering produced by our prosperity. Europe must not only act to bring about a better world, but must also let go of some of its own privileges. The protectionism of the European common agricultural policy cannot be maintained indeinitely at the same time as politicians speak of campaigning against hunger and poverty. How can European politicians advocate peace and democracy in North Africa, when before they supported the very same autocrats? We seal our borders, with the word “stability” towering above everything else. What gives Europe the right, though, to turn back uncounted numbers of refugees? What price must be paid for stability, and above all, who will pay this price?
The world is being shaken daily, and with it our gleaming palace. But every day, the facade gets a new coat of paint and only the foundations do not get replaced. How great must the injustice be? How numerous the catastrophes and how great must the danger be, before something changes? The people seem to be slowly awakening and a sense of resistance is stirring. It can only be hoped that this is not suppressed from those seeking power, from economic interests or from the radical adhesion to an ideology doomed to fail.