Last weekend marked the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the European Union’s foundational agreement.
The party for the occasion was all set, except for one thing: EU elites were confused about which tune to play, caught between celebrating past conquests and focusing on the word of the moment — speed. Which is to say, a Europe going at two or more speeds, depending on who we’re asking.
Today Europeans need neither empty exercises in nostalgia nor discussions about who should go down the fast track and who down the slow one. The key question is not how fast we should go, or in what vehicle (be it a more federal one or a more inter-governmental one), but what direction the European project is headed and who it’s leaving by the wayside.
The celebrations in Rome were marked by the publication of a white paper in which European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker established various possible scenarios for the EU’s future — keep the current rhythm, step on the accelerator, apply the brakes, or go into reverse. Not a word was offered on the substance, the policies, that would define these routes. Nothing on youth unemployment, the migration crisis, cuts, violence against women, or climate change. In an umpteenth display of ignorance, Europe’s elite closed their eyes to the crises affecting the continent and the concerns of those experiencing them.