The EU: (DIS)United in Diversity?

By: Aliasha Zafar

Image credit: Irish Times

EU: its historical foundations


The year 1945 would mark the termination of the Second World War and the initiation of gradual efforts towards a peaceful, united and prosperous Europe.


Only 5 years later, the Schuman Declaration of 1950 would signify the first step towards a unified and progressive Europe — making wars between historic rivals “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible” (Schuman, 1950).


This goal was achieved not so much through the balance of military power, but instead, through a planned interconnectedness of the European economies.


Indeed, the rationale behind this affair of supra-state integration would see economic cooperation and interdependence take place as a necessary tool to make war between European nations “both impractical and unthinkable” (ibidem).


The Schuman Declaration (1950) would reflect this effort and would represent the milestone necessary paving the way for the formal establishment of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) in 1951 through the Treaty of Paris.


Throughout the years, economic integration would, gradually deepen all the way into the political level, thanks to the Maastricht Treaty (1992).


We have witnessed 70 years of lasting peace between European nations, however, are these foundations enough to keep the EU in sync with its own motto: “United in diversity” ?


The Sovereignty vs. Supra National Problem


Despite the sovereignty that each independent EU country holds, it is important to note that the EU is a supranational political and economic union, and that to truly empower it, all European nations should abide to a set of fundamental EU rules and values (Jackson, Krase., 2017). These common ideals are expressed for instance in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.


At the end of the day, isn’t a common set of values supposed to connect us? The recent EU “failures”, such as the 2017 Brexit, and the European migrant crisis are demonstrating all that which is problematic within the European Union, leaving space to question the efficiency of the enforcement of the EU common ideals (Bildt, 2017 ).


One recent event that appeared to create a clear controversy between ‘sovereignty’ vs. ‘EU supranationalism’ was witnessed when three Eastern European nations—Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania—disregarded the EU efforts in establishing a joint statement that would have denounced the US embassy transfer to Jerusalem.


In such efforts, the EU stated that the “status of Jerusalem should only be resolved as part of peace negotiations and that EU nations will not follow the US in moving their missions to the holy city” (Fulbright, 2018).


Yet, a total of four EU member states —Austria, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic— attended the Israeli event on the 14th of May 2018, despite the EU’s formal decline to attend.


The EU as a collective entity formally stands with the understanding that the Jerusalem question needs to first be resolved in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians before any of the EU’s member states can pursue bi-lateral actions (Staff, 2018 ).


The EU declared “EU and its member states will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem, embodied in, inter alia UNSCR 478 including on the location of their diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved” (EU quoted by Ahren, 2018).


In an official statement, regarding the actions taken on 14th May 2018, the Palestinian Authority stated, furthermore, “choosing a tragic day in Palestinian history shows great insensibility and disrespect for the core principles of the peace process” (Al Jazeera, 2018). The statement referred to Nakba, the day when Palestinians commemorate the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian cities and towns by Zionist paramilitaries in 1948.


The fact that four European nations went against joint EU statements and stood with Israel on this day is controversial and could be seen as embarrassing for the European Union as a whole; most importantly it questions the EU’s authority and credibility. The four countries’ stance was in opposition to the European Union policy, to the United Nations resolutions, and also to the Geneva Convention on Human Rights (Fulbright, 2018 ).


Conclusion:


The European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights are meant to resonate with and be supported by all member states. It is important that all 28 EU nations comply with and respect joint European Union policy.


If a single EU nation fails to do so, it not only questions the EU’s credibility, but also worsens the already ambiguous answer to the present-day questions: what is the European Union? What constitutes European identity? And what does it mean to be a European Union member state?


The answers to these controversial questions occur at a time in which Hungary’s Orbán has built a wall, Brexit has become a reality, and where EU members such as Greece and Spain amongst a few, are facing harsh economic and austerity measures. Is the EU truly “united in diversity” like its motto suggests?


Aliasha Zafar is a recent graduate from Boston University, with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor focused in Communications.


EVMO News encourages the personal opinions and research of its authors, but remains a separate entity from its contributors. EVMO News does not reflect nor adhere to institutional nor political positions.

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