This website is devoted to the story of Europe, and of European integration.
In times of crises, when we are faced with major challenges, it is important to remember what we have in common. And why we pursue a path of integration between the economies and peoples of Europe. It is in this sprit that I have undertaken to build this site.
Initially, you will find two documents on this website, as well as a host of links to other sites.
The first document is A Manifest for Europe, written in Lisbon on 9 November 2011.
In the midst of the Eurozone debt crisis. It is a call to remember what binds us is stronger than what divides us. The date is charged with memories. It was on 9 November 1938 that a pogrom was organised in Germany against Jews (called Kristallnacht [Night of Broken Glass] after the windows broken in attacks on Jewish buildings when synagogues were desecrated, shops looted, houses attacked and when many people were murdered). This dark day marked the beginning of the Holocaust. The Second World War began less than a year later. It was on 9 November 1989 that the Berlin Wall fell, dividing East and West Berlin. The fall of the Wall set in motion a chain of events in which communist regimes were toppled, ending communism in Eastern Europe and the division of Europe that had lasted from the end of the Second World War. The fall of the Wall led to Germany’s reunification on 3 October 1990.
The Manifest was intended as a public declaration by signatories but this has not materialised.
The second document is an essay on The challenges we face as European society.
It is based on a presentation that I gave in the Spring of 2012 which was re-worked into this essay. It is available in English and Dutch. It takes developments into account up to and including 9 May 2012, Europe Day. Europe Day remembers the offer made by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman, on 9 May 1950, precisely 5 years after the end of the Second World War, to bring French and German coal and steel under joint control. Joint sovereignty to abolish war and share a common destiny. The ideas behind the so-called Schuman Declaration came from Jean Monnet, the Frenchman who is considered one of the ‘father’s of European integration’. The French offer was taken up by (West-)Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries. These six formed the European Coal and Steel Community (1951) and, later, the European Economic Community (EEC – 1958) which later expanded to take in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland (1973), Greece (1981), Spain and Portugal (1986), Sweden, Finland and Austria (1995), Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Cyprus and Malta (2004) and Romania and Bulgaria (2007). The EEC has evolved into the European Union (EU) with at present 27 Member States. An accession treaty with Croatia has been agreed (2012) and accesion negotiations are underway with Turkey and Iceland.
We face immense challenges today, especially those who are faced with deep budget cuts or unemployment. For me, the combined crises that call for creative solutions are a reminder that unions are for good and bad times, and require efforts by all. My hope is that wisdom prevails, in acknowledgement of what divided us and devastated people and countries in the often sad history of Europe.
Professor of the law on Economic and Monetary Union, University of Amsterdam