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European Issue n°411

Politically Incorrect

Politically Incorrect
14/11/2016
Do you necessarily have to be rude, vulgar and abusive to be incorrect enough and with that have a chance of being elected?

The British referendum on the Brexit and now the result of the American presidential election seem to prove the truth in this. Emotion is the rule, tweet the language and lies are the argument. Since everything on the Net is relative, insults and also true reasoning, electoral effectiveness is guaranteed. Populations or elites, governors or the governed, the entire democratic world in fact seems to have lost their reason in preference of more or less articulately expressed emotional passion.
It has to be admitted that the time is ripe for this. Certainties crumble faster than the facts, scientific progress is laying waste to the best accepted achievements, migration is reaching unequalled heights, globalisation is doing the rest. Our Democracies, which are not really used to so many challenges, seem to be a little lost. Many of their leaders have become observers rather more than players, chasing realities which escape their grasp. And outrage is setting in.

However, there are other, better managed, and certainly more efficient ways to be politically incorrect, and that is to explore paths that to date, have been deemed unlikely, and to put forward some innovations to overcome changes that are so brutal and fast that they destabilise.

The American election will force response on the part of Europe.

If we are to avoid falling into the same trap, Europeans must draw up new formulae to win back hearts and minds. Simply repeating that we have to continue moving towards the unification of the continent is no longer enough. We have to address people's hearts, and to do this we have to turn to the future.

It has been clear for years that it would be dangerous to rely on others to guarantee Europe's security. Now our backs are against the wall, whilst America, which had already turned its sights elsewhere, seems to be about to withdraw into its shell.

Are we at last going to rise above those sterile debates over sovereignty to come to agreement over its modern definition: indeed, can there be any real sovereignty today for a State without it cooperating with its allies, its neighbours and even with others? Donald Trump will discover this very quickly, such is the dependency of the American economy on the outside world. But this does not dispense us from making an effort ourselves. It is urgent for Europe to look into its defence system and its security on its own, and those who see this in dependency should not decide for the others and should even be left to their own fate.

Everyone now acknowledges that the scale of migration is a major challenge and that this cannot be surmounted with the methods of the past. Sovereignty regained in this area entails the agreement of a few Member States, from the point of view of the conditions of reception and the status of those who want to join Europe, and the joint control of ever increasing flows of people. What are we waiting for?

Finally economic policies cannot be managed according to the direction of the wind, according to just any type of ideology. European integration must be the framework for a reassessment that the Member States are unable to define alone. The position of the State, exchange and trade, free movement, competition, taxation, social protections ... all of these are under concerted attack, often in simplistic ways but sometimes for legitimate reasons. They deserve clarification between Europeans who, together, have the power to protect a model that is the envy of the world. In this regard an ambitious conference, like that of Messina in 1955, as suggested by Hubert Védrine, former French Foreign Ministers seems to be fitting.

Europe can remain an example of peaceful cooperation, if the States come to agreement on some simple ideas that will define a vision for the future and that will enable it to overcome increasing hostility. This is no longer a question of just "another diplomatic exercise", but the true pooling of minds and the creation of a joint vision, even if there are only a few who join it. New territories can be explored, which depends as much on enthusiasm and dreams, as it does on future realities: is it not on and under the seas where they excel that Europeans will find the planetary extension to their economic and environmental ambitions? Is it not in space, where it has been truly successful, that Europe will win back much more true technological and scientific leadership than in simple communication techniques? Is it not in healthcare, where Europeans are leaders, that they have more than their word to say? And do they not have a message to send out to a deregulated world via their social, albeit costly, but deeply human model? It is by showing the way, by agreeing on the protection of the path they have run together, but especially by exploring new world scale goals that some European States can jump start Europe's engine. Is this perhaps politically incorrect? But dogged obstinacy in continuing our divisions, playing the game alone, pursuing old beliefs behind walls, and a certain type of timid intellectual indolence, will in a few years time and in the eyes of history, seem so much cruder!
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
Available versions
The author
Jean-Dominique Giuliani
Chairman of the Robert Schuman Foundation and President of ILERI (School of International Relations)
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