Europe’s lack of purpose is killing its cohesion

Europe’s lack of purpose is killing its cohesion

When individuals lack purpose they take to drink or anarchy or some other distraction to stop them addressing the problem. When a company lacks purpose it resorts to restructuring and jargon and obfuscating its members and clients. When a country lacks purpose it prints money and finds politicians whose proposals are so absurd they replace common sense. But when a collective – perhaps a group of countries or an association of trades – lacks purpose it turns in on itself and begins to self-destruct. That is what Europe is doing right now.

Juncker, Tusk and Schultz, the so-called chieftains of Europe, showed their despair in Rome’s Capitoline Museums on 6th May. They were there to celebrate the bestowing of an award on Good Pope Francis for his work in trying to unite Europe. It didn’t turn out quite the way everyone wanted – or expected. Instead they showed how gloomy they were at what they perceived to be the relentless disintegration of the European Union. And they got a shelling from the Pope about migrants. I think it is easier to criticise others about migrants when one doesn’t have to make a decision about whether to harbour millions of them.

The last straw, I imagine, must have been the Pope’s version of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”. Even the original was never a call for cohesion, more a declaration of strife. It emerged very like that in Rome last week, too. So what is to become of Europe? The answer will be found only in the response to another question – what is to become of the world? The cohesion that Europe seeks for itself will only be possible when each of us balances our barriers with globalisation. Good intentions do not pave the road to paradise.

Much hangs on Brexit or, as I prefer to call it, Brain (Britain, remain!). If Britain leaves, Europe will shortly thereafter become divided into EU1 and EU2 – politically, financially and socially. That is what started both World Wars and we’d like to avoid the third. Far from reviving and refreshing the European Parliament, Brexit will shred it. The Berlaymont will become the battle field and the ‘droning’, initially boring speeches, will end as tools of war.

The apple cart may creek but it is still upright and should be kept that way. Upsetting it would be an act of unbelievable irresponsibility, imperceptibly different from a wall between the United States and Mexico. Politicians, generally recognised more for their unbridled opportunism than for their imaginative and far-sighted vision, need to pull themselves and democracy together and discuss survival not nit-picking. It took twenty years to recognise and accept the climate threat. We do not have twenty years to recognise globalisation.

And the optimistic note to end on? Armageddon is not here yet. We can become sensible.

But remember, when Canada catches fire, the rest of the world isn’t far behind.