More integration or less?

25 March 1957: Signing of the Treaty of Rome (picture European Commission)

Opponents of the EU are starting to crow. And it is not hard to see why. Maybe the different member states of the European Union will not be able to work together to solve their current round of common problems. Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail put it like this:

“If the euro survives, we get more integration. If it doesn’t, we will get much less.

“In fact, the European project would to all intents and purposes be dead, and we would return to a state of affairs close to what was originally conceived — friendly European nations trading freely with one another, and coming together on issues as suited their national interest.”

But a failure as he describes would take us away from what was originally intended, not towards it. No-one can read the Schuman Declaration or the preamble to the Treaty of Rome and believe that all that Europe should represent is a free trade area.

And what are the issues in which there is an interest in coming together? Pre-eminent among them at the moment is the problem of sovereign debt. Some countries owe it, other countries are dependent on banks which are owed it: all of them have an interest in finding an orderly solution.

The interests of Europe, the countries of Europe and the people of Europe lie in resolving the current debt crisis and returning to a path of economic growth. If that requires more integration, then let us make sure that such integration is founded on a democratic basis.

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