The bellyachers of Europe

Message to Europa-Union Deutschland
Congress, 22-23 November 2002, Hamelin

Dear Friends,

We have arrived at a very important turning point in Europe: namely, the enlargement of our European Union and the decisions about to be made on the urgent question of what form this new, much bigger Europe will take.

Europe’s strength is rooted firstly in respecting and protecting our continent’s cultural diversity and, secondly, in working together to solve the problems we face in common.

Already on 1 May next year treaties will be signed with the new member states. Following this enlargement the EU’s cultural diversity will be enriched. This is to our advantage, although the wide variety of different languages and the resulting high translation costs present us with a seemingly insoluble problem. However, we must never forget that one of the most important basic principles of democracy is that all citizens should have an equal chance to take part in debates in their own mother tongue.

The second question, whether this new, much larger EU will be able to function effectively and democratically using the present working methods and institutions, is already being discussed in the Convention on the Future of Europe and your debates today in Hamelin will contribute valuable, federalist ideas to these discussions.

We in the Federal Union are convinced of the need for a European federation: namely, a democratic and effective federation of citizens and states which will both respect Europe’s various cultures and identities and also have the capacity to represent and protect the interests of our continent.

We Britons are often considered to be the bellyachers of Europe. That is not such a bad reputation to have. Democracy needs people who are occasionally ready to ask uncomfortable questions. But it was a Briton, a member of Federal Union, the economist Sir William Beveridge, who in 1940 proposed the idea that the way to avoid future wars was for Great Britain, Germany, France and other European countries to be bound together in a federation.

Dear friends in Europa Union Deutschland, the present day members of Federal Union send you their warmest greetings and best wishes for a successful Congress.

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