Year XXVII, 1985, Number 1, Page 3
Europe before the Challenge of the Future*
There is a basic contradiction in today’s world. While we have the scientific revolution, and consequent enormous potential for technological progress, prospects for great economic development and sensational advances along the road to human emancipation, on the other hand, the world appears to be less capable than ever of freeing itself from the influences of the past. We need only to consider that:
– unemployment is spreading and is generating a strong reaction against the spread of new technologies;
– the trend towards a shorter working week found in all advanced countries, in itself a great social conquest, made possible by technological development and urgent by unemployment, is not even being taken into serious consideration;
– Third World countries are crushed by the weight of their growing debt, which hinders the implementation of any serious development project, while the industrialized countries are incapable of ensuring the necessary transfer of resources;
– international monetary instability is making financial markets precarious, which in turn hampers the financing of long-term investments;
– there is an increasing tendency everywhere to dismantle the welfare state.
There is a simple explanation for this negative trend. On the one hand, the bipolar equilibrium that has governed the world since the war is becoming increasingly less capable of offering positive solutions to the problems that humanity must face and solve. And the very survival of a stable and peaceful international framework, capable of ensuring the long-term development of the world economy, is increasingly being brought in question. On the other hand, a political formula to supplant the national state and make effective democratic decisions possible at the international level where development problems lie and which, today, are at the mercy of intergovernmental collaboration – i.e. of the goodwill of governments or of hegemony – has not yet become historically consolidated.
Clearly, the path of progress crosses Europe in both cases. Many people have noted a shift in the world’s major trade routes from the Atlantic to the Pacific, due to the recovery in the USA and the strong growth of the Japanese economy. Europe, however, does not seem capable of initiating the industrial transformations made necessary by the technological revolution. But the problem is not merely sustaining Europe’s reinforcement to prevent its exclusion in this historic period of transformation. It is rather a matter of finding a project capable of initiating a new phase of world economic development. It is in the realization of this project that Europe is able to play a decisive role. To be persuaded about this we need merely recall that:
– by means of the European currency, bipolarism in a terrain as decisive as the monetary field, in which the insufficiency of the existing order for world trade needs is made manifest day by day, can be superseded in fact and deed;
– a Keynesian policy can be applied internationally by a Marshall Plan for the Third World, thereby rendering the enormous reserve of potential demand existing in those countries effective;
– arms reduction may be undertaken by means of a peaceful foreign policy and a European defence system with no offensive capacity;
– a gradual reduction in working hours can be begun when there is a unified and growing market, in order to introduce a new quality of life into the world.
But what is at stake is not just this, but rather the affirmation, through the European union, of the historic possibility of an efficient and democratic government of an association of States which, precisely because it is constituted by the great nations of the past, can be held up as an exemplary model for the entire world.
The decisive point is that, today, European union is possible. The European Parliament, in a strong position because of the citizens’ vote, has successfully taken on the role of «federator» by taking a constituent initiative. And, with the draft treaty approved on February 14th 1984, European Union has become a choice that the governments can no longer evade.
The intention is for this Conference to promote the emergence of the front of States now favourable, so that at least the first core of the European Union may be constituted immediately.
*This issue reproduces the unabridged text of the introductory documents and the speeches held at the meeting of February 8-9, 1985 in Rome on «Europe before the Challenge of the Future », organised by the European Movement.