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SINCE WE HAVE JUST CELEBRATED EASter one cannot find a better description than the one in the title as it sums up the challenges that the EU is facing. In the apocryphal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV) Peter fled Rome because of the persecution by Nero. Afterwards, he encountered Jesus asking him: “Quo vadis?” (Where are you going?). Jesus responded: “Romam vado iterum crucifigi.” (I am going to Rome to be crucified again). This encouraged Peter to turn around and return to Rome to continue his work and eventually be crucified upside down. What can Europe nowadays learn from this legend? In search for the answer one has to take into consideration the theological and spiritual meaning of this dialogue which enables us to draw applications from it.
FIRST, THE THEOLOGICAL MESSAGE IS that one should not flee from responsibility. Peter has to come back and continue what he was called upon to do. Second, the story puts Rome in the centre of Christianity; it becomes the centre of pilgrims where they learn to love and sacrifice for one another (solidarity). Third, both Peter and Paul are witnesses of Jesus’ death and resurrection until their end. They hold firm to their beliefs, faith and conviction. Thus, responsibility, Rome, solidarity and resoluteness are the spiritual communication of the story.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE EU and the crisis it is facing nowadays? The four mentioned messages can be boiled down in one – Rome, or in this case, ‘Going back to Rome’.
‘GOING BACK TO ROME’ MEANS GOING back to the roots of our civilization and values – Roman law. Namely, one of the reasons why we are facing the Greek problem is the lack of tax collection in that country – a lack of rule of law. In the first half of 2011 Greek tax collectors in Corinth collected only 18 000 €. Moreover, 17 Greek tax collectors did not do any auditing in the first 7 months in 2011. Furthermore, in 2002 it was Germany that first trespassed the rules set in the Stability and Growth Pact without any consequences. Going back to Rome means respect for the rule of law as one of the principles of Roman law and therefore one of the pillars of the European culture and identity.
SECOND, ‘GOING BACK TO ROME’ MEANS evoking politics of responsibility and solidarity. European nations have to be aware that they have to be responsible for the European project, and have to fulfil the principle of solidarity in every decision they take. Not because ‘Jesus’ or someone else said so, but because of the European nations themselves. Solidarity and responsibility should be the key features of European politics of every European nation. Both symbolise a new paradigm of conducting relations among nations in Europe. In order for Europe to play a relevant role in the world, European nations have to unite their strengths. There is no ‘Jesus’, who can save the EU or remake it, only European nations themselves can do that and for such an act responsibility and solidarity are needed.
FURTHERMORE, ‘GOING BACK TO ROME’ has also a far deeper, provocative and (r)evolutionary political message. The EU as a project has to go back to its roots and rediscover its original mission, which means going back to the Rome treaty. What that means is that the EU as a project and not as an idea has to be ‘crucified’ again. We have to ‘crucify’ today’s twisted idea of the EU that has become a bureaucratic dictatorship. Contemporary crisis has revealed the wickedness and flaws of the current EU – the illusion of democracy and equality of nations in it: instalment of puppet prime ministers, incompliance of or even prohibition of referendums, incapability to built an efficient European External Action Service with a clear vision of a joined foreign policy, increasing EU bureaucracy not only in numerical terms but more importantly in substance and (in)competences, notion of big states that the EU belongs to them and therefore they would have the ‘divine’ right to guide it according to their own interests, free-riding of other states. etc.
ONCE I HAVE COMMENTED ON THE speech of the vice-president of the EU commission Mr. Maroš Šefčovič that the EU has a Yugoslav disease. Involving the system theory, one can claim the EU suffers from the same challenges as Yugoslavia did (power grabbing by the big nations and bureaucracy). As in Yugoslavia, bigger nations hide behind decisions of democratic institutions and bureaucracy, however in reality bureaucracy and institutions are only their instruments, making institutions pseudo-democratic. ‘Going back to Rome’ means that we have to make an end to this. We have to end the quasi-democratic-federalism of the EU that under the false promise of democracy is enforcing the rule of bureaucracy and the rule of bigger nations.
TO ‘GO BACK TO ROME’ THE EU HAS to restrain, if not even annul, the European parliament, strengthen the role of the Council with a veto power for every member and push for a small efficient bureaucratic Commission. The EU has to become fully inter-governmental again. Only through ‘crucifying’ a twisted democracy of the EU, we may once have a truly united and democratic Europe that will not be based on bureaucracy but on the European idea and values of responsibility and solidarity.
SINCE ALL NATIONS ARE AWARE THAT WIthout joint actions they become irrelevant on the world stage, an inter-governmental structure of the EU would put them against the wall. At the point of a gun circumstances would be created where national interests will be redefined. They would no longer be based on the fear or temptation of dominance but on a sincere desire of building a strong EU. In the 60’ and 70’ inter-governmentalism did not work, since the situation in the world was different and enabled a non-functioning EU that still did not threaten the relevance of Germany and France. If nationalistic egoism repeats itself in today’s intergovernmental structured EU, then ‘Veto Poloniam perdidit’ would be valid also for the EU. The success of the EU has to become the crucial national interest in all member states. Thus, nations will not be tempted to misuse the EU for gaining their power, or to free-ride, as it is currently the case.
I WOULD LIKE TO CONCLUDE WITH A STATEment that today to be pro European one has to be EU-sceptic. EU nations should not run away from responsibility. It is our vocation to make a true United Europe a reality. We have to stay committed to this project. We have to go back to Rome and be ‘crucified’ again in order to resurrect stronger and united as ever!
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