Reflecting on where the EU came from
* Looking ahead at the start of the 21st century, Professor Garton Ash made reference to his vision of the “Renaissance of Asia”, with the United States and the European Union taking their places alongside Asia as the three global powerhouses.
Professor Garton Ash opened his address by reflecting on where the European Union came from and how it enabled countries to move to a better pace after the Second World War. Europe’s citizens are however, according to Professor Garton Ash very quickly forgetting their shared history and taking the achievements of the European Union for granted. Europe must therefore once again become a means and not just an end, in order to meet the many challenges that exist and which individual countries cannot hope to address in isolation. Making reference to the international financial crisis, Professor Garton Ash stressed that we are still on “big and story seas” and that there are still “some monsters in the deep” that the European community must address.
Looking ahead at the start of the 21st century, Professor Garton Ash made reference to his vision of the “Renaissance of Asia”, with the United States and the European Union taking their places alongside Asia as the three global powerhouses. The United States and the West in general however, will no longer be able to set the agenda for global politics at the expense of Asian powers. In order to take its place among these giants, the EU must identify a shared, common interest that will allow it to act in concert on the international stage.
This led Professor Garton Ash to the issue of the Lisbon Treaty, which he noted had caused the European Union to waste a lot of time over the last decade on the resolution of institutional issues at the expense of addressing the important tasks that face the EU. He believes that we now need to get on with the various priorities at hand and one of the key appointments under the Lisbon Treaty would be that of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in identifying a strategic coalition of member states to develop a European foreign policy.
Professor Garton Ash also made reference to the “British problem”, noting the failure of Tony Blair to address Britain’s “historic ambivalence about the European project” when in power. Looking ahead to the next general election in the United Kingdom, as a result of which he predicted that the Conservative Party would take power, he expressed his concern at the news that the Conservative Party are to join the new European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament, some of the members of which are regarded as being on the far right of the political spectrum.
Finally, Professor Garton Ash made reference to Germany’s position within the European Union. He identified Germany as having been the motor of European integration since the establishment of the European Union, working for the interests of Europe. He compared this to the Germany he witnesses today, which like other large European countries is now pursuing its own national interest.
About the Speaker:
Professor Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford and world-renowned author and commentator visited the IIEA to give the first in a series of Lisbon Lectures entitled “The Europe We Need.”
In addition to his position as Professor of European Studies in the University of Oxford, Professor Garton Ash is also Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In 1986-87 he was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.
His essays appear regularly in the New York Review of Books and he writes a weekly column in the Guardian, which is syndicated in Europe, Asia and the Americas. He was Foreign Editor of the Spectator, editorial writer on Central European affairs for the London Times, and a columnist on foreign affairs in The Independent. He is the author of eight books, which have charted the transformation of Europe over the last quarter-century. His latest book is Free World. In 2005, he featured in a list of 100 top global public intellectuals chosen by the journals Prospect and Foreign Policy, and was also listed in Time magazine’s world’s 100 most influential people. In 2006, he was awarded the George Orwell Prize for political writing.
Professor Garton Ash outlined his vision of the stronger role that Europe needs to play in the world. As 2009 is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Professor Garton Ash explored the evolving dynamic between key European actors such as France, the United Kingdom and Germany, in the context of the new U.S. administration and the emergence of China as a major power.
To view Professor Garton Ash’s speech at the IIEA, click on the youtube link on this page.
The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: iiea.