GUY VERHOFSTADT on A UNITED EUROPE


Mr. Verhofstadt, young people today are not
engaged in the political process. But what happens in Europe affects every young person
no matter where they’re from. In your own words, how best can you explain the situation
in Europe? What is happening now, and the huge unemployment
rate that they are facing in certain countries like Spain and Italy and Greece is due to
the fact that Europe is not prepared and is not really capable to defend his interest
in the globalized world. When there’s a financial crisis in one country, well, it
is spreading itself all over the world. When there are problems with debt in Greece automatically
it affects countries like Portugal, Spain, and Italy. And what we have to explain to
young people is that the best way to defend their work, their job, their future is to
redefine sovereignty on the European level and to try to defend their interests on a
larger European scale. I think that if we don’t establish the [inaudible] United States
of Europe, we shall not only lose the Euro as a single currency, but we shall also disintegrate.
A single market can disappear and that means more unemployment, lower growth figures, lower
industrial production, and in… in almost every country of the European Union. Ask the
young people in Greece or young people in Spain or Italy if they feel that they are
protected by their nation state, by their national sovereignty. I don’t think so. I
don’t think that the response is positive. And, in fact, in the modern world, in a globalized
world, you cannot be protected by national border supply, national economy by a nation
state. Europe until now didn’t do much about defending the social model of Europe, defending
the labor market in… in Europe, defending ecological and social conditions. What we
have to tell to these young people is try to change that. Try to be enforcing European
politics, try to change European political, but be aware that only on the European level
you can defend your interests and your future, and that is not possible on the level of the
nation state because they are too small in a globalized world. Every country, every economy,
every European union [inaudible] has to follow the same path, the same direction. And so
convergence policy creates enough room of maneuver for every country to adapt itself
in the modern world, but within certain limits, within a framework that is absolutely necessary
to maintain the single currency. United Europe for a globalized world means that you can
defend the interests of the European citizens in negotiations, in the power play [inaudible]
with other empires like… empires like China, India, Brazil, the US, and so on. The same
for… for political issues. How can we defend the interests of Europe on the political scene,
to have to try to solve the Middle East problem or to interfere in the… the problem of Iran,
for example. How you can do… you do that? The circumstances is to do it in a coordinated
way, together, with the European army, with the European diplomacy. That gives us the
strength and the force to… to be a strong player on the world level. I think if we don’t
make the jump towards a federal union, the alternative is to lose the single currency,
to lose the single market, to lose the European Union, and to fall back in the best circumstances
to… to a loose confederation of nation states. We are on a crossroads, or we are becoming
a United States of Europe or are we becoming a United Nations of Europe? We all know what
a United Nations means. It means that we are incapable, not to take decisions like it is
often the case. We have no leadership for the moment in Europe. You have leaders of
nation states who are coming together. Since the beginning of the Greek crisis it’s already
25 times taking hold of measures but not really dealing with the problem, not dealing in a
structural way with the problem, the problems we are facing. On the European level, the
leadership is weak too. So in my opinion that weak leadership is… is a big problem. It
is a problem that is as so important as the crisis itself. But we need to… young generation
has a vision for Europe and was engaging itself in European politics.

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