Kai Kaarelson: It’s up to us to shape post-Brexit Europe (4)
The European Union stands at one of the most important crossroads of its history, a history that so far has been one of integration. No member state has ever left it - and now the United Kingdom has decided to do just that. But resigning and writing off the union is the worst thing we can do now, says Kai Kaarelson of the Office of the President’s foreign policy department.
For a while now the European Union has been influenced by different disintegrating powers. The migration crisis has proven a serious challenge for the unity of the member states. Russia’s attack on Ukraine two years ago forced them to look for common solutions to keep the aggressor at bay. The economic crisis that hit in 2008 still hasn’t ended for all of the members of the EU.
Still, the worst thing to do right now would be to hang our heads and to say that the European Union is falling apart, that we’ll have wars again and that there’s nothing we can do. We need to understand that every word we say, every thought expressed now shapes the future we have waiting for us.
There are two kinds of people - those who believe that everything is predestined, that we’re hostages of the conditions we find ourselves in, and that we can shape our lives and our future only within tight boundaries. Others believe even in the worst of situations that they have the power to influence things for the better.
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right in either case (original quote in English; ed.).
The British referendum could further break up the EU, populists in other EU member states could gain from it, but the opposite could happen as well. The remaining 27 members of the union can find the strength to stand up to the populists’ empty promise that everybody’s better off going it alone. That the pound dropped by double digits in just the first hours after the Brexit vote is just the first sign of how wrong they are.
The British referendum and growing populism across Europe show that the people of Europe and the European Union have done too well for too long. History has always developed along these lines. Peace and prosperity are increasingly taken for granted; instability follows, war, in the worst of cases.
The question is whether or not this is inevitable, or whether there’s the hope that mankind will understand one day that the solution lies in cooperation, not separation. In the realization that in today’s closely interconnected world, it is no longer the fittest that survive, but those who are ready to work with others.
Times have changed. We don’t live in the same safe Europe anymore we lived in five years ago. But fear of the future makes for bad counsel. Panicking and stirring up fears is the best way to guarantee that things go wrong. Let’s try and find opportunities in our challenges, and see that it’s up to us to make our future.