Mr Delors, you were the President of the European Commissionat the time of German reunification. What was your role in this”acceleration of history”?
Jacques Delors: The events whichaccelerated in 1989 could have led, if not to a world war, at leastin bloody clashes at a time of instability. We must especially notethe achievements of President Gorbachev, of President Bush senior,Chancellor Kohl and Mr De Maiziere (Democratic Prime Minister ofEast Germany) that all this has not gone wrong. The Heads of Stateand Government of the Community rallied quickly to the idea thatEast Germans were part of Europe.
In all this, I was President of the European Commission so I hada right of initiative (regarding the then European EconomicCommunity) and was the “guardian of the treaties”. I had triedsince 1988 to attract attention to the situation and the day afterthe fall of the Berlin Wall to explain that the East Germans hadtheir place in Europe. I was criticized by some but it hascontributed to a movement in history.
Did you have concerns about the integration of East Germanyin the European Community?
JD : Yes. The final balance ispositive, but a responsible man like me has to have fears. Iexplained to the West Germans – the “Wessis” and “Ossies” – thatthere could be problems.
It was not sure it would work. On the other hand, there wasenthusiasm by Germans from the West who wanted to help the East.Many people in West Germany came to start businesses in EastGermany, whose economic condition was terrible. Overall, it is notover. But I think Germany has done a good job in twenty years.
Can the lessons of German reunification can helpEurope meet the challenges of today, including integration of newmember countries?
JD: The situation is rather different.The events of 1989 have opened a part in the unification of Germanyand also the enlargement of Europe. Nevertheless, I think whathappened in Germany was highly emotional for many Western Europeansand the Germans.
For other countries, I have always been a supporter of EUenlargement, but that’s another story. Maybe it did not happen withthe right method. Anyway, if I had been in power, I would havefacilitated it. Among Europeans, it takes a true understanding asbequeathed by the Fathers of Europe and not just common interests.We must keep this flame. I once said that “Europe needs a soul.”That could offend some believers but in the secular sense that Isaid. Europe still needs a soul.
You said that “thanks to the European Parliament, pluralistdemocracy and living is not a futile concept but a reality.” Howcan Europe reconnect with people?
JD: I recalled that European democracydoes exist. For example, thanks to the European Parliament thedirective on freedom of services has been rebalanced and it haspassed. Of the 27 governments, how many are there that talk aboutthe work of Parliament? How many are there that explain that thereis democracy in Europe? Not one of them. This anti-pedagogy doesnot come from European institutions but from nationalgovernments.
The European project has failed, one hears more and more.What do you think and what is your vision for the future ofEurope?
JD: I just indicated one of thereasons why it has failed. There are two others. Globalizationtends to take a national or even a certain regionalism. Moreover,in all our societies individualism has gained ground. That is badfor national and European democracy.
On Facebook, one of our surfers, Daniel said: “Until now,the European Union has been a top-down project, aim for true unity,It must become a bottom-up project “. What do you think?
JD: You’re not wrong. Initially theproject was carried by the enthusiasm of the post-war and then byan elitist project that was economic. Simply, as Europe is not afederation like the United States, to live through democracy it isthrough the national governments. But if they decide to talk aboutEurope today as they were in the Congress of Vienna two centuriesago, then there is nothing to do. You cannot make Europe againstthe governments, yet they are far from enthusiastic about Europe atpresent.
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