Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rather than “humiliating” the EU as one British newspaper suggested, has brought member states together and forced them to act decisively and cooperate in new ways.
“Europe will be forged in crises and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises,” said Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union.
That prediction has proven true time and again since the first six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) decided, in the aftermath of World War II, to pool together to make new conflicts among them impossible.
Other countries later joined the bloc, usually after economic or political shocks. The United Kingdom applied for membership (and was initially rejected twice) after the Suez crisis and the dismantling of the empire. Greece and Spain saw the EU accession, in the 1980s, as a way to complete the path to democracy after painful years of dictatorship. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War paved the way for the access of Central and Eastern European states, which were previously part of the Soviet bloc.
Another bloody war, which ended with the break up of former Yugoslavia, led Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia to become candidate countries. Now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has driven Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to apply too.
As the EU expanded, its unity has been tested…
Continue reading my comment piece published at The Local following the start of the war in Ukraine, 14 March 2022.