High expectations behind admonishment

14:07, February 11, 2010      

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Jacques Delors, a three-term, ex-president of the European Commission (EC), said recently that the European Union (EU) would face a tough "choice" in the next few years, while Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform, was more straightforward to say that Europe could possibly "fall apart". Their remarks have given an immensely contrast as compared to the elation brought by the entry into force of the "Lisbon Treaty".

Beyond any doubt, the EU is currently in predicament as a matter of fact. More than two thirds of its member nations now suffer a deficit, and some countries have sovereign credit ratings lowered. Of late, the European stock markets face repeated slumps, and the credit crisis may go on proliferating. These factors have hampered the EU's economic recovery to a great extent, and so pessimism could further spread within EU.

Moreover, the new system has caused some confusion since the "Lisbon Treaty" came into effect. Some American officials, however, said teasingly that EU currently have the chairman of the Standing Council of Europe, the EC president and the rotating presidency of the "three chairmen", so people even do not know which one they would turn to when anything crops up.

Objectively speaking, the European Union is far from approaching or reaching the critical moment between life and death comes in spite of quite a few problems it is facing.

First of all, the EU member nations cannot break away from the integration process on the whole. Thanks to its immense, steady development in the last half century, Europe has laid a solid, deep-rooted foundation of the economic integration to the benefit of its member states. In fact, the EU economic integration has been so deep-going and penetrating that its member nations are now very difficult to live apart.

At the onset of global financial crisis, EU member nations once experienced a short, brief period of relief operations on their own. With the introduction of a unified relief package, however, the economic situation in EU soon turned for the better, and noticeable outcome was attained through joint rescue efforts of its member nations. As Charles Grant put it, the global economic and financial crisis actually highlights the advantages of the EU organization.

Against the backdrop of an ever-deepening economic globalization, it would be really difficult to envisage that a single EU member state could depart from the integration process and go it alone. Therefore, what EU is currently confronted with is fundamentally an encounter rather than problems arising from the general orientation of integration.

Secondly, the main issue facing EU at present is how to further improve the integration process and better meet the challenge. There have always been controversies regarding this issue in EU; its history has been precisely a continuous process of resolving the internal crisis, and the resolution of the crisis is definitely to deepen the integration process. As the Liston Treaty has just become valid upon signature, the new system also requires a fitting-in process.

In recent years, the rhetoric of belittling the EU has been quite prevalent. The grim, stern economic situation has aggravated a sense of crisis within EU. The above-mentioned remarks of Jacques Delors and Charles Grant have, nevertheless, indicated all the more a desire to deepen and carry forward the integration, so as to cope with the present difficulties.

More recently, France and Germany have worked out a "roadmap" aimed at strengthening their cooperation over the incoming decade, which also gives expression to their wish to enhance the integration process. Anyway, France and Germany are dubbed as the engine of the EU integration process, and so their bilateral cooperation blueprint is worthy of attention.

By People's Daily Online and contributed by PD reporter Shen Yannan
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