SOURCE: Vision Media

Vision Media

November 10, 2009 03:03 ET

Current Events and Politics: The Berlin Wall and European Reconciliation --

The European Union Is Enlarged and Enriched, but to Be Effective It Must Speak About Its Social Issues With a Clear and Coherent Voice in International Affairs

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - November 10, 2009) - In recent current events and politics, the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall reminds us that historic happenings in the European theatre can provide the world with great moments of international drama. Does the recent ratification of the Lisbon Treaty set the stage for another such scene of reconciliation and unity on the European continent? writer Tom Fitzpatrick reports on a recent event at Brown University's Watson Institute of International Studies titled, "The European Union in a Moment of Crisis" where two former European heads of state explored the future of European unity.

The two former European heads of state, now academics at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, addressed the future of European unity. The two-day event titled "The European Union in a Moment of Crisis," took place in Providence, Rhode Island, October 28 and 29, 2009.

Efforts at European unity over the last fifty years have produced a remarkable record of accomplishment. The European Union has enlarged its size, empowered its member economies and now enhanced its constitution. However, the European Union remains somewhat frustrated by its inability to play an effective role in international affairs.

Romano Prodi, former prime minister of Italy and past president of the European Commission and Alfred Gusenbauer, former Chancellor of Austria described the inherent challenges hindering further integration. They also proposed institutional changes needed if the European Union is to perform an influential role in future geopolitics.

While the EU has demonstrated a remarkable record of enlargement, institutions of integration have lagged behind. Professor Prodi laments the current lack of common economic, energy and foreign policy that relegates the EU to the role of spectator rather than actor in world affairs. The inability of the Eurozone to speak with one voice on these matters limits its influence on the world scene. He describes the definition of Europe as "a union of minorities" each with its diverse views and defensive of its vested national interests. The European Constitution currently requires that all member states agree before change can be implemented. Prodi declared that differences in national interests and the requirement of unanimity make continued integration difficult to achieve through democracy.

Nevertheless, he sees greater unity for Europe as a necessity. "The world is changing," he emphasized. "This is not the same world as a generation ago. We are entering an era of cross-continental issues where social issues can't be solved by one nation. Europe must adapt by uniting, or its individual countries will become irrelevant in shaping the future."

The European Union is enlarged and enriched, but to be effective it must speak about its social issues with a clear and coherent voice in international affairs. The ratification of the Lisbon Treaty represents the European Union's desire to audition for a greater role on the world stage.

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