I come to this area of international politics from a backwards part of western Europe, which has retained the integrity of its own local quarrel over hundreds of years. The whole history of European integration is a triumph of ideas over adversity. It’s also a lesson for ancient conflicts in other parts of the world—that it is possible to overcome them. But it’s quite difficult to answer the very basic question of Why is the European Union? That may seem like a strange formulation, but if you were to ask Why is the United States? It is easy to work out why this country exists. The Declaration of Independence sets it out very clearly, with a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. The Declaration of Independence sets out the reason why this country wanted statehood. In a crystal-clear manner, the greatest president of this country, four score and seven years later, put it even more succinctly. He said, “This is a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” You will search in vain for such a succinct and clear statement of why the European Union exists.
The treaty of Rome in 1958, which established the European economic community, did have quite a good phrase, saying that “it was designed to seek an ever-closer union between the people [singular] of Europe.” That’s process rather than principle; it’s geography rather than concrete action. And if you look at the current draft of the EU Constitution, you will notice its preamble instead of “we, the people” (as in the U.S. Constitution) begins with “His Majesty the King of the Belgians, His Majesty King of the Czech Republic, Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark,” and so forth, “drawing inspiration from the cultural religious and humanist intelligence . . . of Europe from which have developed the universal values” and so on, for another 325 pages. This is not very clear or succinct.