It might make sense to open the discussion about the future of Europe with a discussion about its past, its history. Frequently I get the feeling, in this Parliament and elsewhere, that such discussions too often take exclusively an ideological perspective — that of pilgrims intent on reaching the new Jerusalem. Moreover they get bound to technocratic approaches that are grounded in neoliberalism. Even the social dimension when it is included, gets relegated to a policy chapter, calibrated in positivist terms. Perhaps what we need is a self-critical, historical review of what the European project has been, frameworked in the realities of European history since the French Revolution. Perhaps what we need is an acknowledgement and examination of the failures as well as the achievements of the European project over the last sixty years — seen not in contingent terms but as strategic responses undertaken in historical time. These need to be reinforced if their outcome was good for the European peoples; and reversed where they have been mistaken. Decisions about the future of Europe must be built on an honest, critical assessment of our recent past. Unfortunately, this terrain has been abandoned to populists and demagogues.

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