One of the founding fathers of Europe, Jean Monnet, wrote in his memoirs published in 1976: “Europe will be made in crises and it will be the sum of the solutions brought to these crises”.
Indeed, Europe has faced several crises in recent years: the financial crisis, the Euro crisis, the migration crisis, the climate crisis, the Brexit, the Covid pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine. Has Europe grown from these crises?
While the notion of crisis and ‘Europe in crisis’ seem to be increasingly used, we must ask: isn’t the notion of solidarity, which represents the strength of the common European project, often forgotten?
In societies increasingly marked by individualism, European solidarity is present in its many forms: economic, social, environmental, geographical, intergenerational, and through the solidarity between peoples and social groups, at individual, national or international level. Beyond that, it is also the psychological and emotional solidarity, created, among other things, by freedom of movement and exchange, which has strengthened the union of people in hearts and minds. Nevertheless, this ‘European spirit’ does not happen spontaneously. Social tensions, withdrawal reflexes, cracks and controversies in our societies, global threats and challenges are a major challenge for Europe.
During the presentation of the results of the 2011 edition, many actions were proposed by the participants, aiming at improving solidarity within the European Union but also between the European Union and partner countries. These proposals covered three major areas: culture, education and institutions. What about today, are these proposals still relevant in the current context? This year, 11 years later, the participants will review these proposals with the situation of European solidarity today.
Is European solidarity strong enough to meet all the challenges facing our societies? Has it always lived up to our expectations? These different crises have shown that solidarity can operate very differently in different cases. What is the right political level for solidarity to be expressed? How can we reconcile solidarity with personal and collective initiatives? How can this solidarity be maintained when people are experiencing successive crises?
The reflection carried out in Cluny is committed to going beyond the stage of diagnosis. From the observations made in 2011 to those made today, participants will be invited to consider the objectives that the Union should set itself to strengthen solidarity between peoples, but also between Member States or between the Union and the rest of the world. We look forward to a stimulating exchange of views !