Today, the European Union is being understood as the embodiment of the European idea. The dream of a European Community was conceived before and especially during the second World War and was realized first in an Community of Steel and Coal. Steel and Coal were, of course, not only the foundation of any industrial growth at the time but also necessary for any war. Sharing these ressources should hopefully lead to peace in Europe and the emergence of a global counterbalance to the US and the USSR. From there on, the project turned liberal and developed into a supranational institution that influences many areas of our daily lives. But the Institution is under a lot of scrutiny today. The single market and the four freedoms at its core appear to alienate people in many European societies. And as it is dominated by the economic powerhouses of France and Germany many Eastern Europeans understand the European project as a hegemony-project of central Europe.
This situation appears to me as a sad twist of history. It was after all especially states in the East like Poland that first championed a European Union – that was before Poland was occupied by Nazi-Germany. That and the subsequent occupation by the USSR and the creation of the Eastern Bloc burried any hopes for an Eastern Euroean Union.
The point is – the European Union of today needs to understand that it is not yet the institutional realisation of the European dream. It should understand that it can not yet claim the whole history of the European idea for itself and that if it wants to do that, it needs to accept and respect that it cannot substitute the Eastern European dream by the Western European dream.
Europe is a heterogeneous construct. It is heterogeneous not only in its cultural, historical and lingustical aspects but also in the very ideas that form the foundation of the construct itself. Trying to create one unifying narrative for the history of the principles and ideas of Europe should be understood the same way as would any attempt to create one single culture or language for the European Union would be understood.
Now, going forward, the European states are trying to fall back on principles everybody could agree on. Then the European Union would become a Union to encourage growth and to stop wars in Europe. That in itself are important goals and righteous causes but it leaves behind the people, the culture and the European dreams. As in ecumenical discourse falling back on general terms that everybody can agree on is robbing religions of their core characteristics and will leave everybody dissatisfied. Europe, as Religions, must find a way of discourse that incorporates differences rather than ignoring them.