Romano Prodi: The world wants a united Europe

From a speech by the President of the European Commission to the LSE
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Enlargement is about to move the European Union on to a new level. In May, 10 new member states will join. In eight of them, the decision has been backed by referendums with impressive majorities in favour.

It is perhaps a paradox that although the EU may have become less popular in some of the current member states there has never been such a wave of positive political support and desire to join. But if you really think about it, is that a paradox? In my experience as President of the Commission, I have realised that Europe is often considered far more of a reality and an ambitious and necessary political project when viewed from the outside.

When I went to the EU China or India summits last autumn, I could sense the great interest and high expectations the European Union has stimulated in emerging powers such as China or India. When you look at Europe in a global context, it is far less easy to doubt our need for it. The world is becoming increasingly interdependent. Economies have become transnational and the major political issues are global. This breaking down of borders has already affected societies and cultures in ways that go beyond economics and politics.

The new situation requires a response that cannot be met within national frameworks. Nation States are here to stay, but need to cooperate more and manage their relations in a wider European framework better if they are to defend and pursue interests that are increasingly shared.

If European nation states want to be stronger, they must act together.