Europe’s Doubting Generation

PARIS – The contrast between the Schuman Declaration of May 9, 1950, which launched the European unification project through the Coal and Steel Community, and the fearful bid to save Greece and rescue the euro of May 9, 2010, could not be more stark.

Of course, in 1950 the Cold War was raging and recovery from World War II concentrated European minds. It was urgent to be imaginative – and the right people were in the right positions. Jean Monnet, who inspired the project, was pragmatic and daring. Robert Schuman, who presented the idea of unification to Europe’s leaders, was animated by a deep Christian faith that helped create miracles.

Different times, different people, different spirit. The seat of the College of Europe in Natolin, near Warsaw, is a near perfect barometer to test the morale of Europe. If the young European elites being trained there to occupy positions within the European Union’s institutions no longer believe in the EU’s future, something is really wrong. For if they don’t believe in Europe, who will?

On the Natolin campus, post-graduate students, representing more than thirty nationalities, live in what they themselves often describe as a “golden cage.” They interact (or should) to become what many may already have been prior to their arrival: “Europeans.” At least, this is the way things were and should be.