La mission séculaire de l'Europe

L'économie et la politique se sont révélées des alliées précaires dans le processus d'unification de l'Europe. Dès la fusion des industries du charbon et sidérurgiques européennes dans un effort visant à prévenir de futurs conflits sur le Continent, le « projet européen » a souvent compté sur les intérêts économiques pour se propulser vers l'avant. Toutefois, à l'heure actuelle, les nouveaux membres rejoignent l'Europe essentiellement pour des raisons politiques et géostratégiques. Ce changement de motivation nécessite des changements dans la façon dont l'Europe s'envisage, des changements qui vont bien au-delà des idées qui circulent tandis que la Convention rédige actuellement une constitution européenne.

Bien évidemment, la prospérité économique apportée par l'unification européenne attire indubitablement de nouveaux membres, mais l'attrait de l'UE va bien au-delà des questions monétaires. Car l'Union est également une vaste zone régie par des lois, certaines concernant la production et les échanges commerciaux, et d'autres établissant et protégeant les droits individuels.

C'est pour ces raisons que les pays limitrophes de l'UE se sont sentis attirés comme un aimant vers cette zone pacifique et prospère. Le premier agrandissement, en 1973, a introduit la Grande-Bretagne, l'Irlande et le Danemark dans l'Union, essentiellement pour des raisons économiques. Mais toutes les vagues successives d'agrandissement ont été essentiellement, sinon exclusivement, motivées par des raisons politiques.

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