With its ten new members, the European Union comprises 25 countries and 453 million citizens. In light of the fact that during the past millennium the EU’s members fought countless wars with each other, and that for forty five years a cold war split the continent into two hostile blocs, today’s Europe is a success of monumental historical significance.
Indeed, the EU represents many things simultaneously. First, it is a guarantee of peace: war is now technically impossible between the Union’s interlinked member countries.
Moreover, the EU is a majestic instrument for international reconciliation. The Germans and the French, who 60 years ago loved each other about as much as Serbs and Bosnians do today, are now a married couple. Catholics and Protestants in Ireland were killing each other for a century, but now that they are in the EU, they have recognized the idiocy of their conflict and the inevitability of reconciliation. Hungarians and Romanians, after nine centuries of hatred and wars, are embarking on the same process. Greece has just decided to support the opening of negotiations for Turkey’s entry into the EU in the next twelve years.
The Union has also been a bearer of prosperity, because it is an effective mechanism for lagging members to surmount long-standing barriers to development. Ireland and Greece, once the two poorest countries of Europe have surged economically, with Greece coming close to the European average and Ireland having already taken its place among the richest.