Whether one is aware of it or not, we are currently witnessing a kind of European awakening, the rise of a pan-European collective identity. Such an awakening is not a revolution, not a sudden shift, but a gradual, decades-long process in which average inhabitants of our continent identify more and more as Europeans. It does not mean that Europeans will lose their national identities, just as the rise of nationalism in previous centuries did not mean the eradication of regional identities. It simply means that an increasing number of people will realize that they are, besides members of a local and a national community, part of a vast, diverse, millennia-old civilization called Europe.
There is not one single type of Europeanism. People’s ideas on Europe differ as much as people’s views on other issues. Some left-leaning people are only pro-European because they are anti-nationalist and see the EU as a springboard to a globalized, borderless world. Some right-wingers are pro-European only in a cultural sense, but call for the very destruction of the European Union. Both extreme positions are harmful, both would inevitably lead to the destruction of our European community, either by fading away in the chaos of unrestricted globalization or by breaking up in ever smaller, rivaling fragments.
We, in the meantime, try to promote an enlightened middle way, a type of Europeanism that is indeed truly pro-European. We do promote open borders, but strictly inside the EU; Schengen cannot function without strong outside borders. Furthermore, we would never argue against Europeans’ national identities, but instead, want to complement these identities with a macro-national, civilizational layer. We are fiercely pro-EU, not because the EU is perfect, but because it is the largest, most peaceful, political embodiment of our civilization in history.
European unity is not only beneficial for our continent as a whole, it also boosts our individual countries, their wealth and their position and influence in the world. Slowly but surely, people are starting to realize that being pro-European is in fact an expression of patriotism. The European Union needs much improvement, that is certain, but it can never be abandoned, because, in the 21st century, it is the only chance at greatness we have, for our countries individually and for our civilization as a whole.