7.2 The founding fathers and visions

7.2 The founding fathers and visions

The founding fathers of the EU had ideological and cultural aspirations that went beyond the channelling of competition. They wanted to overcome inequality and break down nation states. They had in mind the goal of a European Superstate, an "ever closer union". At the time of setting the course for today's EU, communism in Eastern Europe had failed, market-economy and democratic experiments were spreading throughout the world, and many people believed that the success of the Western model democracy and prosperity for all would be the successful model for the whole world. Europe's planners wanted to be a world-wide example. At the same time, they did not want to go the US way, which seemed too capitalistic to them, but wanted to give "their" new Europe a more friendly face.

The new Europe should be based on a positive image of humanity and on trust in people and their good will. Inequality was to be overcome by expanding infrastructure, by extending education, by spreading the economic achievements of the successful northern and western European regions to southern and eastern Europe. If this could be achieved, it was believed, a comparable level of prosperity would emerge. This would make the EU both politically and economically stable. This approach has all the characteristics of a socialist idea of humanity. Today we know that the desired catch-up effect has not taken place. Instead, the transfer payments, for all the fine words that accompany them, have become permanent.


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