Culture, Elites and European Integration. Volume IV – International Relations and European Union Interdisciplinary Studies Cover Image

Culture, Elites and European Integration. Volume IV – International Relations and European Union Interdisciplinary Studies
Culture, Elites and European Integration. Volume IV – International Relations and European Union Interdisciplinary Studies

Author(s): Iulian Boldea, Cornel Sigmirean, Georgică Costea, Simion Costea
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences, Politics, EU-Accession / EU-DEvelopment, Geopolitics, Politics of History/Memory
Published by: Publishing Inc. European Readings & Prodifmultimedia/Editura Napoca Star
Keywords: International Relations; European Union Interdisciplinary Studies;
Summary/Abstract: PrefaceProf. Dr. Nicolae PăunThe theoretical foundation of the necessity for a new paradigm in order to widen the spiritual horizon from the national to a continental one requires new contributions to stress the fact that European integration means more than a simple transfer of economic, social and political abilities from the national communities level to the global one. This process also implies a fundamental change of consciousness, bringing to life resources, traditions and common spiritual factors hidden for centuries behind the development and the triumph of nationalism.The research on this topic is focused mainly on the theoretical elaboration and the specific historical argumentation of the fundamental concepts which define European spirituality: truth, knowledge, reason, the right to and the respect for individuality.The starting point of such a project is the literature based on the European Idea, which one if its most famous exegetes, Denis de Rougemont, said was twenty-eight centuries old. The synthesis meant to create the theoretical basis for the necessity of a new paradigm will be continued by defining, circumscribing and delimiting the conceptual factors which are the foundation for the common identity of the Continent. They represent the theoretical basis of the approaches on the pragmatic accomplishment and implementation of the integration process.The ample intellectual debate on the essence and distinctive features of the idea of Europe, which has engaged the entire European public opinion, has as a starting point the ever more widely spread sentiment after World War One that Western civilisation, in its traditional form, was in full process of decay, that it was the end of the previous century’s optimistic hopes for a steady and linear process. On the eve of the conflagration that would most dramatically confirm this apprehension, a book that made an outstanding career, written by Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the Occident, launched the idea of an inexorable fate that drove Western civilisation, dominated by the power of money, to dictatorship, in which strength would prevail over justice, truth and culture. The organic evolution of society, which passes through successive stages of growth, maturity, decadence and death, made this sentence final, irrespective of the individual will of the people. The response of the great European spirits to this gloomy perspective was to reiterate the attempts to find the means to rescue and develop this civilisation, essential for the very existence and future of mankind.Thomas Mann envisaged a new militant European humanism, based on freedom, tolerance and reason, opposed to any kind of fanaticism, which would ensure Europe’s survival beyond the elements that stood for a mere geographical or historical denomination. Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain emphasised the Christian and undivided character of the new humanism, which would lead to collaboration among peoples, not by means of force and terror, but through spiritual freedom, justice and divine love. Instead of fatalism and resignation, he preached the restoration of faith and the refusal to give in to the inexorable laws of decadence. In the same spirit, which denied the decadence of the norms of human civilisation, Jose Ortega y Gasset, in his well-known work The Revolt of the Masses, asserted that the critical situation was an outcome of conflicting national tendencies, which offered no perspective and were historically barren. The apparent decadence concealed in fact a fertile crisis, which would give birth to the real Europe, made up of a continental nation, aware of its civilising mission, united by the common will to achieve generally accepted goals and in which each nation preserved its specific individuality by serving the general ideals. For Julien Benda, the lack of political unity was the obstacle to the fulfilment of Europe’s universalist mission, as nationalism was a source of division and isolation, with its emphasis on the distinctive features that separate the continent’s peoples. The lack of a history of the continent, which did not simply put together national or provincial histories and described the European evolution as a unitary political reality, was a token of the Europeans’ unawareness of their spiritual unity, which explained the opposition met by those who claimed that the carrier of the national idea was no more. Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal focused on the spiritual progress towards the idea of Europe and its creative restoration, as any outstanding creation made within the national framework was a contribution of universal vocation, which counterbalanced the appearance of chaos and anarchy.The next step was the attempt to redefine the sources and distinctive features of European spirituality, which might be laid at the foundation of the future political, juridical, institutional, economic and cultural construction. For Paul Valéry, the essential sources of European civilisation were the Greek, Roman and Christian traditions. The former brought about a discipline of the spirit and the search for perfection, a method of thinking that related everything to the human being, the main system of reference. The belief in the existence of law, order and beauty was the Greeks’ main legacy to European culture. The Romans bequeathed the everlasting model of an organised and stable power, the almighty rule of laws and institutions, whereas Christianity touched upon the depths of consciousness, endowing European peoples with common faith and morals. All the Romanised races and territories, Christianised and dominated by the discipline of the Greek spirit – Valéry concluded – were European. Developing this analysis in the field of what he called Socratic and Christian traditions, Salvador de Madariaga defined the former as a spirit open to facts, loyal to the truth, subject to logic, free and opposed to preconceived doctrines, the history of the European spirit being in fact the history of the endeavour to attain such an ideal by delivering the human spirit from lie. The Christian tradition brought about the respect for individual life and salvation, the tendency to eliminate inhumanity, restricting human knowledge according to the Socratic spirit, so that its results should be to the advantage of mankind and not means of transforming it into an instrument, deprived of a personal will. Even though, in the course of historical evolution, the two trends had sometimes dramatically confronted each other, and he was hinting at the Inquisition, censorship, the absolutisation of scientific progress etc., all in all, the true European spirit was a synthesis, in which the Socratic spirit did not interfere in the realm of faith and revelation, while the Christian tradition agreed with the methods, freedom and clarity of the Socratic spirit.These fundamental sources were associated with the Old Testament, the Hebrew source, older than the Greek-Roman tradition, which, according to Karl Jaspers, for instance – enriched the European spirit with the everlasting and infinite desire for knowledge, the habit of ceaselessly questioning everything that was known, a basic condition for the progress towards new territories. Moreover, according to Swiss historian Gonzague de Reynold, the Germanic source brought the free spirit to the folk community of free people, opposed to hierarchical and bureaucratic centralisation, which defended the individual against the power of the state.As far as the distinctive feature of the European spirit is concerned, Edmund Husserl believed that the Europe of the spirit was an epoch in the development of mankind, during which the latter freely structured its historical existence and life on rational bases. The primordial phenomenon of spiritual Europe was her specific philosophy, marked by the ceaseless search for universal truths. A European revival – Husserl concluded – was possible only through philosophical spirit. For Benedetto Croce, European history was one and the same with the concepts of freedom and humanism, whilst Karl Jaspers believed as well that Europe meant freedom, history and science. Freedom entailed the constant confrontation of two antagonistic elements and the permanent awareness of each one’s limitations; history was the outcome of the desire for freedom and the sequence of the deeds contained in the struggle to achieve it; science stemmed from the critical spirit and the respect for truth. Salvador de Madariaga also saw the essence of life in freedom, and, according to him, the central aspects of the European spirit were diversity, quality and distinction, which explained the variety and richness of the European human types opposed to quantity and uniformity, the balance between will and spirit, individualism, the refusal of conformism, the emphasis on form, the non-utilitarian and active character. According to Carlo Schmidt, Europeans are characterised by the refusal to accept fatality, the tyranny of circumstances and past, as well as by the search for truths beyond individual subjectivity and the creative drive to change the world.The idea of unity in diversity is the main feature of this spirit. Developing this idea, Ortega y Gasset emphasised that in Europe it never happened that a principle, class, or group had fully triumphed, the freedom and pluralism being constant cores of her spirituality. The nationalistic glide of the continent did not express, but rather paralysed, the creative potential of this diversity. National barriers set to creative power hindered development, and national autarchy is pointless under the circumstances in which 4/5 of the spirituality of each European nation is a common asset. Thus, European unity is not a mere ideal, but a spiritual reality. For Paul Valéry, Europe was a system of climatic, geographical, cultural and temperamental diversities, a space of systems made up of a certain human diversity, with a favourable geographical location and an extremely dynamic history. Christopher Dawson or Henri Brugmans emphasised that the history of this idea preceded the emergence of nations and was not restricted to the summing up of national histories. European civilisation had a common historical background and the true bases of culture were European, not national, so that even nationalism is international. For Ernst Robert Curtius, the greatest representatives of comparative literature, namely national literatures, could not be interpreted as isolated from one another, but only in the inexhaustible richness of their mutual influences.Accordingly to such theoretical premises, this volume is meant to develop each of these factors of the European tradition and spirituality. It investigates the roots related to ideas, their evolution during the course of history, the interdependence and the confrontations of ideas among their exegetes and, especially, the way in which the contemporary process of European integration can find its resources and arguments within the sphere of this spiritual heritage. The results of such an approach will represent, for the new line of European Studies within the academic education of Romania, a valuable support for the further pragmatic, economic, social, juridical and political approaches to the contemporary process of European integration, based on fundamental, clear concepts. Research in this field will give an impulse to creative thinking for those who will have to find proper solutions for the multitude of specific problems raised by the desire of having a unified continent.Given this profoundly cultural perspective, writing a volume on the European Union, its evolution and institutions is no easy task. From the very beginning there appears an essential qualitative request, determined by the abundance of publications that have appeared in Romania over the last few years, which more or less turn to the same method of simply presenting European institutions in order to make them known. This qualitative request is quite often submitted to the caprices of present history; every day, on the corridors of Brussels, there occur events which give rise to new policies or at least can be interpreted as such; every day there are discussions and negotiations which alter the pervious status quo or the interpretations of the latter; every day there appear somewhere across Europe, either within the Union or outside of it, studies, commentaries or opinions, each potentially bearing academic interpretation. On the one hand, this is typically proof of the fact that the European Union is not a stiff institutional and legislative body, as it is still a “site” under construction, which will require many more years before it finds its coherent pace. On the other hand, how can one assimilate, sequentially, everything that occurs in the area of European Studies within a mere volume, without the risk of tackling the same subject dozens of times, of leaving behind significant themes and of getting lost in the institutional labyrinth and other scholars’ reflections, without copying them?Beyond the qualitative request lies discernment in the choice of themes: which ones should take precedence, where and in what society? Which ones provide more pertinent explanations? Which ones are confusing or cannot be properly expressed and how can they be understood by all or at least most readers? Discernment is important in this approach: it is not at all advisable to discuss issues germane to the European Union with the same degree of superficiality as in the Romanian public space, one that remains so distant from the genuine contents and magnitude of such topics.Finally, there is utility. Cui prodest this disecatio Europae? The answer is plain and simple: to those who aim to further their understanding of European Studies and, most importantly, their manner of approaching it. To simply restate an overview of the EU’s institutions would be both redundant and useless. They are already the topics of more publications than necessary, where often, plain reproaches are ignorantly directed towards them with little or no support. What is however necessary in the Romanian literature pertaining to European Studies refers to that one step forward, so as to interpret, understand, dissect and reshape such institutions, in order to provide a complex picture of their – more or less subtle – functioning mechanisms, thus revealing the true status of the Union and answering a series of questions that trouble the European public: why is the European Union so heavy? How is it that it is suffering from a lack of transparency and the unwillingness of nations to fully commit to it? How long is this going to last? What is there to be done? These are some of the queries that have entered the collective mentality in Romania following its accession, which this volume will attempt to answer.Contemporary historiography gives more prominence to European Integration studies with every year that goes by, all the more because the latter are positioned among the priorities of current debates on contemporary history, political science and international relations, while bringing forth the need to return to borderline, interdisciplinary studies. On the other hand, the interest in an organisation such as the European Union, originating from the area of the economy and accumulating, over time, a solid argumentation meant to direct it to the social, cultural and political areas, is also captivating due to its connection to the concept of European governance in a globalised world, in which it becomes evident a decrease in the national states’ and classic democracies’ ability to provide better governance and manage its resources, both material and human ones: the European Union could be this model.The Cosmopolitical Europe has ceased to be a Europe of nations, instead becoming a post-modern Europe. This Cosmopolitical Europe was built after World War Two as an antithesis of nationalist Europe, the former finding itself in an incipient stage of its evolution. Moreover, Europe is inconceivable from the perspective of nationalism, because the latter methodologically denies the existence of unity in diversity; Europe would also be inconceivable from the perspective of national homogeneity; finally, the EU is not an international governmental organisation. The arguments upholding this refer to the extremely complex structure it relies on, the degree of political responsibility it has and the supranational features it includes.The authors of this volume – a considerable number – benefit from very solid references and have in fact attempted to answer the question “What is the European Union?”: is it a coalition of states, currently perceived at an international scale as a major power in the making? a new type of political actor? a model of cooperation encompassing an enormous potential of political, economic, military and demographic resources at the disposal of member states? Any research on the European problematic at the level of competence records the debate within historiography and positions itself as part of this debate. In order to analyse and understand the phenomenon submitted to this study, this volume explores theories pertaining to European integration which are not commonly analysed by experts in this area. Their actuality and investigation are indisputably very necessary, given that the EU, as a new type of international law subject, needs to rely on an innovative type of political system. Not only the final shape, but also the survival of the European project itself, depend on the manner of developing this endeavour.The volume proposed by a very dynamic group of researchers is a testimony of the fact that the European Union is a union of interests, based on arguments dealing with significant findings in historiography. Hence, the analysis acknowledges, interprets and proposes solutions to the current debate, becoming an active scientific part in a dispute aiming to redesign and give consistency to the finality of the EU. The analysis has the necessary force and relevance to contribute to a Romanian perspective of the process of European integration, by answering numerous interrogations and challenges the EU is facing and by facilitating their understanding.The finality and new beginning of a European Union facing a profound crisis can be included in the debate referring to the future of the Union, which is an increasingly preoccupying topic for the European scientific and academic community, as well as the technocratic elite from within its member states. The European Union is an organisation of indubitable value, capable of providing solutions for good governance in a world facing a continuous process of globalisation; it is a regional organism in the making which does not have a definitive model or an elaborate shape ahead of it. From this point of view, transformation and change are more than just keys for elucidation – they even generate an acute need for interpretations and ideas on the EU’s evolution. The contemporary debate we subscribe to takes into account all the major theories and models, while trying to generate clarifications awaited by the citizens of a United Europe, so that a Union of 27 or 28 members would rely on a solid architecture, an economic system, as well as also a political one. The very survival of the European project depends on this ultimate shape it will embrace.Starting from these findings, we shall briefly mention the major themes comprised in the volume. The first focuses on The EU and Economic, Social and Development Challenges in an International Context. Hence, the article A Common Fiscal Policy for the European Union? The Challenge of the years to come, by Dragoş Păun, tackles the thorny issue of compliance of fiscal policies among the EU member states, in light of the present economic downturn. Mihaela Göndör’s contribution, named Discretionary and Non-discretionary in EMU fiscal policies – Considerations regarding SGP performs a thorough analysis of the coordination of national fiscal policies amid the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact. In the article named WIPO and Romania from an international relations perspective, by Mihaela-Daciana Boloş, the analysis focuses chiefly on the relations between two international actors, namely WIPO and Romania, with regard to the international system of IP protection. As far as Valeriu Ivan’s article is concerned, under the title Protecting Romanian Economic Interests in the Competitive Context of the European Union, the analysis centres on the importance of competition law within the EU, deemed as a key interest for European citizens at present. Lucreţia Dogaru, in her study, The Role of European Institutions in Environment Protection and Sustainable Development, sheds light on the numerous international and Community measures aiming at environmental protection, while acknowledging the main challenges the EU is currently facing in this regard. In the paper boldly named The Sustainability of Sustainable Development, Mihaela Kardos discusses the achievements of society in this complex endeavour, by also pointing out new dimensions of sustainability, in the form of the green economy and international governance. As for Nina Didenko, her research paper, The Urgent Problems of Formation of the Social Responsibility of Ukrainian business and practices of corporate social responsibility in the European Union, uses positive practices of social responsibility in order to assess the implementation of this method in the Ukrainian business environment.The second section of this volume, entitled EU Foreign Affairs and European Neighbourhood Policy includes articles such as Catinca Oncescu’s The European Neighbourhood Policy: Case study – The EU – Lebanon Partnership, an indicative example of the interaction mechanisms provided by this recent EU achievement. Moreover, Michel Labori’s analysis called Le Maroc, un exemple de relations privilégiées avec l’Union européenne, shows the extent to which this Mediterranean country has managed to maintain solid relations with the EU by means of the latter’s institutional mechanisms. Last but not least, Liviu Ştefan Râncioagă presents The Implications of the Lisbon Treaty on the Help’s Prospects that Romania can offer to the Republic of Moldova, by focusing on Romania’s commitment to support its close neighbour in its attempt to integrate into the Union.The following chapter, related to the Romanian Presence in the Political History of International Relations and of the European Construction, features inspiring contributions by authors such as Lucian Săcălean, who proposes a useful approach to the issue of national minorities, with regard to Romanian-Hungarian relations; Maria Costea extends the field of research by analyzing Romania’s relations with Bulgaria in military reports, while Liviu Ştefan Râncioagă focuses on Romania’s relations with the Republic of Moldova. Adrian Corpădean performs a thorough analysis of the pro-European message promoted by the Romanian diaspora that sought refuge in France following World War Two. Tiberiu Tănase ends this chapter with an insightful terminological clarification dealing with the differences in meaning between security and safety.The final section of this book, entitled Global Dimensions Today, includes analyses by Nicoleta Vasilcovschi, who follows the most recent orientations of China’s economic diplomacy, Mihai-Alexandru Oprişcan, who traces the occurrence of the genocide phenomenon in the 21st century, as well as Flore Pop, whose research is based on international cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, with a focus on Nuclear Law. In conclusion, Simion Costea performs an interesting critic of the Euro-skeptical view exhibited by Vladimir Bukovsky.To conclude, this volume most certainly finds a worthy place amongst the priorities of research in this field, due to the combination of academic, political, “eurocratic” and social dimensions it comprises, with a view to clarifying and establishing theories and solutions pertaining to the future of the European Union. The contribution of its authors is meant to be part of a broader spectrum of research already visible within the European debate on the current state of the European Union. It is quite difficult to assess a certain degree of risk entailed by such an academic endeavour, given the fact that the process of European integration and hence the analysis of European construction do not enable us to provide immediate answers to the problems Europe is facing at present. Nevertheless, this volume is the product of a commitment to record, quantify and interpret the elements that give consistency and relevance to the contemporary process of European integration.

  • Print-ISBN-13: 978-2-7497-0112-7
  • Page Count: 300
  • Publication Year: 2011
  • Language: English