We did not give a good image at the European Council. For weeks, there was the impression that it was simply an accounting period. Who could save more? At the end and after the meeting, disappointment was obvious. The summit was a failure, not only in terms of the finances of the European Union and the future of the Constitution but also the European project. We had the opportunity to consolidate the political will through mobilization, something that is possible to be technically achieved. There was neither political strength nor long term vision to achieve a commitment. This was the tough lesson of the summit. The strength of the community lies on the possibility of the commitment. Without it, the project of freedom and wellbeing could only contribute to what is possible at the national level.
What happened on Friday in Brussels is the opposition of two old European conceptions, “Europe as a market” and “Europe as a political project”. The issue of “deepening” vs. “expansion” was also weighed. However, these explanations will not satisfy those who were under a deep sense of unease, which will not disappear with the usual European slogans.
Those who said “no” to the referendum did not say “no” to the work for a united Europe. They just wanted a different Europe, more just in terms of opinions. The economic situation and dissatisfaction regarding the politicians in their countries was decisive. Comprehensively, growth is insufficient in Europe, the pie does not grow as we expected. Encouraged by the shift from an industrial society into a service and knowledge-based society, we expect from Europe what it can offer: steady jobs and more social security. We have to be more realistic. The emerging national selfishness should not lead to the loss of European solidarity. We should achieve a balance between the interests of yesterday and those of today. The citizens must understand that a Europe a la carte for 450 people is impossible. The politicians who practice the art of commitment at a European scale should not be sanctioned in their countries but rather encouraged. This is the only way that Europe preserves its peaceful way of living, which is well defined in the Constitution.
We should ask ourselves two main questions: What do we want from this European Union? And the other one, very much related to it: How much are we willing to contribute to a consolidation process and a stable future for Europe? To be able to find the solutions for the future, we have to be brave enough to question ourselves certain things and think of its feasibility.

Der Standard (Austria)

Europa, bitte tief durchatmen”, by Ursula Plassnik, Der Standard, June 21, 2005.