Author Archives: Julie Smith

Baroness Julie Smith writes…The European Peace Project

Peace: the single most important reason for the creation of what we now call the European Union, and the reason it remains so crucial. The European project arose from a clear vision: to make war in Europe ‘materially impossible’, to create enduring peace in a continent long ravaged by war. It is almost impossible to imagine now the devastation that plagued our continent for so long. And that is thanks to the visionary ideas of its founders. A spirit of reconciliation and mutual cooperation among the six founding members was crucial to ensuring Immanuel Kant’s idea of perpetual peace seemed to be a reality.

Of course, many would argue that is NATO that has kept the peace in Europe. It has certainly been important in securing the borders of its European members. During the Cold War the European Community as it was initially known could rely on an American security blanket to protect them from Soviet threats. Yet, within its own borders it was the mutual trust that developed as a result of pooling sovereignty in the areas of coal and steel and then across a wider set of economic policies that ensured member states began to see each other as partners and allies, not potential invaders.

For generations now we have lived secure in the knowledge that our fathers, brothers and sons will not be summoned to fight for our country. Military engagement by the state and by individuals signing up is voluntary, not forced. We have the EU to thank for that.

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The European Referendum and the Greek Tragedy – or Brexit, Grexit and Sexit

Once a magnet for states seeking peace, prosperity and security, the European Union faces a series of challenges associated with the Eurozone crisis, which has ebbed and flowed since 2010, and migration which is a source of concern to those of left (raising humanitarian issues) and right (raising opposition to influxes of migrants), polarising politics across Europe. Such problems have raised the spectre of Greek exit from the EU (Grexit) and form the background to the UK’s forthcoming referendum on remaining in the EU, potentially leading to Brexit.

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