Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 07:48:13 PM EST
Joseph Stiglitz argues that, despite all the flaws, the EU represents a tremendous success story that could serve as a model of democracy, human rights, sustainable prosperity with social justice, and peaceful conflict resolution for other societies to follow:
Project Syndicate: Europe's Success Points the Way to Better World
. . . the European project has been an enormous success, not only for Europe, but also for the world. . . .
. . . the driving motivation of the EU's founders was long-lasting peace. Economic integration, it was hoped, would lead to greater understanding, underpinned by the myriad interactions that inevitably flow from commerce. Increased interdependence would make conflict unthinkable.
The EU has realized that dream. Nowhere in the world do neighbors live together more peacefully, and people move more freely and with greater security, than in Europe, owing in part to a new European identity that is not bound to national citizenship.
This stands as an example that the world should emulate - one of shared rights and responsibilities, including the obligation to help the less fortunate. . . .
Is it valid to speak of "European values"? Stiglitz thinks so:
Europe's success is due in part to its promotion of a set of values that, while quintessentially European, are at the same time global.
The most fundamental of these values is democracy, understood to entail not merely periodic elections, but also active and meaningful participation in decision making, which requires an engaged civil society, strong freedom of information norms, and a vibrant and diversified media that are not controlled by the state or a few oligarchs.
The second value is social justice. An economic and political system is to be judged by the extent to which individuals are able to flourish and realize their potential.
As individuals, we are part of an ever-widening circle of communities, and we can realize our potential only if we live in harmony with each other.
This, in turn, requires a sense of responsibility and solidarity.
Is this too optimistic? Certainly Stiglitz glosses over many of the economic, political, and social problems that are analyzed here and elsewhere.
I think this a still a useful perspective, however, and one that is heard far too infrequently in the English-speaking media. It's all too easy to forget how far Europe has come from the horrors of the first half of the 20th century and the divisions of the Cold War.
h/t Mark Thoma's Economist's View