The European Union’s Mission Statement

 

This article was first published on the Online EU Training blog

 

European%20Union%20mission%20statement.jpgIn 1957 when the Treaty of Rome was signed, its authors had a very ambitious goal: to prevent war happening again in Europe. It’s quite straighforward and easy to measure – you either have war or you don’t.

 

In 1962, JFK gave a famous speech that rallied the entire country to go to the moon before the end of the decade. It spelled out a big, ambitious objective that almost everyone could be enthousiastic about.

 

What do EU leaders in 2011 have as their goal when they think about the future of this enterprise? What does the President of the Commission or the President of the European Council have in mind when someone from the audience asks them a simple but provocative question: what is the European Union’s mission statement?

 

Right now, the EU’s goal is crisis management…which is already quite discouraging. But in 2007, when the crisis seemed yet far away, the EU tried to redefine itself as the global leader in the fight against climate change. The problem with this objective was, already at that time, that few European citizens could identify with greening the economy and lowering carbon emissions as a sexy topic to be cheering for.

 

Of course, the EU is trying to increase (or rather: keep) prosperity, decrease unemployment and advance its innovation capabilities on a global scale. But these are very vague ideas that are impossible to translate into a big audacious goal that we could call a “mission statement”.

 

I think it is time for EU leaders to sit down in a quiet room and brainstorm until they come to an agreement on what the European Union stands for today and summarise it not in a ten-page European Council Conclusion but in two sentences that is concrete and inspiring enough that even a bus driver in Estonia can understand…and maybe even support.

 

After all, how could European citizens be expected to support EU institutions and integration if they don’t even know which idea Brussels is struggling to achieve?

 

(Image credit: Norton Creative Solutions)

 

Posted in Online EU Training

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