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1/14/16

European Unity: Tony Blair: 'European Unity has Never Been More Important'

European unity has never been more important, never more needed and never more obviously in the interests of the countries that make up the European Union.

Parts of the right want to break up Europe on the basis that it is a bureaucratic conspiracy against the nation-state. Parts of the left regard it as a capitalist conspiracy against the interests of the workers. Both take every challenge Europe faces to find fresh reasons to heap abuse on the European ideal. The fact is that no challenge Europe faces is more easily faced by nations that stand alone—not security, not refugees and not economic malaise.

The reasons that gave birth to the European Union 60 years ago have a new and added relevance today. The global order is shifting east, with new powers emerging or emerged. China and India both have populations more than double that of the EU. The population of the United States is already over 300 million and growing.

If individual European nations like Britain want to play a role in global decision-making—and if Europe wants to keep its influence—they can do it only through the heft of Europe.

The way Europe worked together recently under the leadership of President Fran├žois Hollande of France in agreeing on a plan of action on climate change is an excellent example of how a common approach in Europe can work.

Despite the travails of the euro, the commercial market in Europe is still the largest in the world. It is true that Europe and its market urgently need reforms, and some of them will be painful. But it is also true that even if any country were to opt out of Europe, those reforms would remain necessary. If European countries stay together, the reforms can be done within a trading area that offers huge opportunities.

In the field of security, the way forward is for European countries to work more closely together, not pull apart. The challenge of radical Islamism should provoke greater cooperation across European nations’ borders. The terrorists are planning their outrages without regard to international borders.

I would argue that in the medium term, there will be a growing requirement for Europe to build defense capability. That force would not supplant NATO but would have the independent ability to take military action at times when Europe’s security interests are threatened when the U.S. may decide not to be involved.

Note EU-Digest: Tony Blair is right on track on this one. Going back to individual statehood would be a total disaster, apart from the Economic chaos it would cause, Europe would be devoured bit by bit by global powers like China, Russia , and the US .

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