Too much of the Europe of today is absorbed in management of structural problems rather than the elaboration of its purposes. From globalization to migration, the willingness to sacrifice is weakening. But a better future cannot be reached without some sacrifice of the present. A society reluctant to accept this verity stagnates and, over the decades, consumes its substance.
Inevitably a gap arises between the institutions and their responsibilities, which accounts for increasing populist pressures. The deepest challenge to the EU is not its management but its ultimate goals. In a world in which upheavals based on conflicting values span the continents, a common act of imagination by Europe and its Atlantic partners is badly needed.
Instead, European leadership is now faced with an unexpected challenge. Under the terms of its charter, the EU is obliged to negotiate with a principal member over the terms of withdrawal. Britain will want to maintain extensive ties with Europe while lifting or easing the constraints of its many legislative and bureaucratic requirements. The EU leadership has almost the opposite incentive. It will not wish to reward Britain’s Leave majority by granting Britain better terms than it enjoyed as a full member. Hence a punitive element is likely to be inherent in the EU bargaining position.
Many of us who have grown up with and admired the vision of European unity hope that the EU will transcend itself, by seeking its vocation not in penalizing the recalcitrant but by negotiating in a manner that restores the prospects of unity. The EU should not treat Britain as an escapee from prison but as a potential compatriot.
Punishing the U.K. will not solve the question of how to operate a common currency in the absence of a common fiscal policy among countries with disparate economic capacities, or of how to define a union whose ability to achieve common political strategies lags fundamentally behind its economic and administrative capacities.
By the same token, Britain needs to put forward the concept of autonomy for which its people voted in a manner that embraces ultimate cooperation. Britain and Europe together must consider how they might return, at least partially, to their historical role as shapers of international order.
In recent decades, Europe has retreated to the conduct of soft power. But besieged as it is on almost all frontiers by upheavals and migration, Europe, including Britain, can avoid turning into a victim of circumstance only by assuming a more active role. These vistas cannot yet be discussed at a geopolitical level, but the EU’s leaders should be able to form discrete and discreet panels for exploring them. In this manner, the Leave vote can serve as a catharsis. | HENRY KISSINGER
Leer el artículo completo, aquí (The Wall Street Journal)