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The Maastricht treaty celebrates the same anniversary as it was born: under the Russian shadow

The Maastricht Treaty was signed on February 7 30 years ago in a context of “fear that instability will lead to violent conflicts” in Europe, recalled Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, who exemplified that, if not part of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)Poland today “would be just as” threatened as Ukraine.

“For a long time we believed that confrontation in Europe was a thing of the past, and now we see that Mr. (Vladimir) Putin is trying to revive the Cold War and only unity can dissuade him from it. It is a different situation to that of the Cold War, but the effects are the same: to divide Europe. We have to do everything possible to avoid that,” Timmermans said at an event organized by Maastricht University to mark the 30th anniversary of the treaty.

Does this mean that the treaty must now be modified? “No, we should have a debate on, for example, qualified majority voting in foreign policy, removing the rule of political unanimity in this regard, allowing members to say ‘I don’t agree with that, but go ahead, because it’s in the interest of the collective European position’. A country like Russia is no longer capable of dominating, but of disrupting”, he explained.

Timmermans reflected this Monday in the Dutch city of Maastricht, in a digital event together with some thirty young Europeans born after 1992 -the year in which the treaty of the same name was signed- on the three decades of European cooperation within the framework of the Union Union (EU) and the organization’s contributions to its member countries.

“I was raised to fight on the other side of the Berlin Wall, as a Cold War soldier and then a diplomat, and our idea was to fight for our freedom against the Warsaw Pact. When I was your age, I could recognize from miles who was from Eastern Europe. It was a deeply divided Europe and the legacy for your generation is not to live in a divided Europe,” she said.

Therefore, he stated, “we must always see the Maastricht treaty in that context: the fear that instability will lead to violent conflict in those years.”

The EU integration process also brought with it the security that allowed NATO to accept new members. “It really contributed to stability in the EU. And as a thought: imagine that today Poland was not a member of the EU or NATO, then what is happening now in Ukraine, would be happening in Poland”, assured the Dutch politician.

But he regretted that the member states have their own positions on relations with the United States, and underlined his “firm belief that there is no security in Europe without a strong transatlantic link”, but that relationship is not possible “without a more unified European approach”. strong” on security.

“The Americans, regardless of who their president is, will get increasingly fed up with the Europeans not contributing to a collective defense in a balanced way. And because we’re too divided on this, we’re wasting too much money, and we’re not making collective decisions,” he explained.

On the other hand, Timmermans believes that one of the reasons why “enlarging” the Union is so difficult today is because the “EU sometimes has difficulties managing diversity within the EU itself” and attacks on the State of law in countries such as Hungary or Poland “have increased the feeling that we cannot handle more members”.

Asked about the debate on meat and the climate emergency, he pointed out that if citizens understood the carbon footprint of their decisions about what they eat, how they travel or what they buy, “they would be willing to reconsider” their behavior, but warned that “They should not be told what to do, but they should be informed” so that they can decide.

“Today we already see a lot of people, especially young people, rethinking the amount of meat they eat. Is it because they are told not to? No, because they are informed about its consequences”, he points out.

He believes that it is about “cultural changes, which are going very fast” and compared it to tobacco: when Ireland banned smoking in bars and restaurants, and other countries followed suit, “everyone in the industry said that was the end of bars and restaurants”, but that is far from reality: “The air is cleaner and there are many more people, also with children”.

The same will happen with meat, he concluded.

Source: Gestion

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