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This 2019 will be the year of Europe. The spring elections will inevitably mark either the relaunch of the European political project or its sinking, probably definitive.

The mistakes of the past are there for all to see and the consequences are being paid for dearly. These errors are linked to a lack of solidarity between the Member States of the Union and a lack of foresight on the part of the ruling classes, the result of the will to collect, from time to time, an immediate electoral gain, to be spent at national level only. The humiliations reserved for the peoples, the Greek people among others, show how history has taught little or nothing: the lesson of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, born under the ashes of frustration and humiliation, seems to have been in vain.

 The responsibility of Christians.

That Europe is seriously in crisis is an obvious fact. The crisis is particularly worrying because it is part of a global framework of strong tensions that threaten peace. Today it is urgent for Christians to reflect on the words of Pope Francis: "Good politics is at the service of peace", and it is only so if it is lived as "service to the human community".

Peace must, therefore, commit us as Christians, and this becomes all the more true that it appears evident that this action of fraternity cannot simply be delegated at the moment when the political practices take an orientation contrary to human rights, justice, social solidarity. Today it is necessary to reflect and to support a good culture that opposes the prevalence of the principles of individual and national selfishness. We have a duty to react to these practices.

1989 was a success because of the civic movements in Central Europe. These actors who are the real heroes of the change. Which lessons?

1  Don’t accept to be unified from above, which means accept the differenciation due to the cultures. Don’t destroy the piano of Chopin.

2 In his article “Living in truth”, Vaclav Havel tells us that in the communist time, when there was no confidence in the politic system, it was necessary to invest in the civil society, to have an “antipolitics” movement in the civil society, able to give a moral impulse. Not to criticize the global system but ask oneself, which moral values to introduce in the system.

 

The times of great changes require wider perspectives, accordingly throughout Europe visions of the past, present and the future have been questioned by different bodies and institutions. Among them also Pax Romana, precisely the Siiaec (The International Secretariat of the Catholic Engineers, Agronomists and Industrialists) and the KIK, (Club of Catholic Intelligentsia) - the organizers of the International meeting in Warsaw (April 2018). Intellectuals from several European countries presented their views on various contemporary challenges. The issue of European identity and its connection with the future of our continent seems to have raised most interesting discussions and fruitful confrontations.

Auschwitz is a name that from A to Z contains the alphabet of horror: right in the heart of Europe, it has become the place of the annihilation of the "different", to be identified not only with Jews but also with dissidents, opponents, the disabled, the mentally ill, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Roma, the Sinti, the Slavs. Today, 74 years after the liberation of that concentration camp, we are celebrating the 19th Day of the Memory of the Holocaust (the "catastrophe", in Hebrew) established by law 211 of 20 July 2000.

     The next general elections of the European Parliament will assume a crucial historical value for Europe. The actual political framework inside and outside the European Union strongly challenges the European institutions and their role as well as the very idea of Europe as a political community which is able to rule a continent according to common values and to reach common goals. The crisis of the traditional political parties in all the European countries, the rising of a new fascination for national identity and national sovereignty, they are the major features of a larger crisis of the political roots of Europe, including the concept of democracy.

  In May 2019 European people will elect the new European parliament and according to many analysts this election is going to be crucial for the future of the European Union. The rising of political parties and movements which consider the EU as the responsible for the economic crisis and for its consequences in terms of social security strongly challenge the very basis of the political project of a Europe unite in the diversity and ruled by democratic and effective institution. This scenario questions the existence of a European political perspective, since an increasing number of member states are ruled by governments which asks for a return to the central role of national state. Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy claim a return to the protection of the “national interest” and relevant political movements in Germany (particularly in Bavaria and East Germany), France and Belgium support this same position.

       The recent vote of the European Parliament against the Hungarian government asks for the application of the article 7 of the treaty of the European Union, which allows the European institutions to subject a member state to sanction if there is an evident violation of one of the basic principles of the Union: democracy. It is well known that such request will not produce effects, since the final decision has to be taken by the European Council, where several governments, such as those of Poland, Austria and Italy, side with Mr. Orban’s government.

       This entire story is the most recent manifestation of the historical crisis that modern representative democracy suffers in Europe and America. Such a crisis concerns the understanding of what democracy is. Modern democratic practices rest upon the basic idea of creating explicit and inviolable limits to every exercise of power and authority, so that even the power of the people does not lack a bound which is fixed in the list of rights and duties of the citizens and of the different communities. On the other hand, the idea of democracy which is proper of several political movements in Europe and of Trump’s administration in the United States is based on the idea that the democratic process consists in the simple popular mandate which enables the winner of a presidential election or a majority in a Parliament to consider themselves as the only legitimate representatives of the “general will” of the nation.