Europe: Destination Unknown

Where is Europe going? How far, and how fast? Are all the member states moving in the same direction and do they want to reach the same destination? All these questions have opened up in recent months and the debate over the future of the European Union looks set to continue as it prepares to welcome new members.

The World Today Published 1 October 2000 Updated 28 October 2020 5 minute READ

Julie Smith

Fifty years ago, french foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed the first step towards a European ‘federation’. His 1950 blueprint for a Coal and Steel Community did indeed mark the beginning of European integration. Yet, few seem to recall the early use of the term ‘federation’, now so reviled by Eurosceptics across the continent.

Indeed, after half a century of even closer cooperation, Andrew Shonfield’s 1972 BBC Reith Lecture assessment of Europe as a ‘journey to an unknown destination’ seems apposite. And for that half century the absence of a clearly defined goal was an asset: Europe, in a manner of speaking, could be all things to men, federalists and intergovernmentalists alike. There was little real discussion about the ultimate objective.

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