August 17, 2015
European soft-power is the source of it’s influence in the world. Combined with it’s member states, the EU provides a considerable share of the global humanitarian aid: about 50% in 2009. Traditionally, it’s human rights record, though not spotless, has been one of the best in the world. European soft-power stems from it’s quality products, it’s strong, living cultural heritage and it’s ability to put human dignity and the common good ahead of considerations of pragmatism.
If that last example has anyone rolling their eyes, I apologise, but I shouldn’t be the one apologising. Europe, the member-states and the institutions, has dropped the ball, so to speak, by allowing situations in areas that Europe has been traditionally strong to get out of hand.
I didn’t want to talk about migrants; anyone could guess my position on the treatment of migrants, so there is little value of talking about it. However, Europe is hurting it’s public image by letting these situations get out of hand. If one’s influence comes from one’s record of being a caring continent, then having stories about the poor living conditions in shanty towns, while locals, metaphorically, spit on them is much more harmful than it would be if European power was primarily found in drones and fighter jets.
In their defence, the EU institutions seems to know this. The commissioner for migration said Friday that increased and more coordinated efforts were needed on the matter. Prominent Parliamentarians have been saying much the same thing, in much harsher terms.
The burden on Europe to provide an Europeans quality of living to refugees is perhaps unfair. Europe has one of the best records in for acting with humanity in its actions, and so that we should judge an entire continent harshly while de facto slavery exists in the US, Canada is under scrutiny for it’s attempts at cultural genocide and so much of the rest of the world sees human rights as something that they have to deal with sometimes. Is it fair to hold Europe to the high moral standard that we do?
Not only is it fair, it is necessary. Many countries in Europe have more than demonstrated that they can marry economic progress with social progress. They have demonstrated that they are able of upholding that high moral standard. Therefore, I think it is our duty to put that expectation for the exceptional on Europe. To let an example for us all to slide down into the mud out of apathy wouldn’t be the end of the world. What it would be would be an example of that old expression: you get the government you deserve. If we fail to help people that we can help because it was hard, then maybe we deserve governments that can’t see further than its own self-interest.
We’re talking about free-market democracy. If we keep buying the excuses and the lowest-common policy choices from people whose only policy is pettiness then they will keep supplying it. There will always been xenophobes and nationalists who will give political will to anyone looking to block these sorts of motions. The key is to buy into better politics.
Apologies to those who expected this to be out on Friday. You might notice that Blogactiv.eu hasn’t updated since the first of August. This is due to the habit of residents of Belgium to take August off for vacation. It is for this reason that I did not rush for a Friday release as I normally do.