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Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Text: Lord Patten Faith in Europe lecture
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 Lord Patten of Barnes gave the following lecture last Wednesday on 'Europe in the Wider World' as part of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor's Faith in Europe series. I begin with a confession, not the first I have made in this great brick basilica, which used to be my parish church, but certainly the first in public. Here it is. I have never confused an election campaign with a Socratic dialogue. We are not witnesses, as the weeks of electioneering drag past, to a reflective hunt for the truth. I take my share of the blame. I was once ­ "autres temps, autres moeurs" ­ guilty of mangling Shakespeare's language in the pursuit of votes. It is sad to reflect that a politician, Adlai Stevenson, who exemplified as well as any the attempt to raise the level of political debate, coining the phrase that "the average man is a great deal better than the average", lost two Presidential elections. So it is difficult to recall a campaign that appealed to the reflective side of our natures, that urged us to think of the long term and of broader horizons. Old hack that I am, even I was surprised by the things that went undiscussed in our recent electoral capers. There seemed at times to be an informal conspiracy to keep some subjects off the air, and certainly off the "Today" programme, however hard its producers might have rightly tried to disoblige the political rivals. Admittedly, thanks to lobbying by development organisations, there was a Sunday when all the party leaders made reverential speeches about world poverty. They were against it. But while we heard about school dinners and matrons, and nothing wrong with that, I recall no discussion of the relationship between national energy choices and environmental hazard or the impact of demography on social policy. It was not until the week after polling day that we heard some thoughtful remarks by Adair Turner on this subject. Nor of course was anything said during the campaign about Europe; as an electoral issue it was never "outed". It has been left to Cardinal Cormac's series of lectures to recognise how many serious issues there are to debate on Europe. I have not agreed with all that I have read in the previous excellent lectures. But their content, and the size of the audiences for them, does suggest an interest that has gone unmet elsewhere. What makes the collective political vow of omerta on this subject so strange is that the tone of argument about Europe when debate is actually joined, for example in Mr Murdoch's newspapers, suggests that the issues go right to the heart of our national identity and national interest. The glorious independence of our island home is about to be subverted; our customs and constitution ­ unwritten and sometimes unfathomable though it may be ­ are to be extinguished by Johnny Foreigner. No more Queen, no more Wall's sausages. On the other side of the argument, the European Union - this extraordinary, imperfect, ramshackle but still working enterprise in sovereignty sharing - is sometimes spoken about in terms that suggest that it has been handed down from the gods not stuck together by man, one compromise spatchcocked onto another. To question it or Britain's role in it is impious, a liberal apostasy frowned on in polite society. I suppose the principal excuse given for Hamlet's absence from the play ­ or maybe it was the grave-diggers who failed to show up ­ is that we have been promised a referendum, or to be more accurate two referendums on aspects of this debate, the constitutional treaty and our willingness or otherwise to join the eurozone. I hate referendums, the favourite electoral device of tabloid editors. I hate them precisely because of what they do to parliamentary democracy at Westminster. If the issues that they are to determine are so important, they should decide who forms the government of this country. The fact that we try to sideline them, channelling them into a different electoral process, helps to make the discussion of them as ignorantly rabid as it is. Well, we are alas where we are, though whether we ever have a referendum on the constitutional treaty and a serious debate on the issues it raises, is entirely dependent on others ­ specifically, President Chirac and the French electorate. So much for British democracy. "Non" means "no" to the treaty and to any British debate. I suppose we had all better keep our powder dry in case the result is a "oui", and I would not wish by pre-empting future arguments to be accused of pulpit abuse. But it really is a rum old world. I owe it to you to indicate the encasement of opinions or prejudices about the EU out of which my remarks this evening will seek to clamber. First, I believe that the European idea, which I will try in part to illuminate, is perhaps inevitably better than the institutions that serve it and better, too, than many of the arguments adduced in its favour. Second, this is partly because the EU, like the United Nations, is a clanking man-made institution, struggling away to cross the muddy terrain between reality and aspiration. To say that it is imperfect is not to say it is wrong and that we should have nothing to do with it. The system of Westminster democracy and Cabinet government can feel like an awful let down when you are part of it. I cannot speak for the Vatican. Third, there is an insularity about our own discussion of our relationship to Europe that is only matched by the continental introversion of Europe, made all the more obvious as India and China re-emerge as great world powers. If we want to help shape the future, do we think that we can do it on our own ­ "this is Britain calling", or as America's loyal side-kick ­ an adjutant occasionally allowed to speak up politely in the mess, or as part of a continent that makes far too little of its collective influence and is too fixated at present on its own internal affairs? What should be the main items on our agenda as Europeans ­ twenty five nation states ­ in seeking to ensure a more powerful, stable and prosperous world? Like Caesar's Gaul, I divide the task into three. First, the excesses of European nationalism helped to make the world in the first half of the last century less peaceful, less stable and less prosperous. Out of the economic and political rivalry of those nation states largely created in the previous century, came war, ruin, division and tyranny. That was the rubble "in death's grey land" out of which, with American help and encouragement, we began to build today's Europe, with at its heart France and Germany lashed together in a historic reconciliation. A difference between modern Europe and Asia is that there has been no similar reconciliation in the East between China and Japan. From the outset the European Union, whose different names ­ from market to community to union ­ reflect the steady achievement of its sequential objectives, was a profoundly political project in which economic means were used to achieve political purposes. One of them was the creation of a neighbourhood of prosperous, stable democracies trading freely with one another. So characteristically when Spain, Portugal and Greece escaped the bonds of authoritarianism, they were offered straightaway membership of the Union to consolidate their democracy and to invigorate their economies. The same approach governed our attitude to the European countries from which we were separated by the barbed wire of the Cold War and the Soviet Empire. As the USSR and the Warsaw Pact crumbled, Europe's policy was to offer membership of our Union to the countries that Russia had colonised. Paradoxically for some people, countries like Poland and Hungary celebrated the recovery of their national independence by proposing the earliest possible sharing of much of their newly regained sovereignty with others. Enlargement of the EU was the most successful foreign policy that Europe has implemented. It was the policy for our own back-yard, our own neighbourhood, and it worked. Only in the Balkans, was the dismemberment of the last European Empire accompanied by bloodshed; elsewhere prospering, plural democracies flourish from Lisbon to ­ almost ­ Lviv. But that raises a tough question for us, one that I want to consider. Where should our boundaries now lie? Why, for example, is Lviv on the wrong side of the line? Each enlargement produces a new neighbourhood. Do we extend the EU until we get to the Pacific's shores? When and where do we stop? Obviously, increasing the size of the EU puts political and institutional strains on its policies and programmes. A Union of six member states is very different to one of twenty five, and that in turn is different to one of thirty five. As the Union has grown, it has changed already, and so it should. There is no reason why the institutions at Europe's heart should stay exactly the same, until the crack of doom, and that indeed is in part what the constitutional treaty attempts to deal with. We do need to be clearer about what has to be done at the European level and what at the national. The budget, the regional funds, the Common Agricultural Policy are also all affected by enlargement, and there would be few tears outside the Elysée Palace if one consequence of enlargement was a final radical overhaul of the way we try to assist poor farmers, rural development and the protection of our European countryside. So it is no answer to the question of the delineation of the EU's boundaries to claim the sanctity either of existing methods of governance or of present policy. In the founding treaties of the EU, the criteria that need to be satisfied to qualify for negotiating membership are very simple. Is the country concerned European, and does it share Europe's values? If a country passes those simple tests, demonstrating that it embraces pluralist democratic values under the rule of law is genuine not merely ceremonial or bogus, then we have no right to deny it a place at the negotiating table. The negotiations may not succeed, but they should certainly start. Not all our neighbours can satisfy these tests. For them ­ the countries on the southern and eastern Mediterranean shore, and the countries of the Southern Caucasus, for example ­ we have devised another policy, under which we seek to negotiate binding contractual agreements that should enable them in time to share our markets and many of our policies, and to share too our commitment to pluralism and democracy, without becoming members of the Union. But there are three examples of countries that in my judgement cannot be denied the perspective of EU membership without us resigning from the principle of creating a stable and democratic neighbourhood to which we have for so long been committed. First, there are the countries of South-east Europe including the Western Balkans. Two of these countries ­ Rumania and Bulgaria ­ are already promised entry into the EU in 2007. I remain concerned that this date is too ambitious especially for Rumania. But I shall be content to be proved wrong, and at least the Rumanians now have a government that is serious about tackling corruption. Albania and the countries that were once part of the now dismembered Yugoslavia are already promised membership one day; Croatia and Macedonia are in the initial stages of negotiation. There are two issues that cast long shadows over the whole region. The first is whether it can escape its own recent history, admitting the crimes done in the name of ethnicity and nationalism, and co-operating fully with the international community to bring those responsible for war crimes to justice. I believe that the Catholic church has played at best a mixed role in promoting reconciliation in the Balkans. The leadership of the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna has been exemplary, not least in relation to the Islamic communities in the region. But I would have difficulty saying the same about the church in Croatia, parts of which seem to have a real difficulty distinguishing between Catholicism and revanchist nationalism. The second shadow is organised crime. We do not take it sufficiently seriously. Nor do the countries in the region. They tell us what they are doing to stamp it out. We pretend to believe them. We have to be more open in raising our concerns. The victims of our coyness are the young girls who are pressed into prostitution in our cities, the drug addicts on our streets, and the poor urban communities terrorised by well-organised gangs. To the East of the present EU, bordering Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, lies the country whose name means "borderland", Ukraine. This is a country whose frontiers have frequently changed as dynasties, nations and armies have tramped this way and that across the Carpathian mountains and the steppes between the Dniester and Dnieper rivers. Is Ukraine geographically part of Europe? Yes. Is it historically and culturally part of Europe? Yes to that question too ­ especially its Western half. Do its aspirations lie with Europe? Remember the scenes of those crowds in Kiev sporting their orange flags and favours. What do we say to those Europeans who have risked all for democracy? Are we to tell them that the club is full, but that we wish them well in their efforts to sustain democracy, in the lee of a bruised and brooding Russia. And if we take in Ukraine, how can we ignore Moldova a country literally crippled by Russia's cynical refusal to help resolve the problem of Transnistria? However hard and imaginatively we work to stabilise our neighbourhood, we find ourselves running into a serious difference of opinion with Russia, a difference that our political leaders are reluctant to face squarely. The EU believe that the countries of our region should be strong, independent and prosperous. Russia does not want strong and independent neighbours: Russia today wants pliable neighbours in a sphere of influence. The Tsars wished for the same. Views that we developed in Western Europe in the second half of the twentieth century, clash with views that dominated that century's earliest bloody years. Turkey's position is different still. Since Ataturk Turkey has claimed a place in Europe, a point that was conceded forty two years ago when the President of the European Commission Walter Hallstein, signed an Association Agreement with Turkey, declaring when he did so. "Turkey is part of Europe. This is the deepest possible meaning of this operation which brings, in the most appropriate way conceivable in our time, the confirmation of a geographical reality as well as a historical truism that has been valid for several centuries". In those days the military and the security services dominated Turkish politics. Today Turkey is a democracy, so much so that the then American Deputy Secretary of Defence, Paul Wolfowitz, was despatched to Ankara after the Iraq invasion to scold the generals there for not having pushed their elected government into allowing American forces to attack Iraq from Turkey in the north. This is the same Turkey that America often and rightly presses us to accept as an EU member. We are told that this question of Turkish membership feeds negative sentiment about the constitutional treaty in the referendum campaigns in France and the Netherlands. It does so, I suspect, for reasons that will help determine what Europe is to become. There are worries about uncontrolled migration from deepest rural Anatolia. But Turkish entry to the EU does not need to mean that if ­ even in demographic free fall ­ we do not want it. Second, and more significant, there is a sense that our identity as Europeans is threatened by the arrival in the Union of an Islamic state. How so? We were not yesterday and are not today a society in Europe that can define itself coterminously with the Christian faith. Are we to deny the role of Jews and Moslems in our political, artistic, scientific, literary, commercial and architectural history? Are we to overlook the African and Asian roots of Christianity itself? Maybe it is true that we live in a largely secular society today, albeit with Christian roots and with ­ as Timothy Radcliffe argued ­ a deep spiritual want. But for all its casual, puzzled agnosticism, it is also a pretty tolerant society, and Turkey's accession to the EU would enable us to demonstrate that tolerance at home and in the wider world. Over a decade ago, the American political scientist Samuel Huntingdon wrote an influential book which predicted that the triumph of liberal democracy in Europe and the collapse of Communism would not be followed by global peace, a landscape dominated by lions lying down with lambs, but by a clash of civilisations: Confucian, Islamic, Christian. I argued strongly against that idea, which was used in Asia to justify authoritarianism, as though there was some cultural hostility in Confucianism to pluralism, human rights and democracy. The Asian financial crash of 1997-99 seemed to justify the sort of arguments that people like me had put forward; authoritarianism and crony capitalism did not represent either the Confucian tradition or the way of the future. Recovery from financial ruin often involved ­ for example in Thailand and South Korea ­ political as well as economic reform, transparency as well as better regulation. Then came the manifestations of Islamic political extremism in the 2000s, above all the atrocities in New York and Washington, and it seemed again that Huntingdon might be correct. We sometimes seem to have been trying, in much of what the Western world has done or has failed to do in the years since September 2001, to make Huntingdon's predictions come true. Turkey's accession to the EU would work in the opposite direction. It would enable Europe to throw a bridge across the fissures between the West and Islam, to show that democracy, tolerance and pluralism can prosper in Islamic societies as in Western. Turkey has been doing all the things that we urge on other Islamic countries in the name of democracy and human rights. What are other Islamic countries to conclude about us if, even after all this, we still judge that Turkey cannot join our club? What reason would we give that would sound even passingly plausible? If we want Western Asia to be democratic and stable, the best way of achieving that aim is by embracing the Islamic democracy that stands on the cusp between Europe and Asia. A stable, peaceful continent was the first of the principles that determined our development and that of our neighbours; the second principle we applied was trying to resolve our arguments through a rules-based system for settling these disputes. This is what underpins the day-to-day functioning of the EU. We used to fight for Strasbourg, now we argue there (and in Brussels and Luxembourg), argue and haggle about quotas for this and standards for that, a preferable and more civilised way for neighbours to do business than any previously tried or immediately obvious alternative. Some smart commentators call it post-modern. I would myself drop the "post". There are two essential elements in this pooling of sovereignty. The first is that it is a delusion for nation states to think that they can handle the problems or grasp the opportunities that crowd in on them on their own. Stand aside from sharing the taking of decisions with others, and you retain all the sovereignty that comes from not having a say in the decisions that others will in any event take, decisions that directly affect you. The second element is that the system only works if the rules apply equally to all. Of course, this does not reflect the fact that the bigger you are the more you are likely to be able to shape the rules that everyone has to follow. But "you" ­ however big you may be ­ are part of the "everyone". I suppose the best example of this approach outside our own borders was the American leadership in the creation of the institutions of global governance after the Second World War. America was the global super-power, only challenged by the sinister designs of Stalin's Soviet Union. The old empires were in retreat, if not collapse. Self-determination was the order of the day. From the war-time Atlantic Charter onwards, America sought to create agencies and rules that would provide the framework for dragging the world out of chaos into prosperous pluralism. The UN was established, then the Bretton Woods institutions and the forerunner of the WTO. The Declaration of Human Rights was agreed, with Eleanor Roosevelt leading the charge. Work began in the wake of the trials in Nuremburg and Tokyo to establish an international court to try future crimes against humanity ­ and, hey presto, in fifty years we have one. But what was this? In the 2000s America opposed its establishment. This is not a continuation of past policy, anymore than the present American stance on global warming and climate change reflects the continuation of opposition to environmental diplomacy. As recently as the 1980s it was America that was pressing often reluctant Europeans to accept the precautionary principle in environmental policy; it was America that was then leading the search to find ways of involving developing countries in environmental agreements whose present requirement was the result of the past practices of developed countries but whose future efficacy would demand the compliance of today's developing economies. That was what happened with the prohibition on ozone-depleting substances in the 1980s. Unlike other mighty powers, America did not by and large seek to turn its strength into territorial acquisition or a selfish disregard for the interests of the rest of the world; it led the creation of a global network of rules, and mostly accepted them for itself. America's much applauded soft power, exceeded the explosive potential of the content of all its silos. It could change regimes with its tanks and marines; but, more important, it could change societies through its example. At a time when we most need effective global co-operation to deal with global threats ­ from terrorism to environmental calamity to nuclear proliferation ­ some American sovereigntists question the very idea of an international rule of law and the role of the UN to prevent conflict and to legitimise the use of force when conflict is unavoidable. Indeed it is proposed to send a leading sovereigntist to New York to represent America at the UN there. What should Europe do? First, we have to do all we can to make the international system work better, though its effectiveness will be limited if America contracts out of international initiatives and agreements. In order to improve the prospects of consensus on the present proposals for UN reform, Europe should speak as one in supporting them. Second, we should accept explicitly that sometimes the preservation of the international rule of law requires the use of force, or its threatened use. To the extent that we flinch from this unfortunate truth, we lower our credibility in American eyes, living up to the caricature that Europe talks softly and carries a big carrot. Third, where America for the time being has contracted out of global agreements, for example the Kyoto Protocol and the International Criminal Court, we shall have to carry the responsibility for attempting to make them work. I do not believe that the present passage in American policy represents a permanent rejection of the interests of the rest of the world and the way of managing global affairs that America above all others created. But to persuade America to return to a different path, Europe has to speak and act convincingly as one ­ as a partner and friend, but not a rival. An immediate challenge for Europe is how to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The existing arrangements, policed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, have not worked too badly. There are today eight nuclear powers; President Kennedy used to fear that there could by now be two or three times that number. But we are faced today with a real threat of the disintegration of the existing arrangements. North Korea may well already have nuclear weapons; Iran declines to abandon the potential capacity to manufacture them. How should the world react? What is required ­ with America and China taking the lead in the case of North Korea, and Europe and America in the case of Iran ­ is a tough and coherent policy in each case that combines inducements with the threat of sanctions. But if sanctions are to be credible, we need to be sure that if and when we go to the UN Security Council to get endorsement for them, we receive its approval. Here we run into a difficulty created by an all-too obvious example of double standards. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, whose provisions are currently under review, needs to be tightened in order to reduce the capacity of non-nuclear powers to go nuclear. But they are reluctant to accept new and tougher obligations on their own side when the existing nuclear powers seem reluctant to accept their existing obligations to get rid of more of their own weapons and to abandon the development of a future generation of nuclear munitions. The main problem here is America's reluctance to forgo any future research, development or testing of nuclear weapons, or to forswear any first use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state. If we need to get tough with Iran or North Korea, then we must convince other countries that the rich well-armed West is prepared to play by the rules it wants them to accept. Our third principle in Europe is that our own societies should be plural democracies respecting human rights under the rule of law, and that these values should be reflected in our external policies. This is what is sometimes rather lumpishly called having an ethical foreign policy. I have never really understood the arguments that have raged around this idea. First, it seems fairly obvious that it is better to have an explicitly ethical than an unethical foreign policy. "What are the aims of your policy, Minister?" "Well, I want to act as immorally as possible around the world". It doesn't sound quite right, does it? Second, on the other hand to go around bragging that your every act is infused with a higher morality runs the risk of upset as the best of intentions bark their shins against the reality of a naughty world. Optimists like me believe in original virtue, but we still have to concede that it has to co-exist with original sin. Third, - and this is a point that the Victorians used to express in their hymns ­ it is normally good sense to try to do the right thing. In my experience, there is a remarkable correlation in making policy between expedience and morality. Democracies make the best neighbours. The safest countries in which to invest are the ones that treat their citizens decently. The law for Citizen 'X' is the same as the law for Ronald McDonald. Stability and democracy are most likely to be found where people have full stomachs. Let me begin these final remarks with this proposition, though I will not labour a point that featured prominently in Bob Geldof's lecture and on which there is broad agreement. Giving hungry people lectures on democracy is unlikely to bring much success in transforming their own attitudes and those of the societies in which they struggle to exist. Europe is the biggest aid donor in the world and is committed to doing much better. For years while a virtuous handful of northern European countries achieved the 0.7 per cent UN target, most of us piously expressed a commitment to it while in practice the target disappeared over a distant horizon. I think it was Harold Wilson who once drew a distinction between a pledge and a lightly given promise. For too long, on aid we have been in the lightly given pledge department. In real terms, aid budgets fell. Now we have turned the corner and done so in a way that promises to make easily verifiable progress. More European countries have now committed themselves to target dates for reaching 0.7 per cent. In addition, the EU's older member states have agreed a succession of steps, with all achieving the EU. average figure by given dates, which will ratchet up individual programmes with the European aggregate rising as they do so. Each time the average increases, it will drag up individual programmes. It does not help the starving when the aid debate turns into developed countries arguing over decimal points of percentages to show their allegedly greater generosity to the poor. But I was surprised by Bob Geldof's extremely charitable remarks about America's record. One day I hope that America's 0.15 per cent will overtake Italy's almost equally lamentable figure. It is a cliché, though nevertheless true, that trade is more important than aid; if Africa, for example, was able to recover half the share of global exports that it enjoyed two decades ago, the result would be worth many times any conceivable increase in aid flow. The Doha trade round must achieve what it was advertised to do, namely to make the world's trade rules fairer to the poor, to open American, Japanese and European markets wider to the agricultural produce of developing countries, and to stop dumping subsidised food on world markets. The next head of the WTO, the admirable Pascal Lamy, knows all this, as does his successor as EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson. They need and deserve all our political support to make it happen. Trade and aid will not by themselves produce that elusive higher growth in poor countries without better governance. Developing countries themselves have to show a strong commitment to this. The declared African covenant on democracy, the rule of law and human rights alas failed one of its earliest tests in Zimbabwe. Around the globe, Europe seeks to show its determination to support the broadening of participative government and an improvement in human rights by attaching clauses covering these issues to the trade and co-operation agreements we sign with other countries. This has been a particular feature of our partnership with Arab countries around the Mediterranean. I would not raise questions about this approach if we took it more seriously. But beyond the occasional European demarche ­ which does not exactly make strong men tremble ­ we have done little to stand over the contractual nature of human rights clauses. Today, we are in the ridiculous position of having human rights agreements with countries in the Middle East to which the present American administration sends suspected terrorists under the Orwellian-named policy of "extraordinary rendition" to be interrogated according to their own local methods ­ methods that have been all too well documented in the reports of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Far better in my view than negotiating these well-meaning but toothless clauses would be to set aside a much larger proportion of co-operation budgets for those countries that meet specific goals set by themselves but agreed with Europe and other donors for improving governance and the protection of human rights. Positive conditionality ­ rewarding good behaviour ­ is in practice much easier to manage than taking benefits away from those who behave badly. A stable and democratic neighbourhood, support for the international rule of law and the institutions that seek to monitor it, and the pursuit of values in external policy ­ these seem to me to provide the right framework for Europe's policy in the wider world. "If men could learn from history," lamented Samuel Coleridge, "What lessons it might teach us. But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind us". The image is compelling and beautiful, but the message is actually wrong. Seeing the state of the sea behind us gives us at least some idea of what the sea will be like ahead. That is what has informed the creation of the European Union, and the principles that it seeks to follow in its relations with the wider world. We may be maladroit; we may promise more than we achieve; we may from time to time stand accused of hypocrisy and double standards. Saints we are not. But I think that what we glean in the dark from the light on the stern, what we learn from our own history, is a valuable guide to present and future policy, and I only hope that we can follow that guidance more boldly and faithfully in the years ahead. Source: Archbishops' House
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