Why should we cheer the European Union?
From a Foreign Affairs interview with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski:
The European Union is extremely good for Poland. It was good for us even before we joined, because it gave us a strategic direction and a sort of civilizational template that secured democratic free markets in law. It required determination to get there, but now it is also the framework in which, for example, we no longer fear Germany, because we are both stakeholders in the same community. And the Visegrad Group -- Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary -- have the same number of votes as Germany and France combined. The Polish presidency in the European Union was particularly useful. It helped us to improve the quality of our state apparatus, gave us the experience of responsibility for 500 million people, and taught us to think on a continental scale.
Yep. As David wrote last year, the Union is a triumph worth defending:
It’s an inspiring thing to visit the German-Polish border and see — not barriers, not legacies of old hatreds — but goods-laden trucks whizzing past as casually as if they were crossing the North Carolina-South Carolina state line. It’s an inspiring thing to visit Alsace and see this territory that was contested in three terrible wars arrive at peace via the simple proposition: If you want a house in Alsace, buy one. Who cares which sovereign delivers the mail?
The European Union presents every member nation with a magnificently attractive vision: A Europe at peace with itself, a Europe of rising prosperity, a Europe in which Europeans can move freely to live and work. When extremist forces arise in European countries — as they are rising now in Greece and in Hungary — they are met with the answer, “But if we yield to these forces, we’ll put ourselves outside Europe. No more right to work in London. No more aid from Germany.” The desire to qualify for Europe has powerfully pulled countries such as Serbia and Romania along the democratic path — and in years to come will exert the same force upon Belarus and Ukraine.
Hopefully, the desire to join the Union proves to be a modernizing force countries like Turkey. There is no motivating factor like a shot at prosperity.