At end of the 1945 Europe was far from what we take for granted today. Death, ruined cities, extreme poverty, diseases, and economic destruction were the main characteristics of a continent populated by peoples that had, just months earlier, fought fiercely against each other. Numbers can show a great part of the truth: more than 63 million deaths; in Germany, it has been estimated, 70% of housing had gone and, in the Soviet Union, 1,700 towns and 70,000 villages had met with the same fate and many Europeans were surviving on less than 1,000 calories per day.
A new Europe had to be built. The founding fathers of today’s European Union revived a vision of European unity and promoted the idea of cooperation between European nations – but their most important achievement was to secure peace across the continent for the time to come. What followed is revealing: gradually, the largest single market was created with more than half a billion people and comprising 27 countries. The improvement in the quality of life the last sixty years have witnessed was spectacular, thousands of Europeans travel and work around Europe without restraints, institutions have been created in which all member states work together in order to enact common policies and find common solutions and the Union has become an advocate of human rights and democracy in the world.
In general, the history of modern Europe and its successes in the field of democratic policy and human development is what I truly admire and what inspires me. The European model of unification and cooperation could be the model for the rest of the world and in combination with the long and rich cultural heritage the continent and its peoples boast it is possible to create a cultural, political, and economic superpower. That is, if the Union is reformed and perfected.
Image courtesy to David (dbking) via Flickr, released under creative commons share alike.