Saturday 15. August 2020

The soothsayer’s predictions missed the mark in 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, our European leaders find themselves confronted with not just one, but with a series of intractable problems.

In 1979 the British writer Roald Dahl published a short story collection entitled Tales of the Unexpected: it is as good a title as any to describe the narrative of 2015. What is particularly alarming is that the unexpected, the event or the development that no one foresaw (or the warning signs of which were studiously ignored) and that has suddenly rushed its way to the top of the political agenda, is shaping public policy. Our political leaders and the officials, in both the European capitals and in the EU institutions scrambling to keep up with them, are taking policy decisions with enormous impact on our society literally on the hoof.


There is a truism that hard cases make bad law. By analogy, one could claim that knee-jerk policy making in response to situations which, however urgent, are still exceptional, is not a good either strategically or politically. As 2015 comes to a close, our European leaders find themselves confronted with not just one, but with a series of intractable problems. Few envy them their task. Mapping out the way forward has them all baffled.


The key events of 2015 need but the most cursory of rehearsals. The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the Greek political, economic and social crisis of virtually Sophoclean proportions, the euro (our common currency at the very heart of the European project) in peril, the humanitarian crisis of refugees and migrants (collateral damage of a civil war on our doorstep) and their integration in the EU, and now a second key-stone of the European project under threat, i.e. the Schengen area, as the agents of self-styled Islamic State catapult Europe – winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 – into an uncharted battle field. No one, not even the most clairvoyant twenty-first century successor to the Sybil of Cumae plying her trade in Paris or elsewhere, could have foreseen the events that have shaped the Europe of today.


Christmas and Epiphany are an annual reminder that our God has visited our world, that there is an on-going solidarity between heaven and earth. Christmas is also about light appearing in the midst of darkness, transforming our world. For those who do not share our religious convictions, what are increasingly referred to as the Holidays or les fêtes de fin d’année still provide fresh hope that a better tomorrow is indeed possible. At Europe Infos this is a conviction we share.


Moreover, we believe that a new appreciation of our foundational values as European project, a recovery of some of that spiritual and humanitarian energy which launched the European integration dream and inspired its founders, can rescue us today. We want a society that is open, free, welcoming and democratic. We aspire to a Europe in which all citizens who own its values have a role to play in the fashioning of our community. And whether they just arrived in our midst during the summer of 2015 or have been born here, their rights, entitlements and duties remain the same.


A blessed Christmas & Epiphany, and a Happy New Year.

 Patrick H. Daly



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Note: The views expressed in europeinfos are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Jesuit European Office and COMECE.