Europe Daily Bulletin No. 12358

29 October 2019
Contents Publication in full By article 27 / 27
Kiosk / Kiosk
No. 002

Artisans de l’Europe

Published to coincide with the French presidency of the Committee of Ministers, this work celebrates 70 years of the Council of Europe, which was born in 1949 to continent torn apart by war, with the principal ambition of bringing European States together in a peaceful and democratic institution respectful of human rights. The work of this pan-European organisation, which currently has 47 member countries and a mission to protect 830 million people, has allowed it, over the course of its existence, to develop irreplaceable instruments such as the European Convention and Court of Human Rights, the cultural convention and the European Pharmacopoeia. “The Council of Europe is Europe both at ground level and on a continental scale. It is an enterprise of humanity”, sums up Emmanuelle Macron, who wrote the afterword to this collection of 30 personal accounts that remind us of the entrant role this organisation has played in the abolition of the death penalty, the fight against torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, corporal punishment, violence against women and children, trafficking in human beings as well as racism and discrimination in all its forms.

The texts that make up this work were written by anonymous [af1] individuals (secretaries general, deputy secretaries general, President of the European Court of Human Rights) and employees in a range of very different styles, spanning everything from the anecdotal to the historical. They include personal accounts of specific events and descriptions of the process, strewn with comments or personal views. It begins with the memories of one of the first people to work for the Council of Europe, Félix Kappler, in the summer of 1949, going on to describe the sequence of events that have shaped the history of the continent and of the organisation, with particular reference to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the war in the Balkans.

In a chapter entitled “La patrie de la démocratie bafouée” (‘the homeland of democracy trampled’), Peter Leuprecht, deputy secretary general between 1993 and 1997, tells us the story of the coup d’état of 1967 and of the Greek military junta or colonels’ dictatorship, with his memories of his meetings with those “formidable dictators straight out of an operetta” in his visits to the country with Dutch parliamentarian Max van der Stoel, a major player in the pressure and denunciation actions that led to a “de facto suspension” of Greece at the end of the year 1969. He considers that it is “beyond all doubt that the actions of the Council of Europe provided an essential contribution to the isolation and, ultimately, the downfall of the dictatorship in Greece” in July 1974. “As for the role played by the United States and NATO, this provides food for thought. As has so often been the case in other countries, the United States defended the military and dictatorial regime in Greece: the colonels were considered faithful allies of NATO. The American government moved heaven and earth to try to block the actions of the Council of Europe against the Greek regime”, he writes, adding: “interestingly, to bring off their coup, the colonels used and abused a secret NATO plan for deployment in the event of communist uprisings. However, there was no uprising or any threat of such. In the official propaganda, NATO is presented as a school of democracy, particularly for the Armed Forces and its member states. This is absolutely not what it was in Greece at that time”.

The former Russian ambassador Alexandre Orlov talks about the role played by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s and the concept of the “common European home” proposed in a speech made in Strasbourg in July 1989 by the last President of the Soviet Union. In it, he stresses “the moral and political debt that Europe and the world owe to the person who allowed such revolutionary changes to come about peacefully”. “His vision of a ‘common European home’ seems inaccessible today, but I consider that it is still relevant, to overcome the tension, clashes and misunderstandings that have appeared and, in some cases, become exacerbated, in recent years. Today, 23 years after the Russian Federation joined the Council of Europe, my commitment to this institution, which represents the common values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, remains intact. I firmly believe that there is an urgent need to recreate a positive dynamic of dialogue and cooperation between all countries on our old continent, so that we can continue to build a common legal space that is the only way to guarantee the peace and stability of Europe”, the former Russian ambassador writes.

The coming together of the two traditional separate parts of the continent was also the topic chosen by Catherine Lalumière, secretary general from 1989 to 1994, who writes that when she arrived in Strasbourg, “the characteristics of the Council seemed extremely vague (to her)”, before recognising the importance of the values and role of the Council of Europe and reiterating her ardent belief that European integration can be solid and durable only if it is possible to put together the two pieces of the initial project. “Today, the European citizens are no longer quite sure where they are. They do not see the objectives clearly. They do not fully understand the choices presented by Europe. And finally, I believe that we need to put this European project all back together so that it can fulfil expectations. The meaning of the project needs to be clear and not limited to creating a huge open market or free-trade zone. The European project also includes spiritual values, mindsets and lifestyles, which involve not only the major public freedoms of human rights and the rule of law, but also solidarity, social justice, respect for others, etc., on which the Council of Europe has worked constantly but that, most unfortunately, the EU has so far relegated to second place”, Catherine Lalumière writes.

Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, deputy secretary general since 2012, takes advantage of the publication to reiterate the importance of the cultural convention, which now brings together 50 countries (47 members of the Council of Europe plus the Holy See, Belarus and Kazakhstan). Culture, she writes, “can – and must – resist various tendencies of society: such as intolerance inspired by blind selfishness or excessive tolerance of the irresponsible use of resources or technologies”. “It seems obvious that nobody would think about trying to harmonise European culture. Reducing its great diversity would impoverish it and ultimately kill it off”, she stresses, going on to quote from Jean Monnet: “if it all needed to be done all over again, I would start with culture”. She adds: “at a time when people are standing against the resurgence of nationalism and the rise of populism to call for the refounding and even the renaissance of Europe, it may be time to put culture (back) at the heart of the European project”.

The final chapter of this publication has not yet been written. In common with other multilateral institutions, the Council of Europe comes under attack, sometimes even from the inside, by nationalist and populist forces. Major member states call into question the commitments they made when they joined, certain members of the European Union take liberties with our common principles. The rule of law is under threat, liberty is imperilled. The very authority of the Court is challenged in the name of national sovereignties”, states Emmanuel Macron, who concludes: “It is therefore a very healthy exercise for this publication to remind us how much commitment, tenacity and patience European integration required and how much it still requires”. Olivier Jehin


Denis Huber (under the direction of). Artisans de l’Europe. 30 témoignages pour 70 ans d’histoire 1949-2019. Editions La Nuée Bleue. ISBN: 978-2-7165-0880-3. 352 pages. €20.00 (available in French only)


Brexit – Der Binnenmarkt im Rückwärtsgang

With this short, highly accessible work full of specific examples, former member of the European Parliament Karl von Wogau (who served for 30 years, between 1979 and 2009), tells the story of the dismantlement of customs and development of the single market. This self-published work, which is full of personal memories and anecdotes, is intended as the first part of a trilogy; the author plans to move on to two other subjects close to his heart since he first sat in the European Parliament: the single currency and European defence.

Above and beyond the argument in favour of the single market and a breakdown of the efforts necessary to make it possible, this work also highlights how much of a setback Brexit and its consequences will be: reappearance of customs-related red tape, customs controls and queues at control posts, increase in customs staff numbers, requirement for businesses to comply with standards and rules that may develop in different directions, etc. The scope and cost of these consequences are currently unknown, but will inevitably include an impact on the competitiveness of businesses.

According to Karl von Wogau, what now needs to be done is to put Europe back on its feet. This presupposes a development of three different dimensions on the basis of different speeds: the single market which should, subject to certain conditions, also be open to the neighbours of the European Union, particularly the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway; the Eurozone, with strict participation rules; a defence union with a “proper” European army, to be paid for out of the European Union budget. (O.J.)


Karl von Wogau. Brexit – Der Binnenmarkt im Rückwärtsgang. Amazon Fulfillment. ISBN: 978-1-794-35787-7. 119 pages. €12.99 (available in German only)


L’extrême droite en Europe occidentale (2014-2019)

Although this study leaves out many of the far-right movements and small groupings, the development of which also merit an examination, the Socio-Political Research and Information Centre (known by its French acronym, CRISP) presents an overview of the far right in Western Europe over the last 15 years, which has been marked by increasingly positive election results for national, populist and far-right political movements. This progression, which has been made possible by efforts to de-demonise these parties by means of various forms of legitimisation or normalisation, total or partial and always challenged. Examples of these parties include the Rassemblement national in France, the Lega in Italy and Vlaams Belang in Belgium, to name but three. However, progression also leads to growing political influence in the national debate, which is taking shape in certain countries (Austria, Finland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland) by means of participation in a government coalition and, in others (Denmark and the Netherlands), is based on external support for a minority government.

There are many factors and, in some cases, a combination of these, to explain this progression. They vary between one country and the next: economic crisis, fear globalisation, effect of the migration crisis, a political vacuum, the professionalisation or fragmentation of political movements, the popularity of their leaders. “The cases of Ireland, Iceland, Portugal and – until recently in any case – Spain show how many countries are able to avoid succumbing to the far right in spite of economic crisis. In the opposite corner, there are countries that have been barely affected by economic crisis, such as Norway and Switzerland, where political groupings belonging to this movement are prospering”, concludes this study, which may seem to undermine the usual explanation for the development of far-right parties, but also reiterates that the political or historical culture of each country may, depending on the case, facilitate or hamper their development. Finally, the study reminds us that although radical or extremist groups differ in terms of discourse and objectives, they have found that taking an anti-system, pro-sovereignist and Eurosceptic stance enables them to benefit from the scandals that all too regularly come to light in various countries and from the inability of the traditional institutions and political parties to achieve European integration.

The situation presented in this study by Benjamin Biard was completed in September 2019. It analyses developments in 18 countries, or three more (Finland, Iceland and Malta) than in the previous CRISP study on the same subject, which was published in 2004. (O.J.)


Benjamin Biard. L’extrême droite en Europe occidentale (2014-2019).Courrier hebdomadaire n° 2420-2421. CRISP (http://www.crisp.be ). ISBN: 978-2-87075-217-3. 104 pages. €12.40 (available in French only)


La merveilleuse histoire de l’Europe

This is an excellent publication. From its format, its editorial style, for it genuinely reads like a story, to the graphics and illustrations, the work of students of the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin, this little book, which is aimed (first and foremost) at the younger generations, is a complete success. It takes us through the last 70 years, which have seen “rapid, prodigious and insufficient progress”, having taken us on a journey through the whole of history since the myth of Europe. It also reminds us that the “unity of Europe is unquestionably geographic, but that it is in particular the result of an ethic, a profound desire for peace and a humanist tradition born on the banks of the Rhine”.

I do not believe in just any Europe, I believe in a project that puts the European citizens at front and centre. I do not believe Europe is just a market. I believe in a proper European democracy that guarantees fundamental rights and equality for the citizens of the continent. This was the utopia of many generations; it must be the reality of ours. There are still so many battles to fight, so many victories to be won, before we will be able to see this European democracy emerge, to give it the resources it needs to respond to the challenges of our time. These challenges are called humanism, fraternity and ecology”, writes Hervé Moritz, President of the Jeunes européens, who wrote the afterword. He concludes that “it is up to us, the citizens of Europe, to us, the young people of the continent, to take up the flame, to fight this battle, to push back against nationalistic tendencies and take the baton from the founders of Europe. Let us place our trust in full and complete, open and inclusive democracy, to meet the challenges of our time. It is up to us to continue to write the marvellous history of Europe. Let us be a committed generation of re-founders of Europe”. (O.J.)


Jean-Louis de Valmigère (under the direction of). La merveilleuse histoire de l’Europe. Editions Hervé Chopin (http://www.hc-editions.com ). ISBN: 978-2-3572-0435-5. 122 pages. €14.50 (available in French only)