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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Is a united Europe still possible?

Along with the euphoria surrounding German reunification ten years ago there was also a belief in Germany that it was necessary to have a united Europe.

But ten years on, enthusiasm for the project seems to have lost its momentum.

Has the West lost the political will to complete the project of uniting Europe announced by Helmut Kohl?

In our Europewide debate which came from Berlin, the BBC's William Horsley brought together Gerd Langguth, Professor of Political Science at Bonn University, and Peter Dunai, Berlin Correspondent of the Hungarian newspaper Nepszabadsag.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I can easily see Europe slipping into a loose confederation like the US was in 1776-1789

Osiris Johnson, Hawaii, USA
I believe this coming century will be one marked by migration across European borders. This already exists to a small extent and increased economic unity can only help drive the numbers higher. As different economies (Germany or Spain) boom they will draw people to them helping to create an ever growing pool of mixed ancestry people who have a hard time seeing themselves as French since there is that half German side to them and vice versa. Add to that the fact that people will want to have some means of democratic control over certain pan-European laws which effect businesses and other areas. With all that, I can easily see Europe slipping into a loose confederation like the US was in 1776-1789, although I think they would be wiser to have a clear end goal in mind.
Osiris Johnson, Hawaii, USA

Europe can't be united as long as the British are torn between Europe and the US. It's sad that although this attitude is boosted by chauvinism, the UK would play a much lesser part in (or should I say under) a US alliance.
Aris, Canada

Nobody expected the development of a united Europe would come easily. I remain hopeful that the current troubles are merely a sign of finally discovering where the real line between nationalism and globalism should lie. If Europe cannot create a common identity, there is surely little hope for the rest of the world.
Patrick Lacz, USA

I can see a united Europe in the future, I would even vote for closer links to our European neighbours. Unfortuately I see many problems within my OWN country that require sorting before the people will join, unless to solve these problems means joining.
Leon, England

It must surely have become clear to everyone that a blind adherence to the federal ideal of unity has simply led to rejection. The Danes are level-headed people, and Europhiles cannot excuse events by their usual tactic of crying "xenophobia". What we need now is a multi-speed Europe in which those countries that wish to have constitutional links with one another may do so, while those that value their own history and independence can enjoy a free trade relationship that benefits everyone.
Jon Livesey, USA

There are simpler ways to achieve economic goals without losing one's cultural identity

George Milton, USA
I think that Europeans will eventually see that piling layer upon layer of bureaucratic systems on top of each other is an unsustainable condition, regardless of the goal. There are simpler ways to achieve economic goals without losing one's cultural identity.
George Milton, USA

In order for a true European Union to come into being, Europeans have to decide what sort of union they want. I, personally believe that in the short term there will be a united Europe, without Russia, which will then divide into three parts - one under German influence and one outside it under US influence (perhaps as part of an extended NAFTA) plus Russia.
J. Knight, UK

I agree wholeheartedly that Europe should not look to the United States as a model for unification. If anything, the binding force should be a desire to stand up to the arrogance inherent in the American concept of leadership. The world community must exist in a co-operative sense, and any attempt to put one nation in the leadership position is nothing short of destructive. It is highly unlikely that the US will back down unless challenged by an unquestionably formidable opponent. For the sake of other cultures, I sincerely hope that Europe is able to unite and become that challenger.
Kate Crawford, USA

I think we should move away from always looking to the USA as an example of unity between states. As it's often been pointed out, European nations are vastly different from US states. Why should we embrace the example of the USA anymore than other examples of political unions? I say we find our own way when it comes to European unity.
Ross Alexander, East Anglia, UK

I find it unlikely that Europe will unite anytime soon

Greg, USA
I find it unlikely that Europe will unite anytime soon. There is no desire among the majority of the people for this outcome. The vote by the Danes on joining the euro only highlights the fact that no European Government has allowed their people to vote on any of the changes taking place. I suspect (admittedly from the outside) that most Europeans would like to retain their national identity and culture. I further suspect that any government brave enough to put this question to the ballot will find me to be right in short order.
Greg, USA

I don't see why the project has lost its momentum. The negative answer of the Danes and the scepticism of countries like Sweden and the UK does not mean that the remaining Europe cannot go ahead.
George, UK

I don't think there will ever be a 'United States of Europe'. For one thing unlike the USA, all the countries have long established and differing cultures, history, language(s) and laws. The other major obstacle is the population of Europe. Unlike the Americans, no matter which states they are from, they think of themselves of Americans, whereas people from the European nations, think of themselves, for example, British or French, before they would think of themselves as Europeans.
Vinod Chhotu Patel, England

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See also:

03 Oct 00 | Europe
Germans mark decade of unity
02 Oct 00 | Europe
Counting the cost of German unity
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