Professor Adrian Severin
Minister of Foreign Affairs 1996-1997
Member of the European Parliament 2009-2014
I would like to take this opportunity to put forth the following idea, linked to the future of the EU and that of Europe more broadly, for your consideration. The conscience of a European identity was forged in the collective struggle between the peoples inhabiting our continent and Islam. Islam, which constituted a federalising factor for Europeans and one which, in addition, has bequeathed us the heritage of a certain model of multiculturalism (encapsulated in the term, "conviventia") to which the European Union aspires today, in its attempt to distance itself from the tribal traditions of the continent.
However, the unification of Europe has already received a grievous blow in the past as a consequence of the conflict between Rome and Byzantium. Today, as in the 14th-15th centuries, Islam is knocking on the doors of Europe/the EU while, within the citadel – that is, the EU –, as happened during the siege of Constantinople, Catholics (the European West) and Orthodox (the European East) fight amongst themselves, instead of standing together. How might we capitalise upon our past, and yet avoid the pitfalls of repeating it? How might we reconcile the descendants of Rome with those of Byzantium?