José Luis García Delgado
In Spain, modernization is commonly mistaken with Europeanization since the dawn of the 20th century. This is a symbiotic relationship generalized in the artistic creation and in scientific research, in the institutional order and in the social habits; an advertisement of economical progress and social transformation. In the last hundred years, along a bumpy ride, we have seen advances and fallbacks of this process, which we must say, first occurred facing Europe, using it as an object of emulation; and later from the outside when the political margination did not allow us to participate in the funding stages of the continental community; finally, we see the most fertile part of this process from the inside, once Spain is incorporated into developments of the European Union. The first part relates to the Spain of the first third of the 20th century, the other with the Franco period, and lastly the Spain that has democracy as its axis and framework.
These are as a matter of fact the three positions -facing, outside and inside Europe- that identify somehow the course of modernization in the contemporary Spain. This is obviously a simplification, but it allows us to present a coherent exposition. While the Spanish neutrality during the First World War is symbol of the position of Spain in a Europe where the large Central Empires are ending and dictatorial and totalitarian regimes rise, the external position of Spain in the Treaty of Rome is a summary of its fate during the Franco period. Similarly, the integration of Spain in Europe cannot be separated from the modernization of the democratic Spain.
These are parallel trajectories after all. Nor neutrality in one case, or belligerence and isolation in the other, will prevent on the long run that Spain ends up participating, volens nolens -as written by Laín-, of the common destiny of all European peoples along a century that first showed all of them the stark face of tragedy, but that later wrote some of its best and most encouraging pages. Now when the 100th anniversary of the "guns of August" of 1914 is taking place, it is the right time to analyze the key events of a century-long evolution that does not support the thesis of the Spanish "anomaly", and to reflect on the challenges posed by the present times in Europe and Spain.
The European Union (EU) as we knew it prior to the beginning of the 2007 crisis does not exist anymore. A new justification is needed and we can no longer think that the legitimacy of the EU has its origins in the war, nor there is a common enemy to justify its existence. The process itself is being questioned.
If "europos" means "he who sees far away" (this is how Homer named Zeus), currently we are lacking such vision among our national an European leaders. If there was leadership in the states, exemplary nature and capacity to convince and engage with ambitions, goals and responsibility requirements, there would be leadership in Europe.
Spain has been a loyal partner who has shared the same perceptions and compromises of the six founding members, and thus, we have never showed doubts on the aims of integration, or its method. We have fought the syndrome of periphery with a strategy based on being at the heart of Europe. We have provided revitalization, rescued the original model, and enhanced it by renewing its political aspirations. Our economic and social cohesion initiative showed the way to the new states of Eastern Europe.
The "heart" of Europe is currently weakened after so many amplifications, and this lack of dynamism harms the medium states for whom having a strong independent Commission was always the best ally. We cannot forget that right now there is a critical vision among the public opinion and media due to the lack of leadership in the integration process.
The feeling is that the counterbalance mechanisms have not worked the last years and a certain risky deinstitutionalization is confirmed. The symmetric cooperation which characterized the comunity methodology has been substituted by an asymmetric intergovernmentalism of creditors and debtors.
What if Europe ceased existence? What would be the fate and viability of Spain and Europe without the EU? Can there be a "World without Europe"? What if Europe had never existed? We would have probably not lived these 35 years of democracy and welfare...