What does integration mean in the European society?

Reflections from JEF seminar in Budapest (March 2011)

, by Federica Martiny

What does integration mean in the European society?

In which sense it is a tool for peace?

As young European citizens and especially as young European federalists we have to face constructively and proactively new changes in the composition of societies and cultures, not forgetting the minorities: in such a complicated framework we have to educate first of all ourselves towards a positive attitude to this multicultural society, especially in order to prevent racism.

We should as well discover the two faces of integration: it’s the best way to benefit from each other identities on both sides, which means that both old Countries and the new Member-States are still building a more significant mutual understanding and a better integration, by re-thinking their cultural identity and by discovering the value of reciprocity.

Unfortunately, discrimination, racism and xenophobia are still persistent phenomena in the EU and they affect the lives of people of ethnic minorities in the EU, such as those in the Balkans, and which are incompatible with the values that the European Union is based upon, since from Immanuel Kant’s essay Perpetual Peace: a philosophical sketch, in which the concept of peace is seen not just as the absence of war and conflicts but as the impossibility to have and realize them. Anyway this is only the starting point of the argument of the old idea that a federation of States based on the democratic values and on the tendency to human moral elevation could produce a perpetual peace in the world.

We have to underline the negative impact that racist crimes and racist speeches as well and different discrimination experiences have on our cultural perception and on the way of seeing ourselves and our society. The awareness about the importance of human rights seems increasingly removed respect to some particular situations involving ethnic minorities in the old continent.

It’s a moral obligation not to forget that integration means as well integration of the minorities, all around Europe, even in order to promote a good example to the rest of the world, showing to all the other communities that we finally have learned something precious from our own history, which is a history of tragedies and bloodshed.

Europe has been the scene of devastating wars, not least the Two World Wars, which can be defined as European civil wars. For centuries the Europeans have been fighting each other, almost forgot to be part of the human race but now, since the birth of the first European Community, they understood the importance to follow a better common destiny and to cooperate to achieve it, in order to complete the highest human essence.

To achieve such a high and difficult aim it is essential to be part of a political, social and moral community, to fell of being part of it, to work actively for its development. To give concrete life to Kant’s design of a perpetual peace which could be a real peace also for the minorities all over the continent we need to complete the old dream of the United States of Europe that have guided the actions and thoughts of the authors of the Ventotene Manifesto and of the Founding Fathers of Europe. By rediscovering the power of their words and the meaning of their choices we should try to understand our present and to act for a better future, in Europe, in the European Federation.

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