Wednesday, March 23, 2016

It's not Belgium, it's us

After the terror attacks in Brussels yesterday, the authorities in Paris decided to decorate the Eiffel tower with the colours of the Belgian flag. Of course this is a well intentioned initiative. But it gives a wrong message. The attack on Brussels is not an attack on Belgium, it is an attack on Europe. And the risk of further attacks will not be minimized unless a European answer is given to international terrorism. Security is an example of a pure public good. Of course some security threats are local (some of them ultralocal, like the safety risks of babies at home) but the current terror threats in Europe concern all Europeans. Anti-terrorism policy is today a European public good. There are obvious gains from European coordination of anti-terrorism policies. Europe should have its own FBI, as well as it should have a common asylum policy, a common fiscal policy, and a common strategy to deal with immigration and refugees. It is in the common interest of all Europe, all its member states and all its citizens. A common European FBI would be no panacea, just as the FBI and the CIA are no panacea in the USA, but they would get us closer to feel better protected. I also found a little bit ridiculous the calls to patriotism by the French authorities after the terror attacks in Paris last December. The combination of the euro crisis, the refugee crisis and the terror attacks works in the direction of lowering the prestige of the European idea, but at the same time works in the direction of illustrating more than ever the need to leave the nation-states behind and create a common narrative of solidarity and fraternity that supports the efforts to create common institutions and policies.

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