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Di Maio: Letter: We must not risk becoming trapped by pride and patriotism (Financial Times)

Now as never before, Europe is facing a crucial challenge for its future, a challenge that has no precedent in the history of the EU and one that will inevitably mark our path and community and be recorded in the history books.

The coronavirus emergency has affected every one of us. It has changed our habits and intensified the difficulties faced by the most vulnerable. It will be a protracted emergency, one whose effects and economic consequences make it resemble a war. Over the years, the EU has always managed to avert such a war by adhering to its founding principles and following the words and spirit of those who have fought to build a joint project, a project of peace.

Over time, our peoples have learnt to talk to each other. They have emigrated, grown and integrated, preserving their cultures and sometimes emancipating them in a context of coexistence. This has opened up new horizons, especially for our young people.

The discussions now taking place around the EU tables must safeguard everything that has been built so far. Our countries are inextricably linked. It is an extraordinary bond, which we have a duty to preserve, including in the normal relations that each of us maintains with our respective public opinions. In this regard, I believe that the first duties of a politician are transparency and sincerity. These duties are inescapable, pushing us to give our best and, above all, making us profoundly aware that none of us, none of the 27 member states that make up our community today could succeed alone.

The pride and patriotism that each government has for its land are noble and legitimate sentiments. However, we cannot risk being trapped by them. We cannot turn to individualism. especially now that our destinies are so closely intertwined. It would mean renouncing our own strength. It would be incomprehensible to the world, whose eyes are now upon us. Now is the time to stand together, to fight together and to reflect. lb reflect on the future of the Union, on what we want, on our ambitions.

This is one of the worst crises ever, and one in which no one is to blame. We are facing a global pandemic, and we must admit the truth: Europe has so far failed to show sufficient solidarity. It has not been able to play as a team; nor has it shown any inclination to do so. Selfishness and personalism have emerged; there have even been clashes between newspapers in different countries. It is frankly a sad picture. which should be cause for reflection. not only for all Italians but for all European citizens.

Today we can no longer evade certain questions: what kind of Europe are we? More than 60 years after the creation of the EU, what have we become?

In his declaration of May 9 1950, when the nations of Europe were still trying to recover from the devastating consequences of the second world war, Robert Schuman said: “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.” Well, where is this solidarity today? What value do we want to attribute to it?

This is a question that we cannot afford not to consider. one that every European, every father and every mother must pass on to their children — even before dreaming of a federal Europe, even before thinking about the future, because the present is passing us by. But without the present, the future does not exist. The future is being built now.

We cannot let this opportunity to change history slip through our fingers.

We owe it to our children, to future generations. We owe it to the values of democracy and freedom that we have always defended and that, l hope, we will continue to defend.