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2011-06-25

Der Spiegel: How European Elites Lost a Generation

The European Union is in bad shape. Not only is the common currency in a shambles and the economies of many member states moribund, but young Europeans no longer see how the EU helps them. Millions of them are taking to the streets to demand a future.

SPIEGEL Staff, 23 June 2011



When Jacques Delors, 85, is asked about Europe, he says things like: "Europe needs a pioneering spirit," and he asks:

"Do the men and women of this era truly want this Europe?"

Delors, together with former French President François Mitterrand and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, was one of the driving forces behind the European Union, and under his leadership as president of the European Commission, treaties were signed that would be impossible to forge agreement on today.

"We are talking about the Zeitgeist, aren't we, about the 'mood'?" says Delors.

By that he means that two crises are unfolding at the same time in Europe today.

On the one hand, there is the debt crisis faced by individual nations. The second crisis, and the more dangerous one, is a crisis of meaning.

Do Europeans -- the citizens and their political elites -- even want the historic project of a European Union anymore?

The search for an answer to this question inevitably leads to those places where agitation is at its most intense, where citizens are fighting for the future, even if is only their personal future. It leads to Barcelona, Dublin, Athens, Lyon and Lisbon, to the rebellious crowds full of rage but not necessarily full of hope.

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