Europe stands at the crossroads.”Opening the conference on the future of Europe in Brussels on 22 March, Jan Zahradil, ACRE (Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe) President, Vice-Chairman, International Trade Committee, European Parliament, spoke about Europe not being equal with the EU.

The Brussels Summit: A Future for Europe is taking place on March 22nd in Brussels, at the Steigenberger Wiltcher’s Hotel.

By “more Europe” they mean of course “more EU”, although these two terms are not identical.  Europe is whole civilization, while EU is just the organizational framework, set of rules, an instrument – nothing more nothing less – and definitely not the first one in European history, said Zahradil.

There is no reason to have just one currency, Zahradil insisted, pleading for a multi-currency union.

On euro: there is no real economic reason why the Euro should be the only currency of the single market. In fact, the reason is only political. Eurozone is kept alive by means of massive debt transfers in order to save a political project into which a lot of political capital has already been invested. But I believe the common currency should be made voluntary. EU should become multicurrency union.  The member states outside the Eurozone must recognise that to secure the success of their currency the Eurozone needs better governance and will need to make substantial institutional changes. At the same time, those inside the Eurozone will need to ensure those outside that they will not form a discriminatory voting block. It is essential that EU institutions work equitably and impartially for both those inside and outside the common currency, said Zahradil.

On the defence and security matters, the ACRE president said:

I believe the military aspects of security and defence should rest squarely with NATO. There is a role for the European Union, as a complement to work alongside and in coordination with NATO to secure peace and to fight terrorism. But, we must never permit the EU to become an alternative, competitor or challenger to NATO.

Zahradil also pleaded for an enlarged “subsidiarity” and criticised the neglect in which Muslims were left among themselves all across Europe, creating “parallel societies“, some of them pitted against Western civilisation.

The streets, squares and public places of cities in Spain, UK, France, Belgium, Germany and elsewehere have become recently targets of fanatics, mostly driven by religious hatred towards entire Western civilization. Let´s be very clear: for too long we allowed creation of parallel societies in Europe, we didn’t acknowledge radicalisation and downright defiance of our common values among some migrant communities and diasporas in Europe. We believe in religious freedom, but religious freedom does not stand above rule of law, our constitutional order and civil liberties. In our society we believe in equality of every citizen, regardless of their race, religion, social class, sex, gender, sexuality or cultural background, but with equal rights come equal duties towards the society as a whole. Ideas and views don’t have rights, individuals have rights. And anybody who comes to Europe is expected to respect our laws and our rules in full, no exceptions.

Zahradil defended himself —and the ECR at large— of being total eurosceptics, or of wishing the end of the EU, but:  there is a discrepancy between the overarching societal ideology as it is expressed by the political elite and the daily experience of the electorate, he said.

Europe thus stands at the crossroads, but we can still reverse its course, or, as Zahradil concluded:

Many ancient civilizations collapsed when their internal complexity surpassed the limits of sustainability, when their creative energies were aimed in the wrong direction and too many of their resources were spent on their internal operation. Let´s not fall into that trap once again.