You describe the effects which incoming foreign investment has on Venice, turning this iconic European city into a "Disneyland amusement park." Is the whole debate about a common European identity and feeling misguided; are we aiming to construct a stable and prosperous Europe that is "photogenic"? Do we need to focus more on building Europe and its practical conditions that shape our everyday life?

There is no European identity in the first place. There is European common history, European values, European culture etc, but all that is not enough to form a strong sense of belonging. European identity exists in a superficial way, for example when you visit the USA you feel different about, say, medical care. In that sense, you are a European. Moreover, there is no debate about European identity and what it should be - and why. How could we have a common debate of that kind when we do not have one of the very basic prerequisites for a common identity, a common language? Neither that, nor common media where the debate would take place…

Photo: dalem (CC-BY-NC)
In the future, will we only read about the European way of life in a museum, or will our European flame still be burning?

Also, perhaps we should accept that it is not only us (and who is Us, by the way? Citizens of Europe? Or only of the EU?) who are shaping Europe. 

In a debate regarding former Yugoslavia, you wrote: "If reconciliation between France and Germany, for example, had been left to citizens, a united Europe would still be a hundred years off." Does it also apply to European integration and the construction of a common identity: do we need to rely on politicians to initiate discussions and actions? If not only politicians, who should take an active role and will we/they ever succeed?

Political leadership is needed, but we have a new sort of politicians who are not really concerned with public interest, but only their own careers. They depend on opinion polls and their aim is to be popular and therefore they reach for populist rhetoric, trying to please the crowd. There are no big visionary leaders among them, at least at the moment. Plus there are not enough "thinking people" whose voices could be heard. They used to be called intellectuals, but this is dying species! So, it is hard to see who is representing public interest today.

How do you envision Europe to be in 30 years?

In my story "Euroskansen" I am describing Europe in the future as an amusement park. Tourists from the whole world will be visiting it to see and admire how Europeans lived before in a welfare state, with free schools, free medical care, pensions, paid maternal leave and long summer vacations. By then, that kind of life we are used to will be long gone. 

Slavenka Drakulić, together with E&M, will participate in a discussion called "Debating Europe: Imagine Europe," organised by our partner the Körber Foundation in September, 2012. As E&M readers, you have the chance to post questions that you would like to see answered by Drakulić by leaving a comment below. Whether you agree or disagree, tell us what you think and let's get the discussion started! 

Teaser Image: Piccadilly Pink (CC BY-NC-SA)

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