The Miriam College Department of International Studies (MC-IS), in partnership with the Philippine International Studies Institute (PHISO) and the European Studies Association of the Philippines (ESAP), held its second virtual lecture via Zoom. The second resource speaker was Mr. Enverga, who is known for his expertise and knowledge about European politics, regionalism, culture, and diplomacy. He is the Director and Assistant Professor for the European Studies Program of the Ateneo de Manila University.
To begin his presentation, he discussed the history of the European Union (EU), tracing its origins from the devastations brought about by the second world war, and to the Schuman Declaration of 1950. Moreover, he explained how the coal and steel industry was the first step to achieving European integration. With that, the EU has transformed itself into an economic regional powerhouse.
Beyond its aspirations for economic dominance, the starting point for the EU was to find peace within the region that has been ravaged by war. The EU’s raison d'être was to build an organization of countries, so integrated, that armed conflict between nations would not only be impossible but also irrational due to the extensive economic disruption and burden it would incur. Mr. Enverga expressed how the idea of “never again” was what guided most of the decisions of these European countries after the events of World War II. The processes of “deepening” and “widening” have led the EU to become somewhat like a state, but not entirely.
He also quoted Mark Eyskens's famous saying, “Europe is an economic giant, a political dwarf, and a military worm” to express the “giant-ness” of the region is mostly attributed to its economic might. From the Product Designation Origin to stringent EU regulations, their market became attractive to foreign investors and traders, which has indirectly influenced product standards globally. To conclude the presentation, he discussed some of the region’s issues, which are the impacts of Brexit and the role of supranationalism on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
In the open forum, some of the questions were centered around the implications of Brexit, which could serve as a precedent for others to leave as well. Although the idea may be appealing, the economic benefits of remaining in the EU outweighs the disadvantages in one’s sovereignty. Despite this, EU Member States speak as one voice on some focus areas because it is best for the region. The following questions were related to the EU’s COVID-19 response and how some Europeans are disobeying the enforced “mask” rule. He answered by referencing a quote by a high-ranking EU official stating that “the fight for COVID-19 vaccination is not a fight amongst themselves but a fight against time”. Some of the EU Member States have already bought vaccines in surplus to be donated to their aid partners. On the issue of anti-vaxxers and resistance to lockdowns, this may be partly due to the complaints of extremely high fines for violating lockdown protocols. -- By Samantha Louise A. Diyco