In the aftermath of World War II, much of Europe had been left devastated. Tens of millions, mostly civilians, were killed. 70% of the industrial infrastructure of the continent was destroyed. Europe lay in tatters, and thus it was deemed imperative to foster cordial international relations to prevent such a catastrophe occurring again. It is against this backdrop that we find the roots of the formation of the European Union. The EU official website explains:
“The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries that trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict.”
The European Coal and Steel Community thus formed, which was joined by France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Gradually the union evolved and further collaboration materialised. In 1967 the European Communities (EC) was formed, which was a merger of three previous communities, consisting of various countries within Europe. Over the following decades other European countries joined the EC, including the UK, Denmark, Sweden and others. In 1991, the signing at Maastricht of the Treaty of the European Union led to the formal establishment of the European Union. This Treaty extended the Union’s collaboration into spheres such as asylum, immigration and other key issues. It was a precursor to EU citizenship, which allowed people from member countries to travel freely between member-nations. In 1999, another milestone in the history of the EU was achieved with the formation of the Euro, a single currency for most of Europe.
Although difficulties have been faced by the European Union at different points in history, fast-forward to 2013 and we find the European Union placed in greater political and economic turmoil than ever before. The global financial downturn has caused the Euro currency to fall into disarray. Critics of free movement between member states are finding their voice, which has led to deep-seated social unrest and political controversy in some countries.
It is set against this backdrop that a historic event occurred at the European Parliament in Brussels. The worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, Khalifatul Masih V, Fifth Successor to the Promised Messiah, delivered a momentous address to leading MEPs, Parliamentarians, dignitaries and journalists. As some guests would later acknowledge, His Holiness touched on issues in his speech that most leaders normally avoid addressing so forthrightly, such as immigration. Our feature articles in this edition revolve around the vital words of advice imparted by His Holiness. As this address was delivered at EU Parliament, the message of His Holiness was in essence a message to all of Europe. The guidance from His Holiness relates to solutions to issues that Europe and the entire world stand in dire need of in order to prevent a global catastrophe such as a World War from ever occurring again.