Faced with this new reality where cultures clash, it’s inevitable that some will seek a comfort in nationalism or tribe or ethnicity or sect. In countries that are held together by borders that were drawn by colonial powers, including many countries in the Middle East and in Africa, it can be tempting to fall back on perceived safety of enclaves and tribal divisions.
In a world of widening inequality, there’s a growing suspicion — or even disdain — for elites and institutions that seem remote from the daily lives of ordinary people. What an irony it is, at a time when we can reach out to people in the most remote corners of the planet, so many citizens feel disconnected from their own governments.
So, just as we have to have an inclusive economic strategy, we have to have an exclusive political and cultural strategy. In all of our capitals, we have to keep making government more efficient, more effective in responding to the daily needs to citizens. Governing institutions, whether in Athens, Brussels, London, Washington, have to be responsive to the concerns of citizens. People have to know that they’re being heard.
Here in Europe, even with today’s challenges, I believe that by virtue of the progress it has delivered over the decades — the stability it has provided, the security it’s reinforced
— that European integration and the European Union remains one of the great political and economic achievements of human history. (Applause.) And today more than ever, the world needs a Europe that is strong and prosperous and democratic.
But I think all institutions in Europe have to ask themselves: How can we make sure that people within individual countries feel as if their voices are still being heard, that their identities are being affirmed, that the decisions that are being made that will have a critical impact on their lives are not so remote that they have no ability to impact them?