05 Dec 2022

Can we ever build a common European home?

The perils and promise of an old idea

Zachary Paikin / Michael Kimmage

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In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the idea of a ‘common European home’ inspired many different political leaders. This idea has now crumbled amid Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Historians will long debate what went wrong. For now, the West will have little choice but to inhabit a continental security context based on deterrence rather than romantic visions and shared identities. But Western governments should also not give up on the more flexible, accepting approach to European security and integration that animated the 1990s.

The EU granting candidate status to Ukraine last June was a landmark event. But the EU cannot have an effective strategy for Ukraine without also having a strategy for Russia. Even with the continent afflicted by war, the aspiration of a common European home must not be discarded.

This CEPS Explainer evaluates the principal lessons of the Ukraine War for European security and outlines a pathway to putting the continent back on the road towards a more inclusive order.

This CEPS Explainer is published as part of CEPS’ Euro-Atlantic Triangle project.

Michael Kimmage is Professor of History at the Catholic University of America and Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC.