By Stefano Mallia, EESC Employers’ group president

“We are asleep until we fall in love!” Leo Tolstoy writes brilliantly in his eternal masterpiece War and Peace.

Vladimir Putin should have read through the lines of his compatriot’s work to understand that Europe might have been asleep when Russia annexed Crimea, but that a united continent which has suffered two world wars on its soil, could not stay asleep forever.

And so, it happened: Europe fell in love with Ukraine and woke up. What we have seen on display in recent days is a continent falling in love with a country, which fights against aggression, for its self-determination, for its freedom, for its democratic values.

Immediately after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU pushed measures that were unimaginable just a few months ago. The war in Ukraine is bringing out the humanity of the EU and its citizens, who are putting freedom and peace before interest and trade.

At the speed of light, the EU has adopted the largest sanctions package in the Union’s history, hitting Russia’s financial system, its high-tech industries and its corrupt elite. These sanctions will take a heavy toll on the Russian economy and on the Kremlin. They will also come at a cost for the European economy.

The awakening of Europe is visible across the policy spectrum. If Europe wants to continue to live in peace, it must finally build a strong foreign policy and common defence policy. The taboo has vanished after seeing war again on our continent.

The EU needed to rediscover its desire for peace to keep building its vision. Putin, rather than dividing Europe, has united us all towards that mission.

Read the full article: (dv/kr)