Europäische Union, Evropská unie, União Europeia (Chapter One)

 The democratic, federal, inclusive and socially-progressive union of the future.

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The European Union consists of 508 million citizens in 28 countries of 24 languages. Europe is by far the strongest economy in the world with a collective productivity of $18.339 TRILLION. This European Union of, 2016 is progressive, powerful and inventive.

But that’s not the whole story. The EU is a target for financial corruption, the effects of climate change and terrorism. Unfortunately, internal bureaucracy prevents the creation of a reformed model – a model which is designed to tackle problems which ten years ago, did not exist. But before we can discuss how Europe can change, we must ask ourselves:

What is Europe’s objective and why are we there?

For some, the aim is to create an informal trading block whilst others are in favour of total social, political and economic integration between nation states.

I am a European not for Britain. I have never suffered with or been interested in cheap jingoism that so easily stimulates the passion of the Eurosceptic right.

For me, it’s responsible and makes practical sense for Britain to play an active part in the life of the European family.

But regardless of your position, it seems evident the EU needs to become more federal with power flowing freely from the European Parliament and down through national assemblies, regional councils and devolved local government.

The common Eurosceptic argument is that by working with the EU, Britain is ‘handing over its sovereignty to Brussels’. Firstly, sovereignty is not a quantitative measurement. Secondly, we are not ‘handing’ it over. That would suggest there are absolutely no benefits to this seemingly pointless exercise. Instead, we need to change the language used around the ‘European question’. This could be Britain’s first major reform.

In working with other countries, Britain is cooperating with foreign police forces to track down suspected criminals on the run. This ‘handing over’ is keeping us safe. By working with our European partners to tackle climate change, we are protecting our common environment. This again, keeps us safe. Europe’s threats do not function within the narrow prism of nationalism, so why should we? Air pollution, financial corruption and disease ignore borders. In this case, governments must do the same on the subject of European integration.

Community. A word lost in recent discussions within political, press and public circles. This is exactly why the EU was formed. After a second international conflict in twenty nine years that left hundreds of millions for dead, ministers began discussions to form what was at the time – near impossible.

A PEACEFUL AND COOPERATIVE EUROPE.

By the time the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, ministers had realised that post-war Europe should accommodate space for its governments to talk. After all, the result of half a century of little negotiation resulted in two conflicts on an unimaginable scale.

For me, the EU should fulfil the following:

  • Improve the social, cultural and economic quality of life for all citizens
  • Invest in the education and understanding of Europe’s many cultures
  • Protect the rights of workers around the continent
  • Reduce public and private corruption
  • Enforce democratic principles within its borders
  • Keep Europeans safe from internal and external threats of all forms

Problems with a ‘two-speed’ Europe

Imagine – member states agree to form a ‘two-speed’ Europe. Immediately, our ‘Eurocrats’ would turn to the French President and German Chancellor to lead this new block. Businesses would be forced to shift jobs and investment to these areas, ever worsening the north/south divide which is already all too evident. The result? The EU would instantly turn from a community into a club. Who would permit the transition of an EU state from one grouping to another? Would this give the northern countries even more influence over their southern ‘partners’? Would the European Parliament undergo the same ‘botch’ we here in Britain suffered under David Cameron’s introduction of ‘English-votes-for-English-laws’? How would this strengthen ties within a community already beginning to fray around the edges?

Effects of the existing system: 

NATIONAL LEADERS STEAL VICTORIES:
If the European Central Bank (ECB) or European Commission grant additional loans, lower Eurozone interest rates or direct European Commission money to one particular region, national leaders will go home and claim these achievements as entirely their own.

NATIONAL LEADERS ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO UNFOUNDED PATRIOTIC ATTACKS
Because national leaders are only responsible for their home countries, our European Council consists of twenty eight politicians having to fight solely in the ‘interests’ of the country they represent. Suddenly, the concept of shared duty and companionship are forgotten.

It is also unfortunate that such language is so often used by our Prime Minister…..

When travelling to Brussels, David Cameron is ‘forced to make demands‘. Here, he reports of how he ‘told‘ other EU officials what ‘he wanted‘. Already, these talks sound too much like a messy divorce case whereby both sides are operating under the assumption that the-winner-takes-all. This is infact inaccurate, unhelpful and counterproductive.

Here’s another example…

So what’s the plan?

For Britain: Firstly, Britain should call for an overhaul of Europe’s bureaucratic workings. But in order to do this, we must finally organise our own (lack of) democracy. One start would be a written constitution. It’s all very well for the Prime Minister to talk about repatriation of powers. But who are these powers actually going to? With no single constitutional document, we have absolutely no clue.

For Europe: Clearly, no country can be ‘kicked out’ of the Eurogroup. Why?  The Euro was established at the turn of the millennium as a symbolic achievement to decades of division. It cannot collapse after just sixteen years of life. Brussels would more likely favour debt cancellation or even wealth redistribution across the Eurozone area as an alternative to currency exclusion.

With little sign of Alexis Tsipras’ SYRIZA government facing defeat and s stalemate of talks to form a coalition government in debt ridden Spain, something has to give.  To some, the answer is ‘Brexit’. For others, taking back sacks of power is the better way forward. Either way, Europe will look very different by the New Year.

The question is whether we will be peering in or looking out.

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