Governments cannot reform the European Union. But citizens can.
Over the years, the role of the European Union has become warped and confusing. Today, its central institutions serve as mediators between hostile national governments. It is little more than a toy for prime ministers to throw around, misuse, blame and criticize.
And like most abused toys, the union’s political structure is broken and in need of repair.
Earlier in the year, former British Prime Minister David Cameron, swept around the continent, busily calling for a ‘reformed relationship’ and a ‘new British deal’. At last, a political leader, sitting in the Council of Ministers alongisde Alexis Tsipras, making the case for long-lasting structural reform to the system.
Not so fast.
Rather than seeking full-blown reform, Mr Cameron wanted ‘British concessions’. Ultimately, he didn’t have the nerve to call for a fundamental change to the system. The ‘deal’ he rustled up was meant to convince voters that reform was possible. Instead, it had the opposite effect. He missed his opportunity and it cost us the referendum.
Mr Cameron’s deal failed because he went about it the wrong way. Governments alone cannot plan reform, negotiate terms and deliver a successful resolution. Mass movements do this.
History is a series of collective actions, aimed at empowering the majority. The Great Reform Act of 1832 is a good example of this. Without intense lobbying, protests and a network of organised groups (in the form of the Birmingham Political Union etc…), the issue of parliamentary reform wouldn’t have been a priority.
Public assembly made it so.
Mr Cameron’s negotiating style was too clean, slick and robotic. Withought organised cross-party support, what was likely to have been a well intentioned deal, ended up looking like a political fix. The Prime Minister’s motives became questionable and the ‘remain’ vote unfairly toxic.
We cannot make the same mistake again. From now on, the pro-European campaign needs grassroots leadership. Upon the failure of the political system, why can’t citizens take control, enthuse voters, educate one another, share ideas, strengthen communities and stimulate the political imagination?
What’s the problem?
Until the union democratizes, national governments will (quite legitimately in some cases) continue to strip the EU of its powers until it is nothing more than a bare financial trading block. This is dangerous as a ‘bare trading block’ changes the whole nature of the union. Rather than serving citizens, by improving working conditions and protecting human rights, the EU would become subervient to the markets.
Primarily, the EU should serve as a union of people rather than governments. A united Europe is a social project, aiming to pool the ideas and skills of citizens of differing cultures, languages, families and backgrounds for the benefit of all.
To me, the most equiped and accessable movement to reform Europe is DiEM25.
As DiEM25’s founder and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis explains, the movement’s purpose is:
“One very simple, but radical idea: to democratize Europe.” – Yanis Varoufakis
Politics itself cannot create a functioning European community. Although politicians can help regulate and support a united Europe, we – the 508 million Europeans – share the responsibility of spreading ideas, exploring cultures and learning languages.
The future of the union cannot be decided by a group of thirty bureaucrats sitting around a conference table. History tells a different story. Change occurs when people group together and act.
This group is DiEM25.
I discovered DiEM25 two months after its Berlin launch in February. With over 23 000 members in 56 countries, DiEM25 can offer a third route. Please download and read the manifestos, outlining how we can achieve the largest democratic revolution in human history.
The race to 2025 has begun. Will you join in?
TO DOWNLOAD THE SHORT AND LONG ENGLISH VERSIONS OF DiEM25’s MANIFESTO, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINKS:
Short Manifesto (ENGLISH) (4 Pages)
Long Manifesto (ENGLISH) (9 Pages)
FIND DiEM25 ONLINE: