September 11, 2010
After the state of the Union speech, some said that president Barroso doesn’t have visions covering the whole European Union. Well, I would say that he does have visions, but he has very limited freedom to act. To gain some more freedom, Mr Barroso has to be the initiator of a “European concept”, which is partially still missing.
The following thoughts do not intend to mean a desire for a centralized Europe. It’s only about being more effective.
Democracies in the member states are not exactly the same, but still, there’s been a few problems as results of differing democratic values. Most of the European conflicts were caused by the lack of the common conceptional framework. For example what is obvious in Spain (territorial autonomy), it’s out of question in Romania, although both countries claim to be committed to the human rights, and the freedom of national identities.
Why is that so? Because the Union is a confederation, with so many diverse cultural attitudes, habits, historical heritages. Agreements are made, but there’s a dissent in the interpretation of the articles. It goes without saying that unifying something, which is so heterogeneous is a real stiff task, and takes up a lot of time. Barroso’s “passport” to become one of the “founding fathers” of the 21st century Union is whether he’s able to manage and carry through such an issue.
Mr Olivier Chastel is right, when saying “what the citizens are expecting from our institutions are concrete achievements that will allow them to envisage the future more calmly”. But concrete achievments can be reached only on concrete basis. Coherence is the keyword. Otherwise no one will ever know what is a European competence and what is internal affair.
In other words, if eurocrats want the citizens support the Union, the EU has to give reasons, why the Union is essential to the European people. For example, because the EU is the one to safeguard minorities’ relations to their native countries, or because it watches if the severity of penalties are indeed proportionate to the criminal offence at national level. (Theoretically both should work somehow, but the practice is not quite like that.)
Hardly anybody will support the Union mumbling unaudible, incomprehensible messages. Which may even change case by case. Common interpretation is the base of effective politicy-making.
In the case of the minorities of Roma origin vs. France, we can hear the harsh criticism, but when the Slovakian language act was modified in 2009, just a few answered the call. Both are matters of human dignity, but the measures seem to be different – and no one knows why.
None of the leading eurocrats seem to be eager to display their visions. Maybe in their fear of the long and spirited debate. Who thinks that a troublesome discussion can be avoided during a “thorough study of the legal framework of the EU“? They go together, and that’s alright. We must go through it, as a necessary step towards a deepening integration.
It’s not a work of two days, so the citizens have to be patient. But why don’t the comissioners make some more effort to form more effective European institutions? There should be a constant, unambiguous intention to push forward the European integration, but nowadays no one can witness such. The condition of the EU of today is not yet the final destination, someone has to take the lead. For instance, Jacques Delors didn’t wait for the member states to act, he did himself.
Let’s cast the ballots?
Most of the young Europeans, although they agree with the “European idea”, simply don’t know the leaders. We’re proud of our democratic traditions, but we ignore that our democratic leaders (at European level) try to act with zero legitimacy.
If president Barroso wants to be the head of this process, he needs some more independence. I would think of negotiating the member states to switch to a direct election of the president of the Comission, and/or the parties. The more legitimacy the president has, the easier he acts independently. And of course the more independent he acts, the more responsibility he has.
Furthermore, Europe must find further own resources to finance it’s own budget. The Union’s got to be managed more on it’s own and less on the budget of the member states. Being financed by the member states tends to go along with being driven by the national capitals.
But there’s some “disturbance in the Force”. As written, the Union has to give reasons, why it needs more power. No doubt, this reason has to be proven under today’s circumstances. When some EU governments might try to make an inter-governmental interpretation of the Lisbon Treaty, because the Comission fail to come forward with a better, a more convincig interpretation.
Summing up, a new system of financial and political responsability should be set by the co-operation of both the European and national levels.
…and what about the member states?
Many people argue about the sovereignty, given up by the member states. Is that certainly the best way to approach the integration? Not sure. To a limited extent, sure, member states have given up some parts of their sovereignty, but what would Greece have been doing without the financial help of the other member states? (It’s offtopic, but I have to note that the conditions are very problematic, because way too much have to be taken from the Greek citizens. I’ll come back to that later, in a different post.)
A system has to be constructed, which grants the sovereignty of the member states to remain, although the European demands (= mutual, agreed interests and values) have to be made strict and enforcable. We’ve already seen such: the Treaty of Nice didn’t tend to require even more authority from national level to European level. That was about a more effective European governance, which is advantageous to the member states as well.
No more sovereignty should be taken, only the conditions of responsability should be changed. A strong Union doesn’t mean weak member states at all. In my view a strong Union means a deepening integration by joining forces, where separated countries are weak on their own.Author : David Korosi