30th Sep 2020

14 ways to turn European visions upside down

The European integration process launched in the 50s has been a success, but its methods are today obsolete and outdated by their own success. This far-reaching conclusion is reached by the pro-European Paris based think tank Europe2020 and is presented today as "The first European political project developed by the generations born after the Treaty of Rome."

"Politically there is one institution too many, and there is no doubt that it is the Commission," the study says and proposes the college of Commissioners to be eliminated.

14 ways to turn European visions upside down

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The project of the think-tank Europe 2020, in co-operation with the Newropeans network presents 14 concrete ways to throw the traditional European visions upside down: The old system can no longer handle the consequences of what it has brought to life, nor does it correspond to the world as it looks today and tomorrow, the study says. This obsolescence has been confirmed over a number of years with "multiple crises of the EU leading to a paralysis in EU decision-making on major subjects, a confusion of responsibilities, creating doubts and worries among citizens", the paper says.

The authors of the document "Vision Europe 2020 - Reinventing Europe 2005-2020" are convinced there are now only two possible choices for Europe: The one they present or an anti-democratic and xenophobic national-Europeanism leading to a certain “death of European integration as a historic project.”

From building to government

The Newropeans propose to turn from the building phase of the EU to a new age of democratic controlled government. "The administrations, the real "builders" of Europe in the last five decades, must now hand over the relay baton to the tandem of politicians and citizens," they say: "Europe no longer needs to be built, but rather to be governed effectively and democratically."

Relocation of EU institutions

The 14 points include a proposal to relocate European institutions, and break out of the Brussels - Luxembourg - Strasbourg historical axis: "The central institutions should be divided between London, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels and The Hague (EuroRing 1) and the other community institutions between the other European capitals: Dublin, Madrid, Rome, Vienna, Budapest, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Athens, Lisbon, Stockholm, … (EuroRing 2)."

The Commission more or less superfluous

In line with a recent proposal, which has been supported by the larger EU governments except Germany, the study calls for a President of the European Government to be elected by heads of State or of Government. However, this president must be elected among the the heads of state in office at the national level and would thus have to offer this position in return for becoming the European President. A Minister of Common External Relations should be picked by the President from among the current Ministers of Foreign Affairs in office on the national level.

The study proposes to keep the system of 6 monthly rotating presidencies but only to assist the President. The Commission would be more or less superfluous as the European Parliament should have a complete right of legislative initiative, shared with the European Government and a new body should be created to take care of the administration.

The Newropeans demand the knowledge of at least one foreign language in order to be accepted as a candidate in European Parliamentarian elections, however the student based organisation does not indicate if they would like to introduce some sort of examination to test the skills of candidates.

Recommends 2-3 years delay of enlargement

The study calls for re-dynamising of the Council of Europe, which is not a EU institution but has most European countries as members. The Council of Europe should be the key actor of the “European Neighbourhood” and run relations with its neighbours "made up of very disparate types of countries: from Russia to Morocco." On enlargement the study recommends 2-3 years delay to permit the EU to make it self structurally and politically ready to receive new members and calls for the Copenhagen Summit to establish a real political calendar for enlargement, committing the heads of State and Governments of the EU, as well as the candidate countries before their public opinions.

European Democracy Marathon

The organisation Europe 2020 is based in Paris with Franck Biancheri, Director of Research and Strategy in the leading role as co-ordinator of the work. The group claims to represent the generations of younger Europeans less than 40 years old and managed to involve 82,000 students in the EU Student Vote initiative last month. A "European Democracy Marathon" is planned to start in September in Amsterdam to initiate discussions in 100 cities on the basis of the Vision Europe 2020 proposals. In July 2003, a new version including the commentaries of European citizens received during the debates as well as from the Internet will be published and widely distributed.


EU citizens must be active political participants

In general there is no reason to be against a European Union Constitution or European Union Government, if the citizens have been really involved in the process and really want it politically. Here I want to stress: If the INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS want it. I do not talk about a hand-full of NGO representatives or lobbyists. Furthermore, I do not think that an accelerated European integration makes sense, unless the democratic situation in the individual member states really improves - including the direct participation of the citizens. This is what must be intensively discussed over the next ten years writes Thomas Rupp from the German movement Mehr Demokratie in a commentary inspired by the Vision Europe 2020, Reinventing Europe 2005-2020 paper, launched last Monday.

THOMAS RUPP - is the editor of Zeitschrift für Direkte Demokratie in Germany and is actively involved in the Network for Direct Democracy in Europe


The cart before the horse

To build from the top down, that is to say, to begin with an intellectual elite who dictates norms and ideologies to ordinary people, is to be doomed to failure at the outset. History clearly teaches that much, Emanuel L. Paparella writes in a commentary inspired by the Vision Europe 2020, Reinventing Europe 2005-2020 paper, launched earlier this month.

EMANUEL L. PAPARELLA - holds a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism from Yale University with a dissertation on the philosophy of history of Giambattista Vico. He is currently semi-retired and on the faculty of Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida and continues to write and lecture widely.


Vision Europe 2020 - the same old EU- elitism?

The Paris-based think tank "Europe 2020" has presented a vision for the future European cooperation, which accordning to themselves "throws the traditional European visions up-side down". The think tank is very critical of how the EU works today. The working methods are described as "obsolete" and "outdated", they "can no longer handle the consequences of what they brought to life, nor do they correspond to world as it looks today and tomorrow". The wording promises, in my view, radical changes for strengthened democracy, more openness and real decentralization of power from EU-level to Member States. But, after reading their proposals in "Vision Europe 2020 - Reinventing Europe 2005-2020" I am quite disappointed. No real changes of the current EU are really proposed, writes Henrik Dahlsson from Sweden.

HENRIK DAHLSSON - is the Secretary General of TEAM (The European Alliance of EU-critical Movements)

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