Opinion: EU against Nations

A dogmatic false fight

The fear of losing national identity and culture is one of the biggest hurdle against a better and more federal governance at European level.

(Discussion with Damian Boeselager, Deputy in the European Parliament for the paneuropean party Volt Europa - by Christophe Carreau, crosspost from europe-unie.org).

A federal Europe

"We should create the conditions for a functioning European parliamentary democracy"

Building a federal Europe doesn’t mean the end and negation of the nations as they stand today. « EU goes beyond the nations » means the nations are the foundations. In a federation of states, each of them shall keep its identity and culture, its best practices at the regional scale that is relevant to the regions. Citizens shall be reassured that the building of a more federal European Union shall not annihilate their identity, to the contrary.

Originally, the « raison d’être » of the European Coal and Steel Community was to make war practically impossible between the European powers so that it could never happen again. It was not to overcome the nations, but to bundle steel and coal and link together. Nations versus Europe was not the right question. As some states decided to make some decisions and cooperations together, the question was, and still is today, to decide the best way to do it. Obviously, the best way is the democratic one, precisely the way the member states are dealing with their own politics internally via their own parliament, against which the government is accountable. Further more, making it transparent to the citizens, as it should be, shall not imply to turn against their nations. When it comes to taking decisions together, we should take them in the most democratic way.

It is never easy to find common grounds when the interests can be very different. Conflicts of interest are to be expected and are normal. They should be dealt within a parliament which then mandates the government to implement what has been agreed.

The issue is not the EU. The issue is an overhang of national interests above the European Parlement. As it is today, the nationalistic perspective stand too much over the European Parlement. This could be improved with good democratic parliamentary practices.

Arguing that « EU is too big » and that « Bruxelles is inefficient » is not fair. The EU administration is relatively small. The problem lies in how the EU takes decisions, not in its bureaucracy. Today, the Commission issues proposals to the Parliament which votes at the majority. The Council, being the second legislative body made of the national ministers, is instead voting at the unanimity. Moreover its debates are completely opaque. There is too much veto power given to the weakest and the most obstructive member states. When « Bruxelles cannot decide », it is because the national governments are blocking. There is too much power to the nations, which do not eventually represent the people. We should listen to citizens in a more democratic Europe with decisions being taken at the majority.

Functioning gouvernance at all levels

That being said, improving democratic practices doesn’t mean to deny the nations, as it is often argued in the media by national politicians. The Eu against the nations is a false fight and one shall not be dogmatic about it. What is important is a functioning gouvernance, at the EU level, at the national level and at the regional level. What works well for a region is perfectly fine. We need the national governments to handle their culture and historical background. Regions and cultures in Europe are broadly different and, at the same time, completely tied up together by a common history and economy. Europe shall not argue about the divides that are existing on the continent, I.e. North / South, landscape / cities, young / old people, East / West.. If a political response works well for given regions, one shall keep it and learn from the best practices.

Fighting against each other doesn’t help. The national interests blinds us too much and create these false fights between the states. This is not helpful to find the good governance policies and solutions.