26 March, 2007
Those who dreamt of European integration saw Europe’s economic and monetary union as an intermediary stage in their course towards a political union. Developments were slow – or, according to Eurosceptics, difficult sometimes. The European continent, however, achieved peace – wars were replaced, first of all, by dialogue and financial competition; secondly, by stability; thirdly, by democracy; and, fourthly, by development.
Europe’s new leaderships tried to answer the question “What kind of Europe do we want?” by organizing the Convention for the Future of Europe, which drafted the proposal for a Constitutional Treaty. Unfortunately, its rejection by the French and Netherlands referenda was a stumbling block in the deepening process, which was meant to be parallel to that of the enlargement.
As a result, today’s Europe of 27 member states is faced with serious functional problems, as it is based on the institutional framework that was built for a Union of 15 member states. The German Presidency’s effort to put an end to the reflection period and take new initiatives for a new functional Constitutional Treaty that will be accepted are seen as totally positive.
Europe needs to transform itself as soon as possible if its wants to become a smoothly-functioning union that meets its peoples’ expectations and plays a leading role in the international scene as a quiet power, thus responding to the vision of its founding fathers. In order to achieve the objective of a political union, we must complement and strengthen European institutions by placing more trust in European citizens. One of the basic reasons underlying the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty was the people’s reaction to a “Europe of cold technocrats”. The European peoples want co-responsibility, because this is the only way to ensure a social and democratic European Union.
The people want to participate more in decision-making, they want more policy and better politicians, with the society itself and the people’s sensitivities as their point of reference. They do not trust Brussels technocrats to take up leading roles, because they make their calculations, programmes and decisions based on statistics, without leaving their offices to come into contact with social reality.
In view of a new reform, it is important to have strong European institutions with democratic legitimacy, directly elected by the people and accountable to them.