Next month, in his State of the Union speech to the European Parliament, President Juncker should make a bold proposal for a reformed EU. And also propose three to five main new policy proposals. These will help shape the agenda for – at least – Italian elections, facilitating a pro-EU win.
Pse play Alain Souchon’s song ”Vous êtes Lents” (1985, 3’15”) whilst reading this post, it sums well my current mood.
NB – This post is WORK IN PROGRESS (on content and form – hyperlinks*** are still missing) as debates go on to the end of a Federal Europe. We will debate in France, we shall debate on the seas and oceans, we shall debate with growing confidence and growing strength in the social media, we shall defend our Union, whatever the cost may be. We shall debate on the beaches (as I’m currently doing in citizens debates), we shall campaign on the landing grounds, we shall debate in the fields and in the streets, we shall debate in the hills (???); we shall never surrender…
A future for Europe?
Six month ago, after the shocking UK gamble on leaving Europe (well not physically, but in spirit) and the sad election of bad President Trump, many saw the end of the European Union (EU). But crisis are also opportunities and I was comforted learning that Commission President Juncker would launch a wide debate on #TheFutureOfEurope. Many, like me, expected a bold proposal for an EU spurt into the XXIst century: Brexit requires Treaty changes – forcing and spurring changes in EU law and structure. This was the first real opportunity for the Commission to retake the initiative granted by the EU Treaties. Like for Delors in the ‘90s and Prodi in the ‘00s, it was a once in a decade moment.
The fact that Juncker kept its foreseen schedule filled me with hope. He resisted to pressures from EU leaders for postponing it until after the Dutch elections, scheduled for 2 weeks later as the Commission proposals could have fuelled euro-hater Geert Wilders who had managed to put euro-scepticism on the agenda,. I was disappointed. The five scenarios (not even vi-sions) of the EU, ranging from “Carrying On” to “Doing Much More Together” were technocratic exercise with little soul and substance – when compared to Delors “White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment” and Prodi’s “White Paper on European Governance” (***) attempts.
The debate on the #FutureOfEurope has been fostering Memes (***), Tweets (***), Videos (***); debates involved millions of European Citizens (***), but it seems only the Brexit com-ing ‘battle’ interests the media which do not really discuss the Commission options, just as if, after Brexit, the EU could muddle through as in the past. With at least 10% less budget, 20% less medical research excellence, much of its main banking powerhouses moving around and only 1 seat left in the UN Security Council – this would really be a ‘Dream on’ scenario, not a “Carry on”.
A Concentric Circles Europe – Now or much later
Despite or because of the above crisis, Europe is, rather independently from EU institutions, definitely moving on. It is a long time since so many stakeholders and citizens expressed support for a European Union and joint policies [Eurobarometer Spring 2017, press re-lease here http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEX-17-2261_en.htm]. Citizens demand EU to manage immigration, to ensure security in and at the borders of the Union and to foster jobs and economic growth. Specific EU policies such as Climate, Education and Research Programmes come only later, whilst its two main policies: the Common Agricultural Policies and Regional Cohesion are less mentioned – maybe because they are given for granted.
After almost 10 years of economic boosts and “quantitative easing”, the European economy is picking up speed and most EU countries perform now better than before the crisis [Guardian or Euractiv News ***]. Major past EU reforms always followed crisis and economic rebounds.
Also, key stakeholders are advocating a federal Europe to manage the Euro (https://www.euractiv.com/section/economy-jobs/news/madrid-will-push-for-a-eurozone-budget-and-eurobonds/ ), a Common European border control [***] or even a European Army [***]. The election of President Macron on a pro-EU programme reversed the Eurosceptic agenda that was conquering Europe. Some parties will eventually take this up in the coming German and Italian elections.
This is why President Juncker should take advantage of the State of the Europe (#SOTEU) speech, on 13 September at the European Parliament, to propose major structure and policy changes for the European Union:
1. The constitution of a Eurozone Federation, gathering possibly all Euro countries (in Blue in the picture above) initially run by current Institutions with minor adaptations, such as European Ministers (doubling as a Commissioners) to manage the Euro, Climate and Common Borders.
2. The Federation would be defined by a streamlined Lisbon Treaty, renamed Constitution, it would spell out more clearly the principles, objectives and rules of the Eurozone and feature only additions linked to Brexit and the three policies mentioned above. All current Eurozone countries would have to adhere to the Constitution, or leave the Euro, but not necessarily the European Union.
3. The Eurozone would be managed by a smaller Commission (as it is foreseen in the original Lisbon Treaty – before its recasting due to the 2008 Irish Referendum). The Parliament would also be modified, with the 73 British MEPs replaced by real European deputies, elected in a pan-European electoral college, as advocated by the UEF (Union of European Federalists) in our “1 Head, 2 Votes” proposal [***].
4. Non Eurozone EU countries (in Green in the picture above), would see no change, they will still be part of an EU governed by the Lisbon Treaty. Except possibly for what concerns today’s main concern of European citizens. President Juncker could repeat his pledge that EU countries manage jointly immigration in the Eurozone. This will have to also involve the larger EU and at least all Schengen countries.
5. Finally UK will be offered to join – after Brexit – a New Common Market under the ‘old’ Treaty of Rome, the one it joined by referendum in the ‘70s. They could be joined by European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland***), several Balkan and European neighbourhood countries (when ready and willing) such as Ukraine and, if it wants and it still abides to the Copenhagen criteria (***), Turkey.
New policies with Collateral benefits
Coming 2 weeks before the German elections and 6 months before the Italian ones, the #SOTEU proposal will set an agenda for a debate on the #FutureOfEurope, giving in particular to Italy a proposal around which a pro-EU horizontal coalition, gathering politicians from centre-left to centre-right could assemble. This might, just might, help them win challenges from Euro-sceptic right and five starred pirates. Its Federal nature would allow European Federations such as UEF [***], JEF[***], European Movement[***], Stand-Up for Europe[***], Pulse of Europe[***]… to weigh into these campaigns, supporting parties that would take-up the Commission proposal.
Finally, the #SOTEU should feature three to five proposals allowing to ‘Federate EU federalists’. From debates had in the past 6 months, since I joined them, I would propose:
1. To set-up a European Electoral College for electing 73 ‘real’ European delegates already in 2019 European elections (See my blog #1Head2Votes);
2. European Rational Taxes to replace national levies. The Monti report on own resources [***] advocates them to finance the EU policies, thus getting rid of the ‘national contribution’ and ‘juste retour’ debates. I advocated in my blog the #EUPayBack [***] levy for large corporations. The Monti report features charging a ‘Carbon tax’ and a tax on short term financial transactions. I would add the collection of eco-social duties from countries/companies not respecting the COP21 Paris agreement [***] and conventions of the International Labour Organisation [ILO ***] as well as a levy on Intellectual Property for financing EU Research and Innovation.
3. One proposal should address a programme or action (possibly) benefiting all European citizens. The best we’ve got is still developing from the one discussed at Stand-Up’s Federalist debate. It is inspired by the Erasmus programme and the recent proposal by the EP to give all 18 years old an InterRail pass. #BecomingEU would allow all Europeans becoming 18 to submit a project to be undertaken in another(s) EU country. This should be named after a famous European selected on line – Jean Monnet or Leonardo would be my pick. The EU would grant 1000 € for the youth to fulfil her project as long as it is not only travel. It could be language classes, professional training, internships, exploring the potential of artistic work abroad… This would allow them to learn a language, test a job, a product or a cultural project. Contrary to Erasmus, this would address all Europeans, not only 10% of students.
4. My fourth and more complex proposal addresses the estimated 100 million Europeans who feel Globalisation (and the EU) is robbing them and their families of their jobs and future work opportunities. The left overs and the less skilled who fear being replaced by a ‘foreigner’ or a robot. The #VitruvianEconomy would develop and facilitate a transition to solvable and sustainable Human Centred Services (#ByHumans4All) for all European to prosper in an open EU. Agroforestry, Sea farming, Healthcare, Education, Justice, Labour services/professional training, Innovation consulting, Personal care are all labour intensive and human rich services which are needed, but not currently solvable in many cases. I am developing work undertaken by V. Mazzuccato and C. Perez (***) – soon available on this blog for comments and critics. Follow #VitruvianEconomy and #ByHumans4All.
The fifth proposal is for you, my Blog readers, Linked-In contacts and Facebook friends to put forward. Nicole De Windt (who is all three of the above) came first. She proposed to complement #ByHumans4All with Mohammed Yunus proposal for “human entrepreneurship” [https://www.london.edu/news-and-events/news/humans-are-entrepreneurs-the-system-is-vastly-flawed-1098#.WZVmMdGrfIW].
Feel free to comment/critic and thanks in advance to all – including for scathing critics. I appreciate those as they either teach me something new, or strengthen my views.