October 24, 2012
« L’Europe est un État composé des plusieurs provinces »
“Europe is a State composed of several provinces”
(Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu)
In times like these, in which even the granting of an award to the EU is criticized by many people (why so late? Do our current leaders deserve this award? Is not it a devaluated award?), I think it is a good exercise to meditate a little on where we were, where we are and where we might be in other circumstances.
With this idea in my mind, today (October 23) I read in The Times:
The Foreign Secretary will travel to Berlin to say that public disillusionment with the EU in Britain “is the deepest it has ever been”. People regarded the EU as a one-way process, “a great machine that sucks up decision-making” from national parliaments to Brussels.
“That needs to change,” he will say. “If we cannot show that decision-making can flow back to national parliaments then the system will become democratically unsustainable.”
Democratically unsustainable. I find it curious, because the same democratic rules that we use to choose our national parliaments are the democratic rules that we use to choose the European Parliament. That is to say, universal and direct suffrage, in which the same people who can vote in national elections, can vote in European elections. Thus, firstly, EU Institutions in Brussels have the same “legitimacy” to exercise its powers as the national governments do in London, Paris or Berlin.
The real problem is to decide whether the politicians in Brussels represent us well enough or not, and that is probably what the UK Foreign Secretary is actually thinking. I put myself in his shoes and I understand his doubts. But let us consider briefly his proposal. What then would be the solution? To flow back the decision-making to national parliaments, of course, to increase democratic power. But by the same reasoning, why not giving the decision-making in main areas (health, education, economy, employment) to regions and provinces within countries? Undoubtedly, we should do it, to increase even more democratic power. And later, shouldn’t we give full powers to our local politicians, those closest to citizens, to maximize the power of democracy? Yes, we certainly should.
What is the end of the story? The end of the story is the beginning of the story. We Europeans have already been there, from medieval times to 19th century, and we know the experience was not good: a small town or village in which a mayor or similar, often with little training and knowledge (and very often badly influenced by a local cacique), had full power to do and undo at will. Well, in fact we have visited again that dark place in recent times, considering that the main cases of excessive public spending (and corruption) have appeared in the local government level.
This is not to say that several government areas should not be decentralized: this is to say that there are a lot of them in which we need international deals. I sincerely believe, when people blame EU of all our ills, we are losing the overall view, the view that allowed us to reach an unprecedented agreement to establish the basis of peaceful coexistence in the fifties and to continue growing and improving our quality of life for more than sixty years. Why not force our politicians and diverse parties to share ideas internationally and to agree to find the best solutions for all of us? Of course it is not easy to achieve, but it is much more reasonable than go back to past times and emptying EU Institutions of decision-making powers.
While I digest the previous news, I find another striking one, on the cover of The Times too, coincidentally very close to the other. We can read in the section “Remember them”:
Oldest surviving Battle of Britain pilot dies aged 99
The oldest surviving Battle of Britain pilot has died 72 years after he narrowly escaped death when his Spitfire was shot down over the English Channel…
By the way, can you imagine how was the news in Europe sixty years ago?
Do not imagine, please, come with me and take a look…
Top news in Europe in October 1942:
– Allied bomb several Greek ports.
– It begins German offensive against Stalingrad.
– RAF bomb Aachen.
– Germans bomb Malta.
– British bomb Cologne.
– Reprisals in the Netherlands for acts of resistance.
– British bomb Genoa, Turin and Milan.
– Germans bomb Canterbury.
They are quite different from some news I have read in the media these days.
EU summit: old friends agree truce to trigger banks bailout
Germany and France last night smoothed over a dispute…
The Times (UK)
Italian base in Antarctica restarts its activity
A group of Italian and French technicians will be transferred on November 6 at the base of the French-Italian Concordia Station.
Corriere della Sera (Italy)
Spain, France and Italy have agreed to exchange organs for donations chain
The creation of this “common area” in southern Europe will multiply the chances of finding a suitable donor…
So now we have Germany and France, two old friends. French-Italian concordia. A common area between several countries to help each other. It sounds pretty good. And honestly we can only blame one: the European Union. Probably it is not such a bad idea to award the Nobel Prize to the EU, for its achievements over all these years. And for what it is still achieving today.
I think British citizens should keep convinced of the advantages of our common project, as convinced as when they decided to join EU in 1973.
And shouldn’t be the mission of our politicians to remind people the progress made (e.g. “hey, now we do not need passports, visas and works permits to go abroad”), encouraging us to move forward together, instead of repeating and amplifying complaints (“oh, here the desillusionment is the deepest”)?
We need UK in the European Union and we need them in a leading role which they are not playing for now. Talking to people from different countries, we can check that we not only use English language as the main communication tool in the EU, but we also love British contribution to the European way of thinking, to our political and economic history, in addition to countless things: their culture, their cinema, their music. We definately need more UK.
What can I say to British citizens and all other European disillusioned who are reading me?
Maybe only two words: remember them.
Author : montesquieu