Recently the New York Times published an interesting editorial, which touched upon the ‘Future of Europe’ – one of the priority topics for debate in the coming years. Even though the article was prompted by the Cypriot bailout, the author takes a step back and puts the current situation in a wider picture.
Current problems can be tracked back to the 1950s and ‘60s when the EU was established as a ‘loose union of sovereign states’. That hasn’t been a problem until now - the EU enlargement cycles and the introduction of the Euro weaken the loose and decentralised structure that the EU is built on:
‘Instead of preserving sovereignty and nurturing democracy, it has created a situation where paymaster nations like Germany seek to impose the policy preferences of German voters on other states without regard to economic circumstances. ... A better governed EU would put more emphasis on reviving growth in the south and stimulating consumer demand in the north.’
Moreover, the article emphasises that ‘there is not much European vision among today’s top national leaders. No Helmut Kohl or François Mitterrand sits among them to bring fellow leaders to their senses before local political motives lead them into continent wide blunders. ... There are plenty of smart politicians attending EU summit meetings and plenty of capable European commissioners keeping the Brussels bureaucracy whirring. But there [is nobody] pushing for the interests of Europe as a whole, not just the interests of Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands or Cyprus — even as ambitious projects like the euro have increased the need for coherent and consistent rules and policies.’
Although the article is clearly written from a US point of view, the article touches upon one of the core issues for the years to come: the EU needs a clear vision, as well as pragmatic changes to its structure while at the same time preserving the sovereignty of its Member States.
Dan LUCA & Nienke van Leeuwaarden / Brussels