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The EU in crisis – a union without leadership

Europa United contributor, Michael Holz is questioning the methods being used by the EU when meeting to resolve issues such as the migration crisis. Is the EU lacking clarity, because it is still in limbo in being neither an economic bloc nor a state?

Taking a close look at international media regarding topics revolving around Europe and the European Union, currently, there is only a single, dominating question – How should the EU solve its migration crisis?

A recent summit of the European Council concluded to – well, to do what? I know, there have been several proposals now that (at least most) of the summit’s participants can agree on. The ideas in the room are emigration platforms in Northern Africa to which African countries will somehow agree on. The details still remain unclear, however. And then there are immigration centres in Europe that coordinate the handling and distribution of refugees. The corny joke: Everything is basically voluntary, both setting up these centres as well as taking a share of the refugees. Can one actually look in the mirror as a European head of state or government and simultaneously sell something like this as a success of a summit meeting? If yes, how low have our political standards fallen?

There is no European leadership – only conflict of national interest

EU summits in the European Council very often follow a specific scheme – the heads of state and governments of the European nations meet. Then, they have talks until early in the morning where everybody gets so angry and tired that one just wishes to agree to a minimal patchwork compromise – ultimately more damaging than helpful. Who could really be surprised about that? I am not sure myself if I would be able to find any good and sustainable solutions to extremely complex problems if all I could think of is going to my hotel room because I am so tired of the constant clashes of national particular interests. Is what I am writing here about the nature of the Council summits really true? I don’t know. Maybe we would know if the summits were accessible by the public media,  which is another important issue, but I simply cannot imagine that good solutions can be found in such an environment.

summit

One of many special European Council meetings

Given the complexity, importance and urgency of finding solutions, occasional summits – which very often do not result in clear measures and obligations – are inherently insufficient.  The continent cannot be governed by declarations of intent. The European Union cannot solve these sort of problems with people that do not have the capacity to solve it. Why don’t they have this capacity? Because as heads of states and governments they have to run their own country as well. The leaders of the European nations have neither the time nor the will to do this and are hostages to their own domestic voter base. The only solution is therefore a true European, democratic governance that is responsible to all European citizens only.

The EU cannot deliver yet – the nation states cannot deliver anymore

It is apparent that in a lot of supranational questions, the EU today finds itself in political limbo and suffering from an identity crisis, not only in the matter of migration. Our continent will and already has run into a multitude of supranational problems ranging from climate change, defence and security to cross-border crime and tax evasion. Personally, I am very happy that trade is an exclusive EU competence right now. I do not want to imagine how the current trade war would have progressed if we as Europeans would not have the weight of the entire Union behind us. And we see that from that weight we gain security, so what is stopping us to reinforce ourselves in other political fields?

Ironically, it is the national leaders that stop the EU from being capable of delivering solutions. In their countless and tiresome Council summits, they are unable to agree on measures that must be taken, thereby paralysing the success of the entire Union and jeopardising the safety, wealth and freedoms of all European citizens. What we see here live and in colour is the failure of the European nation states, the old Europe, to tackle modern, supranational problems. If we as a Union do not take a big step forward right now and finish the political integration in all relevant political fields, the European nations will effectively destroy the European project and render themselves obsolete as well in the process. The only sustainable solution is a democratic and federal European Union with a fully-fledged parliament that is defending our common interests. The European nation states love to refer to the principle of subsidiarity, the concept to tackle political problems on the right political level, when it serves them to retain political competences and power. Yet they fail to see that subsidiarity goes both ways. And the nation states have proven on multiple occasions that the national level is not the correct  level to tackle problems that are of common, European interest. How much more catastrophes must happen before the national politicians and all European people realise that?

Therefore, to all heads of states and governments, the European people and the media – stop referring to the European Council as the European leaders. We do not have European leaders, because that would require a true European democracy and a joint sovereignty of all European citizens.

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Categories: Authors, Michael Holz

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