EU Members must face their responsibilities !
Emmanuel Macron has been elected President of France, accomplishing an extraordinary feat, the least of which is certainly not to have run on a radically pro-European platform. In the weeks and months ahead, implementing his audacious program will leave him with his hands full. The success of its European agenda is – quite rightly – subordinated to redressing the country, thereby creating the necessary conditions for France to play, once again, a key role in the European project.
If the result of the election will have come as an enormous relief to all europhiles, they cannot, however, wait to see what happens next; rather, they should take their own responsibilities immediately, because the necessary reform of the Union must be a collective endeavor or fail.
The success of “En Marche” demonstrates that a citizen’s movement, created only just over a year ago, can win in the face of traditional political parties, lolling in the comfort of self-indulging privileges, leading finally to their sclerosis and discredit. This appraisal applies both to “national” political parties and European Parliamentary groups that the former dominate.
With the European elections of 2019 in view, there is still time to create, in each of the Member States, branches of a new pan European party which could develop a common platform based on the outline elaborated by En Marche. This would underpin a coherent vision of the Union which would not be subordinated, as presently, to the primacy of national interests. This model could spur existing parties to reconstruct themselves, along lines that we can observe are emerging in France.
With the benefit of new pan European majorities, the European Parliament could engineer institutional reforms – in the first place its own internal operating procedures – rather than waiting for an illusory consensus among the 27 Heads of State and Government in the European Council (the epitome of intergovernmental debate) to impose an nth. flawed compromise.
Thus it should aim for a single ballot system throughout the Union for the European parliamentary elections; the selection of candidates should be made centrally (on proposals made by local branches). In due course, and subject to appropriate treaty changes, electoral districts should be roughly proportional to the population while the representation of individual States would be equal in a Council/Senate inspired by the American model. Such an organization blends particularly well with the concept of “intelligent” subsidiarity in which the competences of the different levels of power are clearly established. Indeed, in the USA, only Federal Constitutional Amendments are subject to ratification by the individual federated States, avoiding the blockages from which the EU suffers incessantly.
Capitalizing on the enthusiasm created by the new French President for the European project, the citizen’s movement “Stand Up for Europe” should endeavor to mobilize all federalists throughout the Union to back such a new initiative. The reawakening of interest for the European Union is an opportunity that needs to be exploited urgently without waiting for its results in France but rather by building on the momentum it has created.
Paul N. Goldschmidt
Director, European Commission (ret.); Member of the Advisory Board of the Thomas More Institute, Member of the Advisory Board of Stand Up for Europe