A "SOLID CORE" TO BUILD A POLITICAL EUROPEAN UNION
Thanks to the summit of Nice, the Union began its enlargement in 2003 towards countries that satisfied the adhesion requirements. With the negotiations concerning the adhesion of Turkey and of several Balkan countries, the EU opened the doors to many other States.
But we must question ourselves about the limits of the EU and launch a debate with our neighbors on our eastern borders.
We have already established agreements for partnership, cooperation, and association leading to membership.
If we do not consider the development of a solid core, as an “avant-garde” for the political Union and a locomotive to integration, we will have to deplore the dilution of the European Union into a simple enlarged Union.
Our failure to ratify the Constitutional Treaty and the difficulties of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, combined with the pressure on the enlargement, must encourage make a qualitative jump which will enable the Union to integrate all the new waves of adhesions within an institutional framework enhanced by a reinforcement of common policies. This “avant-garde” must be the first step of a process bringing the EU to build a better Union for the Mediterranean and a better integration of new candidate states.
Through a deep institutional restoration brought by the development of a Constitution and by the formation of a solid core, we would avoid the blockages accumulated since the signature of the Treaty of Maastricht and we would cease condemning Europe to impotence. We would give each other the means of escaping a possible crisis which, if our weaknesses were revealed, could lead to a regression and maybe even to a dislocation of the construction achieved since 1957.
It would finally be necessary to prepare the passage of the current Commission to a European government with a president, a vice-president and ministers. The president elected by universal direct suffrage would be the true executive chief, with the capacity to dissolve the Parliament.
For the Parliament, two houses are necessary; one must represent the citizens, the other the States.
The first “the House of citizens” would approach the current Strasbourg Parliament.
The second is a “House of nations” which would represent the States at a rate of some representatives per Member States with an equal number of representatives whatever the size of the state. In the case of a simple majority vote, one state = one vote. In the case of a unanimous vote, the decision is taken when all participants agree on it. One can ask the question of the balancing of the decision making weight of the states in the majority voting process by determining the number of votes that each will obtain in the future. One can propose demographic criteria, (already present in current calculation) which does not fit small states like Luxembourg, Belgium, etc… To avoid making “small states” become second class actors by reducing their decisional weight, it is necessary to return to the basic principles of international relations, namely: one State = one vote. Through this simple equation we are merely respecting the elementary laws of democracy. This constitution, as the Constitutional Treaty, must be formatted by an independent “Council of the Wise” which, thanks to the Internet, would make it possible for all citizens to take part in the discussions. This fundamental work and this formidable challenge, the elaboration of a constitution, would bring Europe into daily life. The participation of everyone could result in the beginnings of European civism. This goal supposes difficult reforms on the level of the European Union and on the level of Member States. The consequences for member states would be the consideration of engaging themselves in a new territorial distribution of power. As for Europeans citizens, the means to count in the global geopolitical game can be achieved primarily by the reorganization of our institutions. There are two possible objectives: the redefinition of the functioning of the European Commission and the search for a new decision making process at the Council of Ministers or the Council of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty is moving in that direction.
This renewal of the Union’s political framework will not be an easy task. Within the circle of Europe’s 27, as was made clear by the failure of the Constitutional Treaty and underlined by the difficulties faced by the Lisbon Treaty, there is no lack of adversaries to that goal. Furthermore, the elaboration of a solid core will not be well received by candidate countries; they will, in effect, feel faced with an added obstacle. Parallel to this, certain Central and Eastern European countries will show reluctance to join an excessively federal Union after living under the dominance of the USSR. Due to this they might show a legitimate need to keep their new-gained independence.
Thus we must, in this case, initiate a true political debate around the Union, a debate that must aim to inform and include all the States as well as the majority of their citizens. We could propose, due to the principles presented here in the ideas of a Constitution, an associate member chair in the Chamber of Nations, to candidate states. We could thus, thanks to a constitution, set up institutions which could deal with different conventions varying from associate member states to permanent members.
Faced with the strategic issues of the 21st century, a political construction of Europe is necessary; the new challenges cannot be simply managed by isolated States or by a system of intergovernmental co-operation.
In the center the “solid core”, governed by a Constitution of which the members belong to the European Union and who take part in the common internal security policies (Schengen space) and external (Defense policy) as well as the Euro area. The first periphery, the European Union Member States which do not wish to adhere to the Political Union. Finally, a last group would correspond to the applicant countries and/or to associated members.
This “solid core” would be the engine of the Union. This integration with variable geometry has the advantage to propose a pragmatic construction of the European Union. Each State can thus adapt its rhythm to the admission requirements of the political organization or decide not to adhere to it. By the development of these three “families”, one goes from total integration to continuous influence.
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