The European Council consists of the Heads of State and Government of the 27 member states of the European Union making them the top politicians in their countries as well as in the European Union. In such a position, if you want or not, one is a paragon and the leading figure for all citizens. Haven’t we talked for years about bringen the EU closer to its citizens, showing them how important the process of European integration is to manage the problems of the 21st century? Haven’t we discussed the shift from a 20th cenrury “Atlantic century” to a 21st century “Pacific century” minimising political Europe due to a proclaimed change in US politics to a brider focus on Asia instead to Europe? Yes, both topics have been discussed in length. And what does the European Council do?
European money from 2014 to 2020 and Greece
Lately the European Council sat together to find out how much money the EU may spend within the next Multiannual Financial Framework. We all know by now that a final agreement was postponed until 2013. The Heads were not able to find a solution for the next 7-year-period. If Greece is on the agenda the national representatives are often much much faster in coming up with spending billions of Euros. No one would deny that the problems are very complex and that national interest play a vital role in all these arguments but the political signal is devastating. Europeans are not able to manage the game. In Germany for example the government did not achieve the so called “Kanzlermehrheit” (50% + 1 vote out of the total seats of the parliament) to pass the latest Greece-related law through the Bundestag, the German federal parliament. Truly a symbolic event this time but nevertheless an indicator of internal disagreement. Even the own coalition does not fully support the Merkel approach to the European problems. If Merkel is not able to convince her own bunch of people how could she achieve it with all the others?
Moreover the discussion about the MFF shows still the national approach to European politics rather than thinking truly European? Why not reduce the CAP massively, why not boost money to the education budget? Logical steps just stranded because of national interest which is in this case party politics and survival in government.
European common foreign policy
Then just two days ago the General Assembly of the United Nations granted Palestine the status as non-member Observer State. The EU tried to find a common voice in this issue an ended up in total disorder. Some countries voted in favour some abstained an even one country voted against. In the press release by Catherine Ashton you could read:
“The EU has repeatedly expressed its support and wish for Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations as part of a solution to the conflict.“
No matter which opinion you have about the Middel east conflict, the message here against – no common agreement by Europe. Ashton proclaims something which is not connected to political reality as we have experienced by the vote In New York on Thursday.
If European leader continue to behave like this no matter if its a budget issue, a question in foreign policy or the debate about Greece or whatsoever, this European Union will not be build effectively nor close to the citizens. If we all should identify ourselves with the EU and stand up for it, the political elite should come up with more European spirit.