For decades politicians in Europe have done their European policy without paying much attention to what European citizens really want and how they want their European Union to be constructed. Surely we had times of crisis in Europe and slow progress in the integration process. This was always brought to an end with the next big step in the integration process and mostly with deepening the EU.
Europe is loosing its citizens
The current crisis in Europe so far was also managed without listening to the Europe citizens. The stock markets are back on track but many mostly southern European countries are still in deep economic trouble. Just have a look on the unemployment rates of young Europeans in Spain or Greece and the horror is obvious. The austerity policy is questioned more openly and the European leaders don’t act in concert. Moreover a new danger arises now slowly on the horizon. The citizens do not longer support the European idea. The Washington based Pew Research Center just published a study named “The New Sick Man of Europe: the European Union” showing declining support for the European Union in many countries. The EU does not only not include its citizens into the integration process it also losses the citizens in general.
Political leadership is needed
The European Council is the leading institutions in the EU giving general guidelines and incentives for the integration process. But there are none. The heads of state and government do react to the crisis and do not form the Union for a positive future. Germany is blamed to stick strictly to its austerity policy and I think people are right to do so. I do not argue against to do good and sustainable financial and monetary policy. But to follow this path without looking to the right and to the left is stupid. Politics should be shaping the future for the good. Only reacting to developments already happened is necessary but not a good approach in the long run.
A new European offer for the citizens
European leaders should come up with a new agenda for Europe. If there is a good time to push forward it is now. It is even the best time to bring things to the agenda that were unthinkable some month ago. If we do not want to leave the European citizens behind we have to offer a new European dream, a new European value for the people. Our political leaders are the ones who should take care off this. This does not pardon the Commission or the European Parliament. They could also step forward to present this new European narrative. As both institutions normally considered very pro European it would make more sense and would give more power to the new approach if the member states (the European Council) would be the ones taking the lead. A combined approach is also thinkable but we need the member states to be included with their political will. The new idea should be in an area with no connection to economics of fiscal policy. The new European offer should be something totally different to attract people from scratch.
Europe is even more in danger than it seems in recent months. Our politicians should recognize this finally. They should not play with the fire as loosing the game would cost a huge prize.
Post picture by “Stefan Franke” CC-Lizenz by-nc-nd