Don’t intervene in the British struggle whether it is right or wrong to leave the European Union, that is a domestic debate of the British. Do not comment on on the presidential election in Austria, it is for the Austrian people to decide who is representing the country. Every country should decide whether it will or won’t give shelter to refugees coming to Europe.
European domestic policy
These times should belong to the past as the European future looks different. If Europe is the answer to the challenges of the 21st century Europe has to develop and has to be more than just an economic alliance with the focus on the single market. On thing Europeans eager to develop in this direction is that we need a common public debate on European level – a European public sphere. Very well. Things do not happen just on the European level solely as Europe consist of its very own pieces, the member states. Thus questions like the Brexit, the approach on how to deal with refugees and the outcome of crucial political decision that might question the values of Europe should be discussed by all Europeans equally.
No matter what happens in one of the member states, all governments should accept that not only the national citizens are involved in the debate but also their European counterparts. Sure, hard to accept for ruling political parties as there would be even more opposing wind from all over Europe. That is nothing that someone in power appreciates. But if the European project should be successful and we really want to have a European public sphere we have to start right away to intervene much more in important national debates that matter for the whole European Union. The (diplomatic) reluctance to raise the voice on political matters in another European member state is the relict of the past; it’s 20th century European politics.
More courage and having balls of steel is what counts. Civil society is on a good track, especially in social networks. The traditional media and moreover the political elite is far too modest on this issue (politicians understandably out of self-protection). But if we really want to take one step forward in European integration we have to start to scrutinize all the developments in Europe and raise our voice.
Guard our European values
This also includes to defend what we as Europeans defined for ourselves. Europe is strong, has the power and has the resources to manage challenges like the refugee question. It only needs two crucial things: political will and fortitude. No matter who goes goes crazy – Putin, Orban, Erdogan or Kaczyński – Europe should have learned one lesson from history after the Second World War: the solution to a peaceful, democratic, free and prosperous Europe lies in the close cooperation of the nations states and the ever closer union based on values and principals like human rights, democracy, rule of law, solidarity, equality, protection of minorities and respect.
If one from within the union or from outside tries to question this fundamental agreement the Europeans have to stand as firm as possible. If Erdogan wants to give up the so called deal between Turkey and the EU on how to handle refugees – so be it. European leaders have the power and resources to find European solutions on their own. In this case Turkey would easily find out, sooner or later, what approach would prevail. I would put my money on the European way. It might take longer, it might be tougher but we as Europeans could do it without giving up our values and loosing our face.
Change for the better
If populists’ parties in the EU want to tell us that we will better be without or in the British case better be off Europe we also have to stay firm and do not try to copy and paste their answers only because they are quite successful in current elections throughout Europe. Easily said but the only sustainable answer is a good, citizens-serving policy that includes the people and brings them security and confidence – even in insecure and challenging times. That might include that political parties and politicians have to give up time-honoured policies and political answers. Developing new solutions and developing the own political profile is nothing indecent. As the last Soviet leader ones stated “who comes too late is punished by life”. So better be quick and defeat the European populism with good politics and a united European approach – a European domestic policy!