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    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
    Here’s my vision for Europe:

    1. In the short term, the EU should focus on strengthening economic integration. The EU should not push for more political integration against the will of its member states but instead should focus on creating conditions for potential political integration in future, as and when Europeans become ready for it.

    2. This should include policies aimed at fostering the freedom of movement for EU’s people and businesses, encouraging the use of English as a common language of communication and encouraging the creation of a common public sphere (in each case especially by scrapping existing protectionist and/or discriminatory regulations and practices and by letting newly liberated Europeans cooperate with each other in the new environment). Only if such policies are adopted and are left to gradually bear their fruit will the time be ripe for further political integration.

    3. Immediate political integration should only be pursued where delays risk causing immediate disruptions and irreparable harm, such as (in my view) as regards global warming and common energy policy.

    4. In the meantime, EU should also focus on reforming those of its existing policies that are severely deficient, including most notably the common agricultural policy (which basically destroys the market in agricultural products by means of what are essentially communist practices and regulations) and the regional policy/structural aid (as a result of which enormous funds are being inefficiently poured into projects that do not fully deserve it). [It is also noteworthy that these policies are in stark conflict with EU’s other values and negate the beneficial effects of EU’s other policies (e.g. the CAP destroys EU’s achievements in development aid and the regional aid more than offsets the benefits of state-aid regulations and harms the environment – as was, for example, eloquently described in a recent BBC feature on Portugal).]

    5. In addition, the EU should not fence itself off from the surrounding world, should encourage the spread of freedom and rule of law in other countries and should be open to enlargement as and when potential candidates are fully prepared for membership.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008

    1) One of Covey's Seven Principles is "Begin with the end in mind". When the EU started in didn't do this. It still doesn't know what it wants the end state to be. Your suggestion doesn't include an end state either. You are probably right that economic integration needs to be firmed up and you are probably right that EU citizens are happier with economic integration than with political integration. I think that the EU's political leaders should have the courage to put on record what they want the EU end state to be.

    2) Agreed.

    3) Agreed. I'd like to add common foreign policy, including inevitably a common defense force, to your list.

    4) Agreed. The only proviso being that some states may have joined the EU thinking that they would benefit from these deficient policies, so reform would have to be phased.

    5) Agreed. Again I'd like to see some political courage here. The EU leadership should state who potential candidates are, even if they have not yet shown any interest, i.e. Israel/Russia/Lebanon/Australia.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008

    I note that we agree on most points. I wonder if there's someone on this forum who disagrees.

    1) I agree that EU's political leaders should come clean about their intentions for what the EU should be (it being understood that future generations may hold different views). The core of my argument was that the EU should at this point pretty much drop any attempts at political integration and should focus on strengthening economic and personal interactions in the lives of ordinary Europeans. They may in future create conditions more conducive to political integration, in which case (but that's a big IF) I think the ultimate goal should be a European federation. However, this is currently not feasible (and therefore not desirable). Therefore the scope of powers to be delegated to the EU should be for the time being limited to what can be handled efficiently without a federation. What is your suggested "end state"?

    3) I agree that a common foreign and defense policy should in theory be feasible without a common European demos/culture/legal system/language/public sphere. However, in practise, European countries can't agree on most foreign policy issues. How do you overcome that?

    4) Agreed.

    5) I agree although your choice of potential candidates is probably very controversial.

    Israel - but why not Palestine in such case? And the whole Middle East and North Africa?
    Russia - but only assuming it becomes a democratic country? Plus presumably all other ex-USSR countries?
    Australia - should EU then merge with the British Commonwealth and other similar post-colonial organizations?

    I think the EU should clearly communicate to which countries it is prepared to offer membership once they qualify (i.e. currently the Balkans and Turkey) and should stick to any promises so made. However, the EU should perhaps also leave the door open for potential other candidates in future (without enumeratively naming them) even if their membership now appears only a remote possibility (e.g. North Africa, Middle East, Russia, other regions of the world) (their potential membership may depend on which way the EU and the world will develop).