Thursday, October 13, 2011

Debate: What Is The Future Of Europe?

European Studies student association SES in Amsterdam organizes october 17th a debate with Thijs Berman Duch Labour Party's EU MP and Professor Ton Wilthagen on the future of Europe.

The debate is framed around the following statement which reflects Ton Wilthagen's reasoning:
"Is prehaps a united Europe (United States of Europe) necessary to guarantee that we can continue to give meaning to European values on the basis of which we live, work, do business and live?"
As he wrote together with Arno Uijlenhoet in april:
"The debate should be about values ​​and - specifically - on the need for a United States of Europe."
Dutch Historian Jan Dirk Snel in his blogpost "Solidarity - how the euro crisis fosters European integration"   gives a short introduction to the book "The Passage To Europe" in which Luuk Middelaar puts forward his theory of three strategies that establish the European political public sphere: the 'German', the 'Roman' and the 'Greek' strategy:
"The German strategy would be "a cultural or historical identity of rulers and ruled. Language, values​​, habits, things like that. The Roman approach "relies on a benefit that people derive from the functioning of politics'. Protection, safety, those are the terms. The Greek approach ultimately "rests on the periodic review by representatives of the people who make decisions on its behalf. One vote, elections, majority voting, that's what it is about."
Jan Dirk Snel thinks that the current dynamics surrounding the Eurocrisis illustrate that the "Roman" approach is the problem and a combination of the "German" and "Greek" strategies the solution.

All across Europe specialists and historians are frantically searching for a new and satisfactory 'EU narrative' as Ulrike Guerot noted in June:
"Speaking in Dublin this week, Guérot, who is from Germany, emphasised the emotional, demographic and generational sides of Germany’s European disenchantment. The populist narrative about Greece captured the German public imagination and was not properly challenged on its general applicability: “We are victims, we pay, they cheat us.”
President Obama's historic speech in London may 25th underlines his own paradigm shift concerning NATO and the EU as Ulrike Guerot writes in this excellent blogpost:
"As of Wednesday, when Obama held a historical speech in front of both houses of parliament in Westminster Hall in the heart of London, we know for sure that these times are over. Obama announced a change of paradigm and this will be a game changer for the future transatlantic relations."
Sarkozy has worked hard for years to seize his opportunities in this bipartisan US foreign policy narrative and this seems to pay off. But should the old narrative, in which President Kennedy's words "Ich bin ein Berliner"play a central role, be discarded that easily? The words of Polish President Donald Tusk in the European parliament in July suggest the contrary:
"Defending the fundamental rights of Europeans, suchs as free movement across borders is our paramount duty."
Before discarding the old narrative we should at least attempt to answer the question Why has Polish democracy flourished While Its Neighbours Have Slumped? Let's not forget how solidarnosc 's struggle for freedom in the eighties was at the heart of the "old" EU and NATO narrative. As Doug Saunders added:
"@coloredopinions That is an important element, and may have helped form democratic institutions, as did Round Table talks."
When searching for a new EU narrative we should study how Donald Tusk's Civic Platform, firmly rooted in the solidarnosc history, succeeded in creating a narrative that appeals to a mix of liberal, conservative & Christian-Democratic tendencies in Polish politics. A narrative that is favorable to immigrants living in Poland  and at the same time appeals to Libertarian supporters of the Austrian school of economics.

President Kennedy's famous speech in Berlin accomplished just that: it appealed at the same time to all major political tendencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Sofar the dominating communitarian narrative embraced by Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Jan Peter Balkenende, Barack Obama and (perhaps for opportunistic reasons) Nicholas Sarkozy has achieved the exact opposite!

Does Olaf Asbach answer these pertinent questions in his book 'Europa - vom Mythos zur Imagined Community? Deconstructing the notion of Europe..."?  Is Dani Rodrik correct when he claims in his book 'Das Globalisierungsparadox'. Globalisierung, Demokratie und Nationalstaat sind eins zuviel....:
"YOU CANNOT have deep globalisation, democracy and national self-determination all at once, according to US economist Dani Rodrik. You can have at most two out of the three."
I am convinced (and we can see it all around us) that citizens won't buy some new  "Europa myth" if it ignores their own convictions and aspirations. As Stephen R. Covey wrote this week:
"The temperature is rising.We face unprecedented rifts in our society. We're inundated with talk of war -- "culture wars," "class warfare," and the "war on terror."
He proposes a 3rd Alternative:
"One person -- you -- can start the quest for a 3rd Alternative. Just go up to your "opponents" and say, "Are you willing to look for a solution that's better than what either of us have thought of?" Most people will say, "Such as?" And you say, "I don't know. That's the idea. Are you open to seeking a way out that's beyond your way and my way -- a higher way?"
In similar fashion constructing a new EU narrative in theory and practice should be about engaging citizens both abroad and at home, and transpartisan coalition building.

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