January 2, 2014
If the European Union were designed in 2013 it would certainly be shaped differently. Its form would resemble more as an enhanced World Trade Organization with a few core nations having gone as far as funding a confederation of States sharing a single Foreign Ministry and a single seat at the “so hypothesized” European Trade Organization. On second thought, I can envision the formation of three Confederated States: Benelux, Switzerland and a few continental countries with France at the core; would Germany and Austria form a fourth confederation? We better ask them.
Messrs De Gasperi, Monnet, Schuman, Spaak, had all a noble vision having dreamed a United Europe and their descendants enthusiastically planned a future exceeding in the number of bricks raised in too short a time. In fact, three fundamental errors were made by the EU in the last 20 years: insufficient thought to the socio-economic cohesion and timeliness for some countries to join in, culpable lack of control in vetting proper economic elements in advance of including a new member and deficient involvement of residents.
However, such a gigantic initiative of creating a union of countries – former enemies – could not be without imperfections and we European citizens must concede that the number of benefits (free market area, common currency, Schengen….) exceed those problems (the crisis) encountered along the way.
We are almost at the end of the present EU legislature and will vote for a new Parliament in May 2014; what should we aiming for? Well, if that were a company the approach would be straightforward: a long-weekend brainstorming session with directors (or presidents) would be the correct move. Enumeration of problems, root of their cause, tentative solutions, answers, re-design of departments, restructuring, action! A revamped enterprise would hit the market in six months’ time.
As we deal with a massive structure whose decision apparatus will be renewed in May to be operative by September the approach must necessarily be different; what the steps? Citizens should exercise due effort and wit to choose experienced, multilingual and computer-savvy candidates to be appointed to the new Parliament; in addition, citizens should ascertain that those voted are sent to Brussels instead of deputies chosen by local Governments as “non-fitting” within the national apparatus.
The new Parliament, and new Commissioner -this time chosen by the Parliament- will presumably include a younger generation eager to talk and learn from each other and, hopefully, exerting enthusiasm in the rationalization of the entire structure. The first action should be that to move the lime-light more toward the citizen and less on the industry; a Union of citizens comes in prominence compared to the industry and essential to build up consensus which rimes with democracy. If more attention is devoted to the travelling citizen it automatically follows that the Commission fulfils the job it is called for, i.e. governing over a union of countries. Harmonizing mobile phone fare-schemes among countries and compel electric plug-and-socket manufacturers to only manufacture the unified European standard type come in prominence compared to the amount of water that a loo should release; the loo does not travel from country to country while mobilphones and appliances often do!
A not less important evolving expected of the Union is the formation of a separate Eurozone budget by 2020, expiration of the next legislature. An economically empowered Eurozone, with its nascent banking supervision, is a premise for the completion of the first real confederate State within the European Union.
The incumbent Commission has recently set up a register to include the 30,000 industrial lobbyists swarming Brussels’ corridors; the aim is to control and prevents that commissioners are biased (or bribed) in the accomplishment of their duties; in my opinion this is absolutely ineffective. In the same way as the consultation of Trade-Unions, the Social, Ethical and Religious organizations are planned, industries should be represented by their respective Guilds and those only should be received by the Commission for consultation. Private companies, however big they are, should be strictly prohibited from entering into direct relation with single Commissioners; it would be a further step towards a balanced involvement of Citizens and Industry in general.
Note: the term “eUnion” in the title is intended to be an “electronically dynamic Union” to rime with eMail, eReader, eBook….and by no means a reduced role of itself.Elio Pennisi