September 10, 2012
It is always prominent in my mind the sentence I read in my Marketing Management school book (by Kotler), “having failed our communication campaign we had to triple our efforts in money, time and resources to regain the original clientele”.
This phrase epitomizes the situation in which the EU finds itself in – the mishandling phase. The original enthusiasm shown 10-15 years ago substantiated by press and TV spots, the Eurovision shows, the fireworks, etc. are now lost in memory of the less young. Nevertheless, in a time of crisis and sacrifice, the reassuring voice of the master would be desirable.
Whose fault? It can equally be shared between Brussels and all recent national governments. The EU Communication Department may have missed its mission or found itself short of budget while national governments have found it “expedient” to put the blame on the EU for anything being wrong at home, a sign of poor statesmanship.
The common citizen is not an EU insider and does not take the trouble to find the source of the problem, simply because he has not been called to vote for ‘those sitting in Brussels’ most of the time being unaware that indeed, he is called to elect the EU parliament, at least in the countries where he can put the name of a physical person in the ballot!
How can the EU improve? It certainly finds itself in a fleece-like situation (difficult to disentangle). It should first and foremost distinguish itself from those countries who are less interested in forming a confederation; the objective of becoming an economic and political Union should be enshrined in a constitution, the first! This very step would make its intentions plain. The present parliament is composed of pro and contra-Union and a common aim is not easily attained. Pro-Union countries are obviously those sharing the common currency, at least in principle; countries outside the Union would become partners of a free-trade area and would undergo less compelling EU legislation.
How can the Eurozone promote a sense of belonging?
A sense of belonging among citizens and among companies is achieved when interests concur and interests concur when the legislator engages in protecting the citizen and promoting economies of scale.
Not many citizens today are aware that if an employee spends his whole career working for companies in different Eurozone countries his pension is aggregated and safe.
Commissioners are elected by the Council in agreement with national governments at present; they are expected to make the interest of the Union rather than that of their respective countries and this is not always granted.
It would be wise if the citizen could vote to elect the Commission delegates directly and even the President; besides, parliamentarian’s elections should be better grouped in a single electoral college.
Multinational companies of European interest could be taxed at European level, setting the ground for a common fiscal authority; the yield could partly finance the EU budget reducing the amount due by member countries.
In the Eurozone we have too many small companies; some of these are located along the various borders, often speaking the same language. Legislation could be implemented to promote the aggregation/merging of small entities into bigger companies capable of competing at the continental level more effectively.
Likewise, bordering regions could be led to cooperate and possibly share services in order to produce economies; let us consider that ethnic-groups areas like Alsace (France-Germany), Flanders (Belgium-Netherlands-France) and Tyrol (Austria-Italy) just to mention some, would be eager to share more services and feel part, again, of a unique political system.
I have mentioned just a few bedrock initiatives for the EU to show the common individual that the European Union is factually taking shape.Elio Pennisi