October 19, 2012
As we all know the European Parliament is composed of 754 elected members from 27 Member States of the European Union and meets in two distant locations: Brussels where most gatherings are held and Strasbourg, claimed by France, where twelve four-day meetings per year are called. Besides, Luxembourg hosts the Secretariat (administrative body of the parliament) at the famous Kirchberg plateau employing 4000 individuals.
This web of locations is the result of a political trade-off among the EU members evidencing the prevalence of pride to the detriment of rationality, but pride comes at a cost. The advancing economic crisis has laid bare the inconsistency of the original compromise, if nothing else for the cost involved in moving hundreds of delegates and the implied loss of time. Next medium term budget 2014-2020, estimated at € 130 billion, is being discussed this autumn and member countries, Great Britain at the helm, are reluctant to concede an advancement demanded from the EU.
Which solution to the problem?
The European Union at 27 can be assimilated to a large free-trade area where common interests come together to break a number of barriers and accelerate the exchange of goods, services and people. A core number of 17 countries have set up a common currency, the Euro, to eliminate the currency risk incidental to the use of different currencies and improve the productivity of export outside Europe, albeit the incumbent financial problems that we know of, still unresolved.
A restricted group of 12 member countries are working to the advancement of a fiscal and banking union to enhance the authority and merit of the Euro and to arrive at the formation of a federal union in due time; this is known with the term Project Europe.
Mr Cameron, head of the British government, has recently hinted that Eurozone members would better produce a separate budget as their needs and interests have begun to diverge from that of the 27 member countries; a figure of Euro 30 billion has already been estimated. Mr van Rompuy, EU Council president, and Mr Barroso, head of the Commission, are due to present a final proposal “towards a federation of nation states” on 13 December 2012.
The idea of producing a separate budget specific to the 17 Eurozone countries is rational and consistent in view of the ensuing federal project and, in this occasion, the establishment of Strasbourg as the permanent base of the Eurozone Parliament would enhance the value of the future Federation.
The fact of dedicating Brussels as the siege of the European Union at 27 and Strasbourg as the siege of the Eurozone at 17 would have several merits: citizens would understand better the purpose and scope of the two Institutions, the budget would be precisely defined and consenting improved definition of expenses and possibly less cost.
Strasbourg has been historically disputed between France and Germany and reunites the various hues of continental cultures symbolizing the essence of what a Federal Union is about. What better chance to show that unity is now the buzzword!Elio Pennisi