The candidate, the President elect and the US-President Trump has talked and twittered a lot about the UN and the world order, about NATO, about the European Union (EU) with the envisaged Brexit and about other countries – and outed himself as a still fairly ignorant political magician’s-apprentice.
About the EU Trump said: “People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity. …I think Brexit is going to end up being a great thing,” because more countries will follow out of the EU which will break up. In his perspective this might help to make America great again. The majority of the American people wanted him as their President. What is their view on the EU? It might be that a lot of people are better informed than Trump because they get their information not only by the populist and Brexiteer Nigel Farage or the right-wing populist Gheerd Wilders.
And quite a few people might remember that the tolerant, peaceful, pluralistic and open European society was and still is the base of the long-lasting friendship between America and Europe. But the EU is changing in a rapidly changing world.
In 2012 the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.That was in the 55th year of her existence, and during this time, the EU has truly worked hard for her peace and reconciliation and thus deserved the prize. Since 2012 some crises shocked the EU and created an unstable political situation – quite similar to the rest of the world. And The refugee-problems in 2015 raised strong nationalism in some member states of the union and caused growing un-solidarity. 2017 the EU will celebrate her 60th birthday.
If this should be a joyful festival in Rome, the EU has to immediately start reorganizing and adapting herself to the strongly changed political framework conditions.
The EU has begun as a community of solidarity and values among a small number of member state of “Core-Europe”. Because everyone was convinced of the importance of the EU for a positive development and future of Europe, all strongly felt solidarity and willingly shared the same values, therefore it was agreed that decisions were to be taken on the basis of an unanimous consensus-principle. The original circumstances of decision-making have fundamentally changed as a result of the enlargement of the EU by countries who basically were not fit to become members such as Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as by a marked increase in nationalism, with pronounced egoisms such as shown by the Visegrad Group in the EU – Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The 28 member-states of the EU today can only reach a consensus on the basis of the lowest common denominator which is not enough to shape the future and solve the vast amount of problems. This has reduced the EU’s ability to make decisions, its capacity and ability to act when having to solve specific problems such as in the refugee crisis. There are countless summits, unsuccessful meetings with a lot of content-less diplomatic talk and countless ineffective appeals. This rather sad state of the EU is not only frightening “loosers”, but also makes politicians and members of the self-proclaimed elites doubt the good future of the European Union. In addition, more and more citizens are losing their trust in the EU’s ability to effectively protect Europe’s borders. How should one have confidence in an organization that has not succeeded in defining a common foreign and security policy in many years? Instead the EU is making shift with symbolic politics, spreading of illusions and pretending progress.
However at the moment, the Member States are not pulling together in economic and financial policy either. Agreements are broken without any consequences being drawn, structural reforms are not being promoted in economically weak Member States such as Italy and France, and youth unemployment in the southern member states remains threateningly high. Europe is now increasingly breaking its own rules and is still producing excessive debts. And tax authorities in some member states, notably the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland, have a common cause with tax evaders at the expense of the economies of ‘more honest’ members.
The European Union in this condition is not a dangerous opponent or an economic enemy of the USA but still a valid political and economic partner sharing the same values. Furthermore the EU still is the biggest and most successful single market of the world with ample economic dynamism in Europe and worldwide. That is why the new US-Administration should consider a new start of the transatlantic TTIP-negotiations, for the benefit of the USA and of the European Union.
Anyway the EU must overcome her desolate state, reduce the dissatisfaction of politicians and citizens, and regain confidence if she wants to have a future in our global world. To this end, the EU needs to change her structure and make qualified majority decisions the basis for its capability to decide and act. The EU must set objectives in the relevant policy areas and define the common policies necessary for this. Where necessary, the EU must find a deeper integration. Member States that do not want a deeper integration should be allowed to leave the EU, and instead of membership, a privileged partnership could take place. The consequence would be a European Union with differing velocities. And the EU should find a realistic, honest enlargement policy and, in view of the development of Turkey towards an autocratic presidential system, should freeze the accession negotiations and immediately stop EU payments to Turkey for structural development – despite the fact that Turkey is NATO-Member.
The Brexit – and this is the only good news of it – forces the EU to rethink its organization fundamentally but the Brexit will not break up the EU, even if some other countries would decide to leave as well.
The EU is too important for all those who want to be part of this value oriented community and most successful single market in the future, to let the Union be destroyed by lack of solidarity, nationalism and egoism of some member states. The future EU will be smaller but a deeper integrated political union and far more efficient.