Angela Merkel told during the meeting of the EU in Slovakia: ” The European Union is in a critical situation”, mainly because of the refugee crisis since a year and BREXIT.
The European leaders must now re-invent the European Union, freshen up, or more votes to leave will like in the UK follow, supported by a majority of frustrated citizens of more member states.
One thing all of us may learn from Lenin in 2016, including the EU commission and the important politicians like Mrs Merkel: After Stalin and others complained in the meetings of the Polit-Bureau, Lenin always asked: “What to do?”
The EU looks like an (almost failed) mismanaged internet start-up. Growing too fast in the 1990s, ignorant of criticism and changes, old structures still missing to ‘pivot’ to the new dynamics of the modern world. The EU is plagued by dominant old style management, represented by Jean-Claude Juncker, a pale old politician from Luxembourg who heads the EU Commission with low charisma, too much arrogance and very few fresh ideas. The EU must learn from Silicon Valley too: ‘to pivot’, meaning not a minimum, but a maximum level of flexibility and openness for the new standards and trends of the world.
These should become the guidelines to save, rediscover, and strengthen the ‘Soul of Europe’.
This is not only about the political support by 500 million Europeans, but as well Europe’s fitness in competition to Asia.
Not just words, but concrete plans and pivoting-actions are needed now in the EU and nation-states to safeguard the EU and its position in the world.
The EU needs: Creativity, creativity, creativity!
The West knows how to market Apple´s iPhone, Porsche, or the latest Gucci product perfectly. Hundreds of thousands of talented people deal with marketing strategies, developing new ideas every day on a global level.
In European policy, we are light years away from that.
This realm is dominated by unimaginative administrative policy focusing on crisis management, mere analyses, and administration of problem areas. Form and style are highly regarded, often above substance and result.
Renowned institutes and large conventions analyze problems, but do not offer creative solutions. This approach needs a fundamental reorientation: shifting the new focus to creative actions and comprehensive planning.
We urgently require more creativity as an important element of Europe 3.0.
It ought to be guided by the wisdom of creative geniuses such as Albert Einstein, who often repeated: “Imagination is more important than knowledge” and “We cannot solve problems by using the same level of thinking we used when we created them.”
Here are just a few proposals for discussion:
Our EU and national bureaucracies are our main adversaries
Experience shows that at the end of frustrating and grinding decision-making processes, we usually burn too much money for too little output and are slow, uncoordinated, and inefficient.
Too much money has been wasted, and a lot of creativity and entrepreneurship ends up being blocked.
This red tape monster is harder to fight than any enemy.
Endless diagnosis replaces therapy on the EU, national, and local levels. This is at the core of the problems in Southern Europe as well.
- Why did nobody give warning and set a clear stop signal that Greece or Spain will jump over the cliff with too much cheap borrowing if the ratings go down because of too much debt and too little economic growth?
- Why did nobody press for real and radical reforms in the south of Europe- a fit-for-competition program?
- Why did the EU not send millions of euro to the Syrian refugee camps, needed for water and food by the UN, before more than a million had to flee to Europe last year?
- Why was there no good master plan and no strong actions by the EU to build-up a stable Libya after Gaddafi was kicked-out in 2011- now with ISIS only 350 kilometers south of Europe?
- Why is there no European Rating Agency after years of discussion since 2008?
- Where is a common European foreign and security policy, after the discussions in the EU started as early as 1984?
- What about the dubious policy of cash-as-cash can by the European Central Bank, which supports governments and companies with endless billions in cheap cash even though the Maastricht-Treaty ordered the opposite, and has allowed the savings of hundreds of millions of Europeans to melt like away snow in the sun?
- etc. etc. etc…..
- Too many, too deep holes in the stiff no-action EU Swiss Crese-policy the last years adding to large mismanagement.
- Brussels jumping from one crisis-management to the other with more words than actions.
- Do not blame the 500 millions Europeans, but the top people responsible for this chaos management.
This inability for the EU to carry out good actions and not just nice words and meetings is harming their credibility, and is strangling the soul of Europe.
It leaves too much room for mismanagement and mistrust, which has led to the recent rise in European populism.
Only to demand ‘more Europe’ means just to continue.
This is the beginning of the end of the European Union.
And the end-game started with the Brexit.
“What to do?”
We need steady radical reforms and concrete quick actions – both on the European and national levels.
We can learn from smaller countries like Estonia on how to reform and be more efficient. Estonia has become the best practice in Europe and should now be a model to stimulate Greece and Spain.
We must reform the EU and all national countries in a self-critical and steady process and not just give the bureaucrats more power.
We need better control of the money being spent, and better planning from the top political to the local spending levels.
We need efficient corruption control as well.
Everything in Brussels must be turned upside down, analyzed, renovated, and changed to get the best out of Europe. The EU commission needs a reform itself as well.
Even the focus of the EU on agriculture and assistance to poorer regions and equal living conditions, which ‘eats up’ the single largest share of EU money, must be critically analyzed.
The whole EU concept and its success depends on growth, which in turn relies on employment opportunities. This requires new competitive jobs in small businesses and jobs for the next generations, but this is not the focus of the EU. Why not?
We need fresh oxygen for small business and not – as in Greece – a need for five documents, or more, and one year to start a small restaurant.
The soul of the EU gets lost at the local level, in an inefficient deep swamp.
Europe 3.0 must become “We, the people”, the soul and the spokesman of the 500 million.
We need more annual future and action reports in the EU.
An example of best practices is the excellent EU Youth–Report from September 2012. But why do they only do these every three years? It should be produced and discussed each year as this is the most important problem.
Half of the young people in Greece and Spain are without a job now. The EU “Erasmus for All” will be at the heart of the new EU Youth Strategy. It will enable up to 5 million people to receive EU grants to study, train or volunteer abroad – nearly twice as many as before.
Now we also need annual action reports and planning for:
- Each country, regarding progress in the reduction of deficits, growth, and support for the engine of the middle class.
- Each country, with a global competitive study comparing that nation to the rising economies of Asia.
- We need active revolutionists for a Europe 3.0 – otherwise we are destined to fail. Currently, Europe is too limp and too ossified. This is normal after such a long time and the integration of the South and the East.
A revival of the soul of Europe needs a new fresh approach, a regeneration.
Schuman, de Gaulle and Adenauer were such revolutionaries and visionaries in the glorious founding times of Europe, and their concept of a united Europe was a revolution after two wars.
We also have to stop a perverted argument: Whoever is criticizing EU mismanagement is attacking the glorious aims of a united Europe or is branded a bad populist.
The opposite is true: structures, which in the name of the EU do not work, harm the credibility of the European process.
This includes outrageous wages in the EU where 4000 officials get more money than the German Chancellor. Why do they not pay taxes like all the other 500 million? This perversion shows ignorance and must end now.
A Holy Flame – passion and devotion are needed.
Apple Founder Steve Jobs opened new horizons to foreign and security personnel and civil servants. In his famous Stanford 2005 Commencement Address he offered the following insights: “The only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.”
Strengthening the ‘Soul of Europe 3.0’ means European policy with love and passion – a Holy Flame – aiming at changing the world for the better.
This soul cannot come from old glorious days and history book, but only from the next young generation.
Do we have attractive leaders in the EU with passion who inspire the young people, the Facebook generation, and the population?
Has the top leadership become too pale and too stiff ?
Do we need a new generation of fresh younger active politicians to give Europe attractive and active faces?
Juncker and his team should resign soon and make room for fresh new faces in the EU with creative ideas, will for action, and credibility for change.
There are several good candidates like EU Commissioner Günther Oetttinger or former Prime Minister of Lower Saxony and now MEP David McAllister, just to name two excellent EU politicians from Germany.
With no fresh faces, there can be no future for the EU.
It is an open secret in Brussels that the dominant heads of the government of the member states still prefer pale second-class EU leaders, not to look too pale and weak themselves. That must change.
The foundation of a regeneration of the EU consists of educating a new, responsible generation in Europe.
We must identify many more new talents, support them on-site, and invite them to join us, providing necessary know-how and life-long contacts as well as nurturing mutual trust.
The systematic quest for (and permanent support of) manifold young elites is crucial for the soul of our continent. These EU elites are not the children of the rich, but come from the middle class with a drive to perform.
I can think of no better investment because it creates a responsible elite in crisis areas, addresses the future of youth and their countries, providing a considerable stabilizing effect.
To promote we could start a European Mentorship Program where each year 100,000 young people are connected to senior mentors and learn from them. Thus a young Greek entrepreneur may learn from someone in Hamburg, Tallinn or London. My World Security Foundation is working on such an internet based concept.
We should have mentoring programs for younger European politicians as well, to stimulate a new generation.
We praise the Franco-German Youth Office for its 50 years of great work, but where is a European Youth Office? Since 1963, the FGYO has enabled more than 8 million young people from France and Germany to take part in 300,000 exchange programs. The FGYO’s budget in 2012 was only 20.8 million Euros.
Why do we spend billions for cows and wine but not so much for our youth?
The whole structure of EU-funding for agriculture and old industries must change or we will lose the young generation in competition with Asia.
Let’s integrate the new international NGO networks
Today we have finally arrived in a global village. International organizations and action groups provide a permanent network for hundreds of thousands of active individuals from dozens of nations with entirely different ideas. Let’s network them with the EU much more actively and add their fresh ideas.
Parting from eccentric materialism – turning to values
The networks reflect a reorientation of human individuals. The trend in the elites of society is shifting away from excessive materialism and maximized profits, it is shifting towards a more fulfilled life, and the soul of Europe must come from these values.
Split EU Leadership – distribute responsibilities from Germany and France to Estonia and others
The EU approach is still too Berlin-Paris centric, which does not fit the reality of a globalized world and is also overburdening Germany and France. Smaller nations should lead in some areas, not only Germany and France.
It is time to give small countries real EU responsibilities where they take over leadership for the EU. Estonia should take over the lead for the reform process in Greece. Poland could help Portugal, Latvia support Cyprus.
These are just a few fresh elements of my vision for Europe 3.0 and for the revival of the soul of Europe.