Europe is dead, long live Europe!

30 Oct

While back home in the Netherlands the first European election programmes are being presented, I am in Paris, hosting a conference about the future of Europe. Très chique, at the prestigious Sorbonne University, with heads of state, ministers and professors.
Euro-scepsis? Not a lot of that to be found here. ‘The crisis was not due to Europe, but due to a lack of Europe! Says Italian prime minister Letta with stars in his eyes. He gets a standing ovation in return.
Not enough Europe? I doubt it. We are stuck with 766 MEP’s, and a European Commission which grows after each accession. Why? Because they once agreed that every member state gets its own Commissioner. And so we have seperate Commissioners for, to name but a few, fishery, the countryside and regional policy. Undoubtably all very important. But all of them could easily be shared, if you ask me.
And in the mean time, 70% of all European citizens don’t feel they’re being heard in Brussels, and two out of three Europeans say they would much prefer to directly elect their European president.
Even Aart-Jan de Geus, the former Dutch minister of Social Affairs who now works for a German think tank, acknowledges the democratic deficit. ‘First, we need to work on the legitimicy of European institutions’, he said. That sounds like a good start.
So I say: goodbye exorbitant fees and per diems, goodbye to stick-to-their-seats politicians, goodbye louche lobbyists, goodbye double agenda’s. And while we’re at it: let’s get rid of the whole Strasbourg circus, shall we?
Please don’t get me wrong: I am NOT against Europe. On the contrary, I am all for more European cooperation. But let’s work with a Europe that works. And that sound of criticism is one I hear too rarely from Europhiles.
What my European dream was, asked a French camera crew. ‘Control-alt-delete’, I said. Let’s reboot the whole system, and install new software. Because before Europe can really solve any problems, it should make sure it is not a problem herself.
Europe is dead, long live Europe!

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