January 29, 2013
Would a new treaty solve the current EU debacle?
There is a distinct possibility, argued by many, that a new treaty, sparked off the Cameron speech could in turn prove to be a turning point in EU development. Even if in principle I share that view, some things need to be achieved beforehand. And chief amongst those is talking with the citizens.
The Commission has dubbed 2013 as European Year of Citizens. However I think the understanding of the topic, and moreover, the way it is applied is not exactly the best. Sure enough, understanding the benefits and advantages of the European Citizenship is important, but how about responsibilities?
And in turn, what type of responsibilities are we talking about? Most of the presumed responsibilities associated with citizenship as a concept, are already encompassed in the national citizenship that each EU citizen has. And so the problem becomes what responsibilities can we associate with EU citizenship?
It’s important, for me, that citizenship not only denote in benefits but also in responsibilities. Because things granted tend to be taken lightly since there is no associated conditionality to them. You can’t lose your EU citizenship as long as you are citizen to one MS, and since no MS (yet) has left the EU, no one ever lost his citizenship. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but experience has shown that most desired citizenships also have a quite distinct opportunity to be lost.
I think it is important to understand that when something that brings inherent advantage is also losable, people will start paying attention more to what it is that they need to do / upheld / protect.
I would love to see this initiative from the Commission take a more poignant approach to educating the European Citizen on EU affairs. To break the barrier that separate Brussels from the world. The crystal palace seemingly being built in Belgium does not help the cohesion of the EU. It alienates and rips through the potential integrated population. It creates friction and opens the door to latent exaggerated nationalism.
The young tree that the EU is needs not sever its finest roots – the people. Cut down sufficient of them and the tree will come down. But in order for Brussels to understand this, it might first need to understand that governments, no matter how transparently and democratically chosen at one point in time, are not the people. And that communication needs to be adapted, not to 27 (soon 28) languages but to 500 million voices that don’t resound in Brussels, to 500 million people that are worried about tomorrow.
And tomorrow can’t be built without them.