January 29, 2014
Ever since its creation the EU has been plagued by a game of borders. Everybody in it held tightly to their borders and while at first it might have been seen as a matter of geographic lines on the map, this issue has long overstepped that context. We’ve moved on from borders in a traditional sense to more sensitive borders – borders of sovereignty. Member states have always imposed this or that “border” in terms of up to where can the Union interfere within national issues – how far can EU legislation can be allowed to penetrate and to what purpose.
After the 1990’s things got more complex as EU legislation became ever more powerful, and while today things seem to have moved on and progressed, there are still borders being imposed, most notably so when it comes to the UK.
But, in the last 4 or 5 years a new border has sprung into action – a more diluted and perverse border. It’s quite difficult to outline this border, although it’s effect are clearly visible. It’s the populist border. If I were to define it I’d call it the limit where national politicians in office, represented in the European Council, choose to stop pursuing a stronger Union because it would accelerate the rise to power of eurosceptic populist adversaries on the home front. It is a case of monitored activity, where any step of a certain path is equivalent to donating political ammunition to their opponents. It is a border of drive and determination.
I’ve always seen this as a politician’s plague – even if you would like to go further you can’t because that will mean that you’ll approach the end of one’s mandate with fewer chances of being re-elected. And this has become increasingly worrisome in the last months. For example, Angela Merkel, properly re-elected recently has more drive and determination to get some things done at EU level. But while these issues might not be obvious they are there.
One thing that is at the cornerstone of this borders-game is the fact that European decision makers depend too much on national elections, or more to the point their position within the rank of European decision-making depends on their position within the decision-making apparatus on the home front. We all know that while the Commission and European Parliament play an important role in managing the union, the actual status qvo decisions come from the Council. It is there that major initiatives are brought under scrutiny, debated and voted upon. And it is a game of borders there too, because we don’t actually know what goes on in there.
Every Council meeting ever held has had the potential to push us forward. Political decisions that spun from those meetings turn into legislative proposals, treaty modifications, or even simpler new directions in pursuing a solution to a given problem. And those people within the Council are indeed representatives of their respective member state. But what if the position of Member of the European Council would be an elective position – what if we could vote, just as one would vote for the mayor, and send to the council someone who knows that they will only be there for 1 mandate, no more, and that their position is completely independent from national politics. A 2 year position for example, to guarantee rotation and representation for this elected body.
Upon completion of their mandate, these Members of the European Council ( MEC’s) could become a sort of Council of the Elders for an additional 2 mandates – they could be a sort of advisory board to those in the Council, with no actual power to intervene in the debate, but that can be consulted if one MEC feels the need to do so. 2 mandates in the Council of Elders also mean that they would be outside the lobby game for 4 years, and outside national politics for 4 years. They can of course take on other roles, primarily in communicating with the people, transferring debates closer to the citizen.
I am a very big fan of separating national office from European office, but I would like that to happen with the use of votes. People should vote separately for those that will decide the faith of the Union, and as such create a new borderless construct, a stronger Union.Horatiu Ferchiu