February 25, 2014
In my previous post under this title, Building Hope, I talked of a Union Party, and I wondered about the values it should uphold. While there is no definitive list of values to be upheld, I do believe that some of them are innate and should form the basis of any political activity aimed at uniting think-alike people all over the EU. I have spent quite a few days trying to come up with a list. Every day I added and removed parts of that list. Because these values should not be just a log list of words put there for PR purposes. These values must be the foundation on which to build a better future. For all of us.
I’ve ended up with a short list, the things I think should be paramount to such a construct. These values, as they are shared by the vast majority of the EU population, are common core:
– The upholding of Human Rights
– Democracy and the Rule of Law
– Tolerance and Solidarity, Individual freedom and respect for others
– Inovation and pursuit of happiness
– Europe united (reference here to EU)
These are the 5 pillars on which we should build a better union. Everything else is too fragmented and diverse to be considered a unifying value. That’s not say they are not important, but they do fall under the “Unity in diversity” motto, and can easily be included in one of the other 4 pillars.
I’ve said this in my first post – this is a not a left or right idea. Politically this would be more to the center of the political spectrum, and as such all views are welcomed, and all opinions considered. The only thing is not to fall in any extreme, not to become dogmatic for the sake of dogma.
The upholding of Human Rights
The ECHR provides a solid building block. It is without doubt one of the most important treaties ever brought to life on this continent. However, it still has areas to be improved, such as in the field of same sex marriages, and we’ll get back to that later. Furthermore, it implies that in all dealing with any third party respect of Human Rights is paramount and should be a deal breaker, what ever the subject at hand. While it might be seen as radicalization, contradicting the moderation implied within the previous paragraphs, this is not something that I think to be debatable or subject to negotiation.
Democracy and the Rule of Law
Democracy has to be at the forefront of any political action on a Union-wide level. Free and fair elections, allowing all to participate, the right to elect and be elected, separation of powers, these are all essential to building a better union. As it is the case now with the EP elections it is clear that there is not a shared definition of democracy across the union. Sure, we agree on the principles, but sometimes the way we bring them to life is completely different – I chose the case of the EP elections because there are countries like Romania which require 100000 signatures for an independent candidacy and this is not exactly in line with access to all to be elected. Sure it covers the main idea of democracy, but it is implemented poorly, thus constituting a contradiction with the democratic idea. I am well aware that Romania is not a singular case, but I know it best.
Moving on from this there is also a question of electing leaders – I’ve made it very clear in multiple posts over the years that I consider the European Council to be the least democratic institution ever conceived, as it represents majorities of voters that expressed their vote, not a majority of citizens. In that respect I believe that democracy should also come with responsibilities not only rights, and implicitly the responsibility of voting. There has been a clear devolution of interest in participating in a democratic process, mainly due to poor results from a political standpoint. Compulsory voting could be a solution, but that has to be further discussed.
The Rule of Law is self-explicit and can’t be brought under question. Access to justice, fair laws are paramount to a functioning society.
Tolerance and Solidarity, Individual freedom and respect for others
This is a wider topic – Solidarity implies social protection, Tolerance reefers to both tolerance on views, opinion, life style, religious views, sexual preference, race, gender, etc., while individual freedom and respect for others are part of both, but are strong enough as concepts to be clearly stated on their own. Abortion is one of the things that can be indicted under individual freedom, as is euthanasia, as it is a topic of interest right now on the continent. We should stray away from this impetuous of imposing things on others – nobody holds the absolute truth, we each hold the truth that we find absolute. We should live our lives without the fear that our neighbors, that think things differently than we do, will some day barge in and administer punishing. Individual freedom also refers to religious views – so is respect for others – including the belief that no one should be imposed or exposed on purpose to something that does not appeal to him. Faith is a private matter, and as such it should not be imposed on others. There are a million things to discuss here, I know that – but the important thing is to accept the principle – details we can figure out together.
When discussing social protection, it should be noted that it should not be the main purpose of a functional system. Financing social protection is usually the most stringent matter, as well as controlling and distributing it efficiently and in a way that insures protection and quality of life, but also allows for the protected to go past this statue and move along in life. Way to often social protection becomes a way of life in itself, and that should be addressed – there are of course situations where this condition is unsurpassable and that is where social protection is most needed. Over taxation, as well as under financing social systems are not a viable solution, and usually tend to aggravate the situation. More over, social protection should also include access to good education, as paramount to advancing society and solving issues. Medical care is also important here, and it is increasingly a matter of great debate.
Inovation and pursuit of happiness
I’ve always held the view that pursuit of happiness is one of the smartest concepts in the US constitution. It is the fair way to consider this issue – nobody can guarantee happiness but we should be able to guarantee the best environment to pursue that. Innovation is similar – whether in research or entrepreneurship, innovation needs the same type of availability of proper environment to exist and grow. The two are also linked in terms of social development – happy people usually bring about optimism and hope, both needed to take our society further, and innovation stems growth, stimulates the economy and provides jobs. Although we are oriented towards a tertiary economy, there is still room for agriculture and manufacture, and it is our unique position in the world that we can do this responsibly, with respect for the environment and with an added value that i’ve talked about in the past – Made in the EU. Entrepreneurship is key to developing Europe – we need to allow people to build businesses, to offer them a proper regime of taxes and incentives, so that they want to do it and feel supported by the interaction with authority.
Europe united (reference here to EU)
This is something that I have extensively covered throughout my blog – the firm belief that our future lies within a federated EU, surpassing the national state. I feel European. I get along just as fine with someone from France, Greece or Sweden, Spain or Italy, Poland or Belgium. I find that our backgrounds are actually a good conversation starter, and our different experiences and habits create an educational environment where all of us grow. The disappearance of the national state as we know it today does not mean the disappearance of culture and identity, although this is widely used as a critique to the federal model. Sure enough nobody can assimilate all the cultural references across 28 Member States, but that is also true on a much smaller scale – again, as it is the case with Romania, and it’s historical provinces, there are differences in doing things – vocabulary, ideas, way of life, type of habitation, culinary differences, religious, etc. And yet we get along. And i know this is not the only case in Europe. A Union Party therefore must move the EU project further to more integration, and if you go back in my posts and future ones will also show this, there are ways to move things further.
These pillars are far from being exhaustive in this little description I have provided for each. But it is a starting point, and I will detail each of them more in following posts.
But this is a backbone – a skeleton of things I would like to see behind a party that I could vote for. So far no party demonstrates this approach on all key levels. Everybody has their trigger point, where things collapse. And I think this resonates particularly well with their national spawning grounds. Parties within the Member States have not yet gone European for real. And for those of us that have migrated from the national to the European identity, and see ourselves as Europeans first, there is a lack of option.
Let’s move forward, history has.