Opinions on a federalised Europe

I have been reading a lot lately, on some interesting issues – the failure of the classic party system, challenges facing democracy today, developments in metropolis’ powers, populism resurfacing. All of these are connected. Because all of them deal with the future. And with politics and the way people respond to politics today.

The history of the world is amazing. The evolution of how we organized ourselves, from cave to family, from family to group of families, to the village, the city, the city state, the republic, the empire – and then the fall – the breaking up of empires, kingdoms, feudal states, city states – then countries, empires, nations, federations and confederations. Seems like sort of a pattern doesn’t it?

We have not all amassed the same speed. Multiple layers of organization have coexisted and they still do. We still have nations and countries, different types of “empires” and what is increasingly relevant – new types of city states. On top of that there is a a new specter of feudalism popping up here and there – in Romania it is a common topic for example that heads of counties are considered “barons”, and the full meaning of the term applies.

As our understanding of governance and government has expanded, we see that the new way forward implies transferring decision making to lower administrative levels. Decentralization & regionalization are two main themes in what concerns the way a territory is administered. And this is a good thing. The relevant fact is that decision – making and finance administration is moving down on the scale of administrative levels.

This report by McKinsey&Company, entitled Urban World: Mapping the economic power of cities and this article in the Financial Times entitled Brics economist to chair commission on revival of UK cities sparked through content the idea that if cities are becoming engines of development, and if as Jim O’Neill predicts they will replace states as economic power then it is understandable that cities will become the new global stakeholders in terms of politics too.

Couple decentralization, with the might of the city, add to the mix the “Europe of Regions” and what we get is new city states. We are “going” back to Greece. A different, incredibly advanced, complex and dynamic new type of Greece.

This article from the Policy Network points in the same direction. It recognizes these new seats of power. And it also adds this new dimension to the city – a larger influenced area – a metropolitan or regional area that is controlled and defined by the ‘city state’ that is located there. Again those within the walls of the city, and those outside the wall of the city. Parallels are endless. But this article also talks about populism and the way classical parties fail to represent this new reality.

Every day, the scenario I discussed in my first post in this series, here, comes closer to reality.

The upcoming EP elections are bound to be the most watched and commented elections this continent has ever seen. Because there are incredibly high stakes pertaining to the direction the new EP is going to embrace – more Europe or less Europe. The online reaction to this, and it has already started is going to be huge – everybody will want to say something. Problem is, those that will say something, or want to say something, are a minority. Because in order to keep up with all the aspects concerning this election, you have to be connected. You have to read, interpret, assimilate and draw conclusions. The EU is 500 million strong. As such, there are a wealth of parties and agendas to watch. European political families can only do so much, because as we know, the allegiance is mostly to the local party rather than the european family.

So the question arises: which is more relevant – the european political family or the local party affiliation?

And there is no clear cut answer to that. But we are heading towards a 751 strong European Parliament. Rate of representation is 1 MEP to 673370 European Citizens. [ Calculated using Eurostat data for January 1st 2013 estimate EU28]. But is that a true rate? Probably not. With electoral systems different across the EU true rate of representation might be actually very different. And there are multiple cause for that, that are not the object of this article. It suffices to say that although in theory representative, this writer believes they are not at all so.

What this elections represent is the views and opinions of local voters. I did not say majority, because then we have to discuss electoral bodies, voter presence and so on and so forth.

And much of this inequality between the theoretical model and the actual outcome of elections is caused by lack of information.

The larger body of the EU populous is poorly informed about the EU in general, and the EP is even less represented than the Commission for example. It lacks visibility and it lacks a vehicle to carry the message from the MEP’s to the people. And it is an issue I have always championed – The EP should find a better way to communicate with the people, and more to the point, an unified electoral system is needed. As the EP will come into more powers this years it is vital that people understand what they vote. And I’m not to far from claiming that it should not be a matter of local parties designating their people for the EP.

The ‘City state’ idea therefore moves one step further. City administrations have always found more direct means of communicating with the people. By force of things we tend to be better informed about our immediate surroundings then what happens in Brussels (unless you live there of course). So it is safe to say that if the electoral system would change, and if it would allow the “city state” to become it’s main vector, then the choices that would result from this would be significantly more in tune with reality.

And getting back to the idea in the first article in this series, almost every city today in Europe has at least 1 webpage, a mobile app for something (transport, museums, taxis, etc, etc), local papers and news outlets. What that means in turn is that everybody can be informed directly about the stakes in the choices they will be making.

In turn that means the direct democracy previously outlined is very much becoming ever so possible.



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  1. Interesant, aveti o viziune biologista despre evolutie in istorie,(de la celula la organisme din ce in ce mai complexe, la eco-sisteme,samd) care va aduce inapoi la orasul-stat si – de ce nu ? – de la democratia reprezentativa la cea participativa de tip atenian ! Aveti o pronuntata afinitate cu toate utopiile care plutesc in jur, asta pentru mine este destul de clar . Sigur, se fac eforturi furibunde de subminarea statelor nationale, insa pot sa va asigur ca anunta moarte a natiunilor, ca sa il parafrazez pe Mark Twain, este prematura. Va imaginati ca state ca Anglia, Franta sau Spania sunt gata sa cedeze stafeta noilor “orase-state”? Istoria lumii este fascinanta si pentru ca asa de putini o inteleg, realmente ! ( Engels, spre exemplu il critica frecvent pe Marx pentru lipsa lui de cunostinte solide de istorie, care i-a afectat grav intelegerea fenomenelor economice si filosofia – celebrul “materialism dialectic si istoric” …)

    1. O sa vedeti daca aprofundati subiectul, si aici vorbesc cu cunostinte direct din domeniul meu de baza, ca orasele au devenit noile motoare economice, si ca pana in 2050 vor concentra undeva la 70% din world GDP. Acum daca vreti sa imi spuneti ca un oras care controleaza intr-un fel sau altul orice procent cu din 2 cifre din GDP-ul unei tari nu are putere politica va pot invita sa dezbatem dar va garantez de acum ca nu sunt de-acord cu dumneavoastra. Si cred ca cel mai bun exemplu e Londra. Cand City-ul se va satura de ceea ce fac politicienii lucrurile se vor schimba, si se vor schimba rapid. Noua idee de oras-stat, este puternic diferita de ce insemna orasul stat din Antichitate. Pentru ca in cazul de azi e vorba in primul si in primul rand de putere economica. Si da consider ca statul natiune este depasit, ca multi altii inaintea mea, si ca multi altii azi. Primul meu post pe blogul asta a fost despre statele natiune.

      Cat despre utopii, ca tot faceti referinta la ele, numai de bine. Viziunea mea despre o Europa Federala incepe in primul si in primul rand de la oameni si de la educatie. Si are un orizont probabil de 100+ ani. Ceea ce se intampla acum, relativ la linia asta temporala, este mai putin relevant. Lucrurile merg inainte.

  2. Nu cred ca tocmai eu trebuie sa aprofundez subiectul . Chestiunea e veche de trei secole : centrul economic de greutate al lumii vestice s-a mutat din Mediterana in Atlantic,de la orasele-state ca Venetia sau Genova initial la Amsterdam, apoi pentru mai mult de un secol la Londra, si in fine la New York, iar in prezent la Shanghai si Canton si in zona Pacificului. De ce ? Pe masura dezvoltarii industriei, comertului si capitalismului in general s-a facut simtita nevoia existentei unui stat national suficient de puternic si intins care sa protejeze si hraneasca centrul principal de afaceri, fie ca vorbim de Londra, Amsterdam, New York sau Shanghai. Ca regula, statele din jurul oraselor -capiale comerciale sau finaciare ale lumii tind sa devina din ce in ce mai mari, nu mai mici ! (secolul XIX Anglia, XX SUA, si XXI China) Ati inceput sa pricepeti un pic cum sta treaba ? Pentru rest, puneti mana pe istoria capitalismului de 1400 de pagini, trei volume, a lui Fernand Braudel si vedeti la ce concluzii ajungeti DUPA ce ati citit-o.

    1. Dl Pantazi incep sa cred ca deja depasim cadrul ideilor si nu aveti alt scop decat sa ma atacati personal. Treaba asta cu statul national puternic garant al unui oras competitiv si puternic economic in secolul XXI nu prea mai are treaba cu realitatea. Din fericire sistemul global de azi, comercial si financiar, merge mai degraba spre teoria sistemelor din geografia economica. Dar nu vreau sa mai sustin polemici cu dumneavoastra, pentru ca evident nu asta e scopul dumneavoastra la mine pe blog. O zi buna in continuare.

  3. Eu v-am atacat ideile subrede , nu persoana. In capul dvs este un ghiveci, nu aveti CUM, nu aveti materialul aperceptiv sa intelegeti ce va spun. V-am schitat FOARTE pe scurt evolutia capitalismului si posibilele mutatii din secolul asta. Dumneavoastra aveti o fixa cu orasele-state, aveti impresia ca suntem pe cale sa revenim la orasul-stat : ca nuca’n perete !

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