The EU/Eurozone – Start Again or Plod On?
A Model Outline
Following on from my Intro blog yesterday what is the future for Europe – do we need a new European model, or can we fix the existing model? To date the politicians have held the cards, but is it now time for the people to speak. Even the countries of the former Soviet Union now have had enough time and understanding to know what is possible, and what they would like to see as a sustainable future. Do we revise the current model, or just as with the EEC and the ERM, we put it down to experience and start again with the benefit of hindsight? I am looking for input so I would like to start with a provocative statement or two as I would like to encourage discussion and comment on the future of Europe for our children and grandchildren.
I hope that this will be an evolving blog where interested parties feel that they can contribute to the debate with comments, and be heard. Non-Europeans are welcome to participate as all input is valuable input. The resulting model for Europe should not be insular, and it is important both in relations and trade that the outside world sees a friend and partner with whom it can engage politically, and conduct business.
For the purpose of this discussion can I propose that we call our new model the United States of Europe. I have an utter dislike of any name using the word ‘Federal’ (sounds like a police state), and any reference to the word ‘Republic’ automatically removes any debate about a monarchy, and I am far from convinced that many people in Europe feel that a republic is the only option. Furthermore I would suggest that the United States of Europe is fully inclusive of all countries in Europe, as with the United States of America.
So let us start with the provocation.
- I believe that it is a fact that the EU has no democratic legitimacy. Has any member state to date asked the people to vote on whether or not their country should become a member? This should not be confused with referendums for treaty ratifications.
- For over 2 years now the politicians have attempted to solve the financial problems within the Eurozone. I would suggest that if you put some of the best banking minds into a room for 4 – 6 weeks, devoid of politics, vested interests, and with open minds, workable solutions to the financial problems of the Eurozone can be achieved. The pills may not be sweet, but they would be equitable and sustainable in the long-term. For example Germany was by far the economic winner with the introduction of the Euro – now it must deal with the appropriate reciprocity.
- We must start with the tenet that a democracy consists of a framework of a Government freely elected ‘by the people, for the people’ with oversight from an independent judiciary built on merit, not election. This Government needs to build a social and legal framework based on the rule of law, respect for human rights, free speech, respect for International law, and equality for all. In return the electorate need to respect the law, and take responsibility for their role in society.
- A secure, self-sufficient, free market economy consists of a sustainable supply of raw materials and energy, a relatively cheap labour force, innovative skills (excellent education), technology transfer skills, manufacturing, marketing, with stable and effective financing (banking).
- The existing EU/Eurozone is built on political, over economic, sensibilities, fractured by pandemic compromise, with political and national interests as serious constraints to sustainability.
A cursory comparison of the above with the structure of the current EU/Eurozone will reveal that the current structure shows that it:
- fails to satisfy democratic legitimacy;
- is incapable of resolving the existing financial problems, and responds too slowly in any event;
- does not meet the recognised basic parameters of a democracy;
- does not meet the requirements a self-sufficient free market economy; and
- is constrained by the vested self-interest of the political leaders of the member states.
Rather than start by debating ‘Start Again or Plod On’ I would suggest that we start with a blank sheet of paper and identify what the people see as a credible European integration by building a model of an equitable and sustainable United States of Europe. Having developed and agreed such a model we can then compare it to what we have today to determine if we can adapt what we have to what we need, or whether we adopt our new model and move into it, leaving any unnecessary baggage behind in the old model. The other option, which is certainly on the table, is to completely abandon European integration.
Please forget ‘what is’ today in your thinking as details such as what side of the road we drive on in different countries is irrelevant to the future of our children and grandchildren. At the risk of alienation the green lobby can we also ignore what could be in energy terms and just look at the resource base that already exist. Too many people in Europe are currently below the bread line, distressed, and hungry. This problem must be addressed as a priority over any new initiatives. Indeed one of my drivers for this exercise is to divert wasted money in the existing EU into growth generation to create jobs for the millions currently without income. Dignity and self-respect derive from self-sufficiency, not charity. Also let your mind have free rein when considering all of the components of a self-sufficient free market economy. I would suggest that there are countries that could be invited to the party to strengthen self-sufficiency.
The classic method of solving complex multifaceted problems is to:
- Understand the problem, and subdivide into logical components for analysis
- Analyse each component part – Create an ideal solution
- Adapt the ideal solution as little as is needed to make it work
When considering the way forward could we concentrate on what we need in our model to create a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for all, rather than what we want. Many people want a Ferrari car, but they do not need it to live their life in peace and prosperity.
I would like to propose 2 templates to guide us through the process. The first is the creation of the United States of America in terms of some of the hard decisions and compromises that had to be made to ensure inclusion of everyone. As the creation of the USA had the benefit of no historic baggage to deal with I want to use Switzerland as a second template being a country which functions in 4 languages, has a 700 year history, not currently fully compliant as a democracy, and has an unconventional government structure. If anyone would like to propose any other template I am open to suggestions.
In order to make the process manageable I propose to load a series of blogs over time, each one addressing a separate pillar of democracy, e.g. structure of government, judiciary & legal system, taxation, etc and throw in other considerations such as common language, nationality, republic versus monarchy etc. to complete the whole picture.
This is a serious attempt to find answers to the problems that politicians seem unable to resolve. Having spent some 30 years addressing complex problems using lateral and progressive thinking I can attest to the methodology which, on first sight appears too simplistic, impossible and/or unrealistic – but they said this about Keynes at Bretton Woods – until they sat and really thought about his ideas. We still benefit from his thinking today. The fall of the Berlin Wall was an unthinkable piece of lateral thinking after too many years of political bluster. I believe that the collective thinking of people from all walks of life seriously interested in the future of Europe can contribute to solutions to the problems that face Europe. If you have friends or contacts that you feel would find this process of interest then get them involved as well. Think the unthinkable, and enjoy the process.
I will attempt, in no particular order, to start the first discussion blog in the next few days. If you click on the ‘Follow’ tag you will receive an email as each blog is posted.
Thank you for reading my blog, and I hope that you feel it worth the effort.
- Let Italy and the UK usher in a new era for the EU | Enrico Letta (guardian.co.uk)
- Speech: Foreign Secretary speech on the European Union and its future (gov.uk)
- The Economics of European Integration – by Miroslav N. Jovanović (elgarblog.wordpress.com)