Forging a stronger EU means avoiding “directorates” of the strongest countries

Europe's World

Citizens' Europe

Picture of Dóra Bakoyánnis
Dóra Bakoyánnis

Europe has been remarkably unsettled for more than a decade. Europeans, particularly the younger ones, sense a dual lack of legitimacy, with their faith diminished in both the nation state as well as in the EU because of its lack of democratic legitimacy and inspirational leadership. The EU appears relatively weak in dealing with economic and social crises, and is perceived as impotent vis-à-vis world affairs and also the great crises in its own immediate backyard: Ukraine, Syria, ISIS, North Africa and the Caucasus.

Yet there are unexpected signs of strength. In my own country, nearly 80% of the Greek people uphold their belief in the EU and in the euro after five years of hardship. That said, internal EU problems like the debt crisis in the south and the refugee problem point to an urgent need for a renovation of both policies and institutions.

That means we need to promote political union and democratic supervision avoiding informal “directorates” of the strongest EU countries at the expense of weaker ones. We must enhance the Union’s democratic legitimacy by, among other things, amplifying the powers of the European Parliament and strengthening the democratic base of both the Council and the Commission.

Second, we must complete the EU’s Economic and Monetary Union. Building a new eurozone consensus will be hard. National elections are being fought on polarising dissent, but the EMU cannot go on walking with just one leg. That demands an economic, fiscal and banking union, as well as effective governance of the eurozone, preferably with its own Parliamentary Group.

Europe has to learn from the 4% growth rate in the U.S. and strengthen the supply side in our economic policy. We have to set out new policies, new rules, and a clearly development and jobs oriented convergence strategy. It is also essential to conclude the TTIP and move towards a more balanced euroatlantic free trade zone.

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