Here’s a wide-ranging list of ways to fix the EU’s problems

#CriticalThinking

Picture of Cédric Villani
Cédric Villani

The European project suffers from bureaucratic inflation and control frenzy. Processing delays are crazy and a major administrative simplification should be undertaken. This can only be done in coordination with member states, as the problems of bureaucracy are in large part due to mistrust between countries.

My conclusion has been that Europe should focus on communication, coordinating rather than unifying law to avoid the mistrust of the past. Like in economics, having a single currency is an anomaly if there is no commonly understood economic policy. Europe has done a lot to support agriculture and small organisations, but one mistake in communication is not cancelled by ten good deeds, and currently one of the main problems in Europe is miscommunication.

Do create an observatory of European higher education that would monitor and collect statistics about the whole system

As for Europe’s leadership, the rules for designating commissioners must be rewritten. They are too rigid and sometimes absurd – the number and designations of commissioners should only be through prior need, not determined by the number of member countries. In addition, merge the Presidents of the Council and of the Commission, so there is one executive president in Europe. This President should be elected directly by Europe’s citizens. Such is not only in the interests of greater efficiency, but also communication and fostering public debate.

Switzerland’s entry into the EU should be negotiated in exchange for relocating the capital from Brussels to Geneva. The current pejorative image associated with Brussels across Europe is so extreme that I fear it cannot be undone in decades. This new location would help underline the EU’s complete administrative renewal.

Europe’s other pivotal fault is its lacklustre education strategy. The solution is to make youth mobility and knowledge of other European countries a priority. For this, multiply the Erasmus+ budget by, say, ten and make it a key objective that 50% of each generation has a trip in Europe outside of their own country as part of their training. Additionally, offer every single European child the opportunity to be part of an exchange programme with foreign classes.

The unification of higher education systems is an absurd and harmful aim that’s best forgotten

The unification of higher education systems is an absurd and harmful aim that’s best forgotten. The key is diversity and coordination. But do create an observatory of European higher education that would monitor and collect statistics about the whole system. The OECD is a good starting point but such a diverse subject would need a much deeper comparative analysis.

Start two specific campaigns about higher education. One for the integration of bright students from Eastern Europe, both in Eastern and Western Europe, and another for shaking and fostering the Italian system, which is dying from a lack of money and abuse of bad practice. These two programmes should probably be conducted through informal agreements by the institutions themselves. On top of this, there must be a massive programme of publicity for European science in schools, in the form of a book with the same material in all European languages. There is more than enough competence in Europe to write such a book.

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