The European Union urgently needs reform. On that, everybody seems to agree. The difficulty is in deciding what those reforms should actually look like. The Eurozone economy is now ticking along nicely, yet there are still fundamental issues left to resolve, including debt and fiscal governance, the refugee crisis, Catalonia, and Brexit. Are the existing structures and institutions up to the task?

There’s certainly no shortage of ideas and suggestions to draw from. The Austrian writer Robert Menasse has just won the German Book Prize for his novel “Die Hauptstadt” (The Capital), a thriller set in the European capital of Brussels and exploring ideas of supranationalism and federalism; it seems European integration has finally made it to the bestseller list. France’s President Macron has also made concrete proposals and is looking for allies to help him implement his ideas.

Yet counter-proposals are also coming from the Eurosceptics. Parties such as the German AfD, Marine Le Pen’s Front National and Geert Wilders PVV would rather see a Europe of strong nations, with sovereignty returning to national capitals (or even with the EU abolished entirely).

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Pieter who calls for a Europe of regions, without nation states, under the umbrella of a common European republic. Is this a Utopian fantasy?

We put Pieter’s comment to Ulrike Guérot, Professor of European Policy and the Study of Democracy at Danube University Krems and founder of the European Democracy Lab. She has for years campaigned for a European republic of the regions through her writings, research and lectures. Would a European republic really work without a common European people?

I would look at India as an example. India is based on the principle of one person, one vote. Every citizen has a voice in Indian politics, even though it is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious state… What the Indians can do, we can do too.

I’m from Grevenbroich in the Rhineland, and there I only read local newspapers and I did not know what kind of papers they read down in Bavaria. At the same time, I was a German citizen in a community with the people of Bavaria. We do not necessarily have to consume the same media to have a sense of common belonging. We can belong to our local communities and still feel European. You do not always have to know exactly what other Europeans are reading.

I bet that not everyone in California gets up in the morning and wonders what they are doing in Alaska today. And that’s exactly the way it can be in Europe. The important issues are translated and communicated via the media, so that Berlin understands what Bavarians want, for example… We do not all need the same language, nor do we all need the same interests, in order to be equal as citizens before the law.

We also had a comment from Elajah, who wants to see the EU become less political and more about free trade. He wants a new EU trade union of sovereign states, economically stable and in peaceful cooperation. Member States should remain completely politically independent. Why can’t we just go back to the “good old days”?

We can always look back at history, but we can’t turn back time. Instead, something new will come along. I don’t want to give the impression that there is only one solution, namely the European republic. We can choose to build that, or we might not. If we chose not to, the story would go somewhere else. But we certainly cannot go back to what we had before, because it’s simply no longer there.

We cannot go back to the world before Maastricht or before the Single Market, because we are now so interconnected with one another that we now have completely different economics conditions. Whatever comes next must be something different from what we had before.

Now, you can ask: Why did we get to this stage? Why didn’t we just stop at trade? We have to remember the arguments we had about this in the 1990s. Having separate currencies, such as the Deutsche Mark, also carried challenges. And if we go back again, what would that actually mean? What would it mean for the society in which we as European citizens now live. It would mean no common currency and a return to borders and capital controls… Every system we choose comes with different costs, we have to think about the costs of ‘going back’.

Do we need a new European model? Should we have a European republic of regions? Or should the EU become purely a free trade bloc, without any political integration at all? Can the current systems and structures cope with the challenges we face? What would you change? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: CC / Flickr – European Parliament


88 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Matteo Magnus Magni

    this For build a more united europe
    1)Common defence policy
    2)Common Foreign policy
    3)Euro for all countries
    4)European constitution
    5)Penal laws common
    6)Common Welfare( with German Model)
    7)Admission of New Countries with these standard
    8)Re admission after 2022 like I think of England
    9)Common Health Law
    10)Common Environment Law
    11)Agrrements with China,India and LAtin American countries for avoiding USA
    12)Creation of our internet for not more depending from USA

    • João Machado

      Behold, the 12 commandments! Why not a world government to go with it? Why keep it to the European continent countries? Aren’t we living in the age where physical borders no longer exist, with the internet and globalization and all that neat stuff? Why not…? Seems like the next step in the stupidity run.
      Fortunately, I’d bet my skinny ass that those 12 wet dreams, if the people of Europe have any say on the matter (which they often don’t), won’t ever leave their imaginary realm.

    • Erik Verbrugge

      Common welfare with german model, no, i rather suggest the scandinavian model.

    • Matteo Magnus Magni

      thank you for the suggest you must write a petition at EU parliament

    • João Machado

      José Vaz de Portugal How about some democracy?

    • João Machado

      Matteo Magnus Magni My bad mate. So let’s extend it to the rest of the countries of Europe. Russia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Ukraine… what else…. oh oh! Turkey! Let’s not forget Turkey. I can already imagine a central European government to rule this kingdom. I’m going to rewatch Star Wars for inspiration. Good stuff.

    • João Machado

      Matteo Magnus Magni If that was a joke it would be almost funny. Fortunately, the majority of the people of the countries of Europe won’t fall for that terrible and dangerous idea.

    • Pablo Feder

      No, thanks. Anyone with half a brain doesn’t want to live in a dictatorship under the rule of an organism that no one elected, members of the European Comission only think in themselves because most of them have economic interests so they rule for those own interests. We don’t want people with a determined mind set to impose their point of view to everyone and other countries which have a different points of view about things. We don’t want a government that bans any cultural aspect of the countries that they dislike, and wrecks cultural and language diversity. Also, the USA is bad but a dictatorship like China is good? A dictatorship that treats their citizens like slaves? Trump may be mistaken about environment issues, but he’s doing right about almost everything else, so I hope someone like Trump ruling every country in Europe, we don’t want any useless dictators like the UNO that impose their corrupted vision to the whole world, even less to found them with our taxes against our will. Your idea is doomed to fail, support to the EU is decreasing every year.

    • Stefania Portici

      ancora !? Ma che ti si è incantato il disco ?

  2. Bódis Kata

    The old model gave Europe economic prosperity and peace.
    Recent changes have been increasing the EU’s central political power and we can see how the EU is getting more and more messed up in parallel. This is not a healthy trend

    • Liz Lyz

      You could be one of them one day. Don’t blame them.

  3. Lino Galveias

    we do, one which has people in first place rather than bloody money.
    To those assholes that refuse immigrants… you may have family and friends who emmigrated either way.
    What about all those illegals that invaded american soils and killed natives and now claim it to be their own land and where walls are being built?

    • Matic Murn

      It will happen sooner than later, like it or not :)

  4. Aleksandrs Frederiks Znovs

    Definitely YES! An at first in this model we need no leaders fully sinking in corruption, as well honest attitude to “second sort countries” like Poland, Baltic States etc. – we are same people like you, dear Germans, Frenchmen, Swedes. Thanks!

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      @Aleksandrs Frederiks Znovs
      We are all the same AND we are all different. Some countries in the EU ie ALL Club Med countries are more corrupt than Scandinavian or British Isles countries – I for one do not want Club Med types involved with UK democracy. It only leads to trouble!

  5. Jose Quintans

    Override state governments in the task of monitoring EU funds.
    I know it would be a tough task, but EU would get much more respect (until they forget of course), and love of the Europeans (more durable), and the odds are those funds would have a much bigger impact.

    Regards.

  6. Jerzy Zajączkowski

    The best alternative for EU is an association of independent states, a kind of commonwealth. Union in its present form will not survive. Each nation has its own history, incomprehensible to other nations. People living in one part of Europe consider themselves better than others, or at least think of others as worse. Mutual understanding is only superficial. For those reasons, very close contacts can be sometimes unbearable for people.

  7. Nicolette Ladoulis

    No. If you could stop the brain drain and control immigration, it would be easier to have like minded progressive people to shape the future.EU countries that had colonies have a lot of issues that undermine the Erasmus-ECJ kind of unity you need. The EU should be reinforced to get a permanent seat at the UNSC, seems.

  8. Andrew Potts

    It should represent European interest, it should facilitate cooperation of European Nations, it should not dictate and it should not represent global business interests

  9. Vincent Magri

    No our countries is our countries and europe is europe.Europe must to learn for better future.There are some things good but I think there are much bad and wrong.

  10. Andrea Scacchi

    “Focus on the good things. Trust me, things are good! Taking that away from me, that wouldn’t be healty..” cit.

    • Andrea Scacchi

      And not stupid unic currency without common everything..

  11. Andrea Scacchi

    I think in this very moment less europe is more!
    Since the adoption of euro we have seen nothing but a strenghtening of eu unlected officials on the life of the european. Laws, culture, cultural sostitutions..
    We are witnessing the slaughtering of greece, who’s next? Spain?portugal? Italy? We have seen racism beetween northern and southern european..
    Difference in wages, life , cost of living, fiscal tax.
    But we need to stick to same currency (do you need a phd in economy to think is not the best solution?)
    we have entire nations like germany that refuse to lift their weight and expect a progerman eu policies.
    We still have trade embargo with Russia for no fucking reason beside the us told us to do so. France gov. Bombed libia to eliminate Gheddafi’s ties on italian economy (eni) and now italy in paying the price in terms of immigration.
    Plus we are letting milions of people in which not even share basic common western value (aka science before religion and don’t stone women)..
    Should i go on? O right the use of slavic ppl as cheap workforce.. but not irish this time so…
    Progress?

  12. Dídac

    YES. We need an European Union that listen to its citizens before central governments. We need an EU that looks again to its fundational values, a EU that makes impossible to have political prisioners, an EU that makes its political project the core of atraction for the members to remain. Nowadays, those that defend the core values and pure democracy like UK and Catalonia are not listened. Furthermore, those that jail political opponents like Spain are defended by saying “the rule of law and constitution cannot be violated”, and EU says this without knowing that the Spanish constitution does allow a legal referendum about independence with the allowance of the central government and it does not allow a central government to sack a regional government and call for regional elections. Legally, this can only be done by the regional President. This is just an example of the unconsistencies of the actual speech of the EU, which only looks for defending central government interests and big companies. It looks EU doesn’t realise that this behavior is causing the END, a completely collapse of the EU and this will be worse to states and big companies than listening to EU citizens and regions.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      @Dídac
      Foundational values?

      Like corruption.
      Lies.
      Misinformation.

      NO thanks!

  13. Lorenzo Janulardo

    Bisogna semplicemente abolire la UE e ripristinare gli stati politicamente e monetariamente sovrani. Dopo si stipulerà un accordo di libero commercio che c non intacchi le rispettive sovranità, e comunque rafforzando i dazi verso l’esterno.

  14. Albert Masats

    Yes we need a Europe without political prisoners, were the citizens have fundamental rights.

    • Federico Rossi

      And we need an Europe in witch the political leader respect their constitution.

    • Albert Masats

      I’m not talking about the constitution, I’m talking about the fundamental rights and the judicial independence in Spain.

  15. Benito De las Colinas

    The EU has two choices, it can either become a loser Union, i.e pre-federal or it can become a proper federal state like Canada or the US. What isn’t going to work is the current status quo, where the smaller countries really are not equal partners in the system, where you have different tax rates combined with freedom to transfer capital without restriction.

  16. Kev At Nanox

    Maybe a serious and real green investment as global warming is moving 12 million of peoples from their own countries. Instead of saying yes to all diesel, oil, coal lobbyings etc… Spend more money on education, making sure EVERYONE is paying taxes and maybe if you have some time, looking after the democracy. Maybe.

  17. Antoine Che

    A big kind of European Switzerland might be a good model, but even more democratic… Their system is really interesting to study…

  18. Alexander Caislean Beag

    Europe tollerates political prisoners inside its frontiers. Of course we need a new European model. A model more democratic and made to fit on the size of people. Not to the size of corporations. Why are so many lobbies in Brussells? What shit is this? Why Juncker is not an elected president? I remember european elections and he was not a candidate. Why is he the president? What my vote was for? What kind of democracy is this? Why would we need this kind of Europe?

  19. Craig Willy

    People of different nations tend to have even more disagreements people within a single nations.. There is little common ground on how to go forward – discipline, risk-sharing, EU-level power/democracy – between Germany and France, let alone, say, Finland and Greece. So we are stuck in a suboptimal situation. We must make the best.

    The Indian model could indeed provide a source of inspiration, in the long run. But then, perhaps Europe would have needed a colonizer to unite us, as India had!

  20. EU Reform- Proactive

    YES + NO= Advantageous!

    Is this “European model” theme- or fudged “EU Dream”- being once more (cleverly) thrown into a snake pit by the EU- Commissionaires and its “Missioners”- to test the waters & resistance of vox populi?

    The existing and original “European model” as per the 47 CoE Members is perfectly reasonable and acceptable. It is the EU- in her sheepskin-, who is on a relentless takeover mission using its sweet “economic power”.

    A political, social +++ marriage “in community of property”- as propagated by the EU27- brought out all areas of incompatibilities between their lovers! Rather re-marry using an ANC (Ante nuptial contract) and enhance the CoE47!

    It is disingenuous to ask us time and time again- while these Missioners have accumulated enough data to enable them to present us with revised models- would they be really genuine and acting as “Geniuses” as well.

  21. Ivan Burrows

    The concept of a ‘European Model’ should be abandoned for the idiotic idea it clearly is.

    • Karolina

      I was getting into a panic attack. I thought that the Kremlin trolls had gone missing.

  22. Rachid ELAÏDI

    ce modèle européen est désuet. il faut revoir le traité de Lisbonne et supprimer les accords inutiles tels les accords de Shengen et revenir à la situation d’avant 1984, car aujourd’hui , l’Europe est devenue une citadelle et tout le voisinage méditerranéen a une démographie dont la courbe explose le plafond. Etant donné,les chiffres du chômage des jeunes dépassent tous les scénarios catastrophiques; les dictatures en place n’ont donné aucune perspective car ils existent des connivences avec certains Etats européens et puis au delà de l’Afrique du nord,il y a l’Afrique subsaharienne dont la gouvernance est tournée vers le vol des richesses naturelles et non à démocratiser pour rendre une vie plus agréable du moment que ce continent africain est convoité et par l’union européenne et par les grandes puissance qui ont une arrière pensée de coloniser ,encore une fois l’Afrique puisque ceux qui sont aux affaires africaines ne sont pas des politiques au sens propre du terme ,telle Makhzen au Maroc ou les palais présidentiels dans les 53 Etats et l’union européenne n’est pas en mesure de comprendre ou ne veut pas comprendre les dictateurs africains. les anciens colonisateurs comme la France appui les dictateurs de tout poils et donc ,la France apprend aux autres pays européens de traiter les africains comme des marginaux ,se basant ainsi sur ” deux poids ,deux mesures” ! et l’Afrique comme l’arrière cours . l’Allemagne se révolte contre la France et met en doute le moteur franco-allemand . du coup, toute l’union européenne fonctionne à plusieurs vitesses; celle des pays de l’Est ,des pays nordique et des pays européens du Sud et dont il faut ajouter , les vitesses de diplomatie européenne (en bloc et séparément) avec le monde extérieur…

    • Karolina

      As this is a European debate, it would be good to have a translating tool so we can understand all comments. Thanks.

  23. Любомир Иванчев

    EP and EC need to de-regulate more the common European market in order to allow more competition and make it easier for companies to do business. European citizens don’t need regulations on the form of cucumbers and banans, they need more economic freedom!
    Also – a lot tighter security and stricter immigration policies.

  24. Stefania Portici

    l’applicazione dei principi che regolano la società già scritte nelle nostre Costituzioni e che la UE e la globalizzazione hanno disapplicato. APPLICARE I PRINCIPI COSTITUZIONALI poi parliamo di cosa fare insieme ma prima vogliamo la nostra Costituzione

  25. catherine benning

    @ Rachid ELAÏDI

    You, akin so many others, repeatedly and persistently refuse to accept African and Africans have any responsibility for their own fate. As if they are children in need of special care and treatment. This continent is ancient, its people said to be the forerunner of mankind. Yet here you suggest other parts of the planet owes a living to these ‘inferior’ (to you) minds. They are ‘not’ inferior. Simply not into social development as a method of advancement.

    Trust me, those who are heads of this continent States are big boys who know exactly what they are doing and how much they are getting to do it. Why not take your approach of change to ‘their’ leaders and ask them to join the world of acceptability by meeting the concept of management for population well being.

    This idea that a well run and fundamentally well funded part of the planet must play parent to another profligate part of the world is nonsense. It will reduce the ability to progress as a human species, should your message continue to be adhered to.

    The EU and the European peoples are not either to blame for, or indeed responsible for, the failings of the undeveloped world. Just the way another culture cannot impose their way of life or expectations on those who do not share their views.

    In other words, and simply, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. And absorbing non drinking horses will create a non functioning breed of animal. Result being, destruction of the entire herd.

    The aim always has to be to demand the failing society to alter their system by example and not by enabling any dysfunction through financial support of its leaders without qualifying the requirements of the largesse. Only by demanding our charity sees improvement in the lifestyle of the recipient group or nation should any support be contemplated.

    • Karolina

      Arabs have some of the lowest literacy levels in the world. No wonder they come here to beg for help.

  26. randomguy2017

    Depends on what reform:

    As long as EU (which is not the same thing as Europe)
    is serving or falling to American interests and pressure, I dont care.
    Many fail to grasp how much influence that nonEuropean nation has on Europe.

    Europe has a wide view on politics.
    Clearly Western Europe vs Eastern Europe is different.

    Western European elites think their “liberal” views can be pushed on others
    and if you disagree with them, you are called all sorts of things.

    So why not accept, Eastern European views too?
    Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Serbia, Russia are European.

    Maybe the Atlantacist groups wont like it. Shame on those traitors.

    • Paul X

      “Many fail to grasp how much influence that nonEuropean nation has on Europe”…yes, many more people should remember the influence it has had on Europe… particularly from 1941 to 1945

  27. George

    We need a two speed Europe. Countries that are willing and able to integrate into a fully multifaceted megacountry, with military, education etc and parasite-populist countries left at their current status, minus the financial aid.

    • EU Reform- Proactive

      George, haven’t we got a 2 speed already? The EU & the CoE.
      Isn’t it gear change into “3 speed”- with Pesco?
      How & why can a EU net contributor ever be called a parasite?

      EU’s cock-a-hoop?
      Obviously, the “We need” changed to “We have” & are celebrating!

      This EU “pledge” (Pesco) was signed (“more binding common commitments”) by 23 members on 13th Nov 2017

      http://www.france24.com/en/20171113-eu-defence-defense-joint-military-development-cooperation-pesco

    • Karolina

      EU, agreed. 2-speed Europe is here.

    • George

      Problem is my proidea friend that Poland can not tell other countries what they should do. Poland will be a loose appendix of the United States of Europe, for sure.

  28. Carlos Branco

    Visgard is more european than EU dictatoship. EU is goind down, Visgard will go naturaly up. europeans dislike EU for ever. europeans want Visgard poland hungary are exemple to follow, the EU is not exemple for no one.

  29. George

    EU Reform Proactive: OK than let it be gear 3. Important is that there should be a fully integrated United States of Europe and the rest of countries at varying degrees of integration (and benefits from it too)

    • EU Reform- Proactive

      George, yes, there are “benefits” flowing from economic integration- as was originally envisaged and implemented until the mid 90’s- no doubt!

      The “benefits” in addition of: political, social, fiscal, military, educational +++ = total & final integration of “everything”, including the abolishing of our sovereign parliaments and the quasi “one party” pro EU unity state vision remain highly questionable.

      Such about turn from an “economic union” (EC) to an “EU unity state” requires a new mandate from the total electorate once more- if we believe we live in an advanced western democracy.

      The present one sided EU’s “step by step” approach is highly suspicious and irregular! This needs to be challenged by “vox populi” by all their might they have left!

  30. Boyan Taksirov

    We need a Federal Europe more than ever. This is the only way european way of life, and Democracy to survive. Otherwise european states will be conquered economically, financially and culturally one by one by USA, Russia, China and the rest of the world’s oligarchy. A social order, similar to this in the states, mentioned above, will be imposed to the european countries. That means fake democracy, or no democracy at all, anti social state, corporate rule, huge social inequality, class and even cast society, economic compulsion, mass poverty, degradation of education and healthcare, therefore degradation of civil society and society as a whole and mass manipulation.

    European states, having higher economical and social standards simply can’t compete economically with states like China, where there are a lot of resources, the cost of labor is ridiculously cheap, the exploitation is enormous, no environmental restrictions, therefore the production cost is lower than the european, which leads to economical expansion and acquisition of disunited european economies.

    The only way for the european societies to defy this tendency and remain free is the european states to be united, having a common policy in each field.

    A Federal Europe is a must.

    • Paul X

      Do you not see the irony in your comments…That the defense against all the failings that come with the United States of America can be avoided by creating a United States of Europe?…….in fact re-read through your list and the EU is most of the way there already….”fake democracy” (EU “Elections”)….”social inequality” (North Europe v Southern Europe)…. “economic compulsion” (Euro)..and on , and on…

    • Boyan Taksirov

      Now I hear for the first time the name United States of Europe. If it means the European Union, the biggest resemblance with the United States of America is only the name. Europe is much different than the US, the culture, the policy, the social systems, history, people and so on… A closer union between the EU member states doesn’t mean that EU will become more like the US, just because both states are some kind of an union.

      The social inequality between member states existed before the EU, and exactly the EU existence and its corresponding mechanisms make these disparities a smaller ones.

      The Euro project has flaws, but it is a subject of an ongoing improvements.

  31. Boyan Taksirov

    @Randomguy2017

    Please don’t generalize. I am from Eastern Europe and I totally reject the populist, anti liberal and nationalistic anti EU visions that may be popular among SOME eastern europeans, but definitely not among ALL!

  32. catherine benning

    @ Boyan Taksirov

    Of course I am the first to know and understand ignorance can and often is bliss.

    However, my links are not, as you claim, conspiracy theories.

    The Bilderberg Group is real and very active hive of busy bees. If you read the names of those connected with it you will see they carry a heavyweight of those who either are in office and practice the resulting misinformation they put out. Or are in the wings directing office in some part of the globe. Additionally, they never leave the limelight once they are ousted as leaders. And, if you understand politics as well as you should, it is quite clear these links form the backdrop of what is taking place on a grand scale in our lives. The conspiracy theory you raise is a way to sidetrack the issue away from the psyche of the average citizen by trying to ridicule. A cloak they frequently hide behind. Now why do you think they do that? Could it be because they know their agenda would be rejected forcibly should it be made public?

    Each one of those links fit together. Those who attend each meeting have their feet well placed in all the subversive off shoots. The so called ‘New World Order’ stems from this hidden society of protagonists. Which appear to have excited you to the extent of factual denial.

    One smart politician named it, a fifth column.

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