Welcome to the first Debating Europe book of the month! Each month, we pick a different book and interview its author, putting questions and comments to them from our readers on the topic of the book.

Our book of the month for April is “Slippery Slope: Brexit and Europe’s Troubled Future” by Giles Merritt, founder and chairman of our sister think-tank, Friends of Europe. In his book, Merritt argues that Brexit has hastened Europe’s decline, coming at the same time as rapidly-developing economies, particularly in Asia, shift the global balance of power.

To halt the decline, Merritt argues that Europe must take steps to establish a real political union (which includes much greater transparency and democratic control from citizens) and push for a pro-growth agenda, with a massive pan-European investment plan and with the European Central Bank given beefed up powers to promote jobs and growth.

What do our readers think? We asked readers to send in comments and questions for Giles Merritt, and had a fantastic response.

First up, we had a comment sent in from Paul, who thought Merritt’s book advocated a “typical Europhile” solution:

Image of a citizenMerritt is a typical Europhile who believes the solution to the EU is more political union, more centralised power, more money, etc. What they all fail to grasp is the main problem with the EU is that it makes no effort to justify (to the general taxpaying public) the powers it has and how it spends the money it is already given…and until it does, it will always be seen as just a profligate, elitist, protectionist club which adds no value to anything it does

How would Giles Merritt respond to that criticism?

You can read the article Merritt refers to on the Friends of Europe website. Next up, we had a comment from Cecilia, arguing that the EU focuses too much of its energy and attention on its most-educated citizens, alienating many people:

Image of a citizenEurope should take more care of the ones who aren’t enrolled in university. We’ve made the Erasmus programme to build a new generation of European citizens, but we forget that half of the youngest generations will probably never have access to a degree.

What about the ones who stop their studies before or those who are too old to have the chance to travel with an erasmus programme? I think that we have to take care of them if we want Europe to be closer to its citizens, but I also agree with the book, more Europe is needed.

What would Merritt say to Cecilia’s comment?

Next, we had a comment come from the creatively-monikered Randomguy2017, who took issue with Merritt’s argument that Europe would need to rely on immigration in order to sustain an ageing population. Instead, he suggested an alternative solution:

Image of a citizenReturn to family values. Increase the birth rates (not via immigration). Less Liberalism. Less Grand Orient values. Less wars. Less abortions, improve the economy for the people (not the elites). Allow free speech of opinions which some may not like.

Would this work as a solution? How would Giles Merritt respond?

Finally, we had a comment from Alexander, who agreed that Europe needs greater investment, but believes that means scrapping EU agreements on debt and deficits. Here’s his comment:

Image of a citizenRemove the EuroPlusPact directive to start with. Invest in Europe’s population ensuring them the best possible working conditions and benefits.

We are in Denmark suffering greatly under this directive and EU resistance is growing because it motivates our politicians to cut down on our welfare system and cut down on our flexicurity model.

We feel attacked by the EU due to this directive and we have reached a red line soon which might ignite into heavy EU resistance if ignored and we used to be very pro-EU.

How would Giles Merritt respond?

Does Europe need a stronger political union? How can it deal with an ageing population and keep public debt under control, while still investing in the future and supporting the economy? 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: (c) / BigStock – weyo


17 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Ivan

    The only way it could be strong political union is if a single political ideology is forced on people, which is what Brussels is attempting to do.

    Pro EU fanatics have learnt nothing from their history and are destined to repeat it, we can only hope the antidemocratic EU is dismantled by the people before it inflicts yet more misery on an unsuspecting public.

    • Ivan

      Nobody wants a USE so how will you achieve it, though war ?

    • Adrian

      For you brits it will. You’ll be out of it.

      In fact why are you even here still?
      Why are you ALL ( Paul X-files, Tarquin the troll, Christine the Alexa Jones, Ivan the terrible ) here ??

      You’ve got your result. UK is going bye bye.

  2. John Costigane

    The EU has to become more accountable, otherwise its errors will recur. An elected President should be the first step, though his/her power would have to be shared with the Council for a period.

    As for the aging population, we should all work longer, retraining as required. I am a boomer, from the most favoured generation, and feel we owe the other generations our best efforts.

  3. Franz M

    In a way yes:
    First we should decide definately what fields the EU is responsible for. Afterwards the EU (Kommision, Paröiament, a new elected body represanting the regions/natiln states) is deciding alone without the national gouvernments.

  4. EU Reform- Proactive

    Sorry, but whenever the EU or an EU proxy like “Friends of Europe”=another ex journalist Giles Merritt “-promoted by US “S&P Global Marketing Intelligence” mixes EU & Europe into one “belly p(l)ot”- warning lights start flashing!

    The origin, credentials, paymaster & repudiation have to be established first- before lending a serious ear. If impossible- one should be forgiven to remain eternally suspicious.

    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sp-global-reveals-new-integrated-operating-model-to-power-the-markets-of-the-future-300571563.html

    A joint idea by a community of nations should be promoted by such community directly, transparently & honestly- without the use of “reputation” management companies etc.

    Lately, several (ambiguous) organizations did hit the headlines & met its “maker”- like UK Bell Pottinger.

    https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/companies/analysis-how-bell-pottinger-met-its-end-in-south-africa-13127573

    or “Cambridge Analytica” & face book-

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/12/technology/privacy-researchers-facebook.html

    One senses that the whole (democratic) voting population is being manipulated by too many opaque entities!

    Time to think and plan your future at home- not to be outsourced to others!

  5. Adrian

    1. FISCAL UNION
    You want Germany as a hub and the euro then the OTHER Countries who do poorly need to be FUNDED to create an equilibrium.
    Gree in the shitter and Germany spending billions is NOT a stable model.

    2. KICK the UK out without a deal ( we must show that we are willing to take a hit to defend the UNION against treacherous instigators and nay-sayers

    3. MORE transparency with directly elected representatives. And yes the commission needs to be fully elected. DIRECTLY.

    4. Decisions need to be no longer unanimous ( exceptions being serious matters like : war, diplomacy, foreign policy of the EU, etc )

    5. we need politicians who think of the EU as their HOME< not X or Y country "uber ales".
    This is Britain;'s problem right now. And this is why they must suffer in the cold a bit to regain their senses.

    • EU Reform- Proactive

      @ Adrian (Limbidis?)

      to 1) Fiscal union- it doesn’t exist. Speculation.

      to 2) To “kick” an EU member out is pure legal fiction with no basis in reality. However, any member might get “frustrated” enough by the EC/EU & their think tanks and “withdraws” on their own accord to seek a different concept or union.

      https://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/9736/can-a-state-be-forced-to-leave-the-european-union

      to 3) “……“directly elected representatives….” The numerical biggest voting block or country= Germany + France = wouldl dominate the EU. Should Turkey one day join- Erdogan & his AKP- considered as “the hope of the Islamic World”- would sooner or later dominate the EU.

      What would the inevitable consequences be? Bigger market, supply of cheap labor- more profit- all harmony- or what?

      to 5) “Home sweet home”. All EU VIP’s are “made” to swear an oath to the EU. Are there any more ways to “bind” a person + their conscience to feel at home in their new home? They “severed” all loyalty to their old home (country) with that oath!

      On closer inspection, similarly frightening thoughts are harbored by Mr. Giles Merritt, like:

      * to vanquish all populists (“kick them out’?).

      * suggests the EU requires more African manpower to counter aging of the EU population and cover snowballing pension costs.

      * stands for banning referendums- other than for personal and trivial matters.

      * wants to speed up integration (how?), Eurosceptic populism (“the old world democracy”) is hampering new “EU democracy”.

      * maximize the media & more journalists etc to promote the good life in the EU by spending (our) EU cash on commercial advertising etc.
      Just some samples of “friendly EU” ideas” from one friendly think tank!

      Facit: seems most EU voters & national politicians are considered too uneducated, uninformed, not forward looking, not part of the wise & journalistic fraternity class to construct a compatible & lovable future Europe (incl Russia?)

      Frightening & scary indeed! Has the right to self-determination been abolished?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-determination

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      @Adrian
      Oh err – democracy is clearly NOT your friend!

  6. jthk

    Stop talking about rights and self-determination when EU is at the midst of the transition of a changing system from a bi-polar Cold War system to a multi-polar system of the global era, in which the single superpower has been trying to maintain its global dominance with its military might to save itself from economic breakdown due to its unrestrained printing of dollar by forcing the world to share its social, financial, economic and military burdens. At this moment, the hostility of the US towards Russia has already forced Russia and China to develop a closer alliance for security reason. It is very clear that the US is trying to collapse Russia before going back to China. At this critical moment, the world system is highly vulnerable. What Europe needs is to prevent the recurrent of a bi-polar Cold War system in which the world “peace” is maintained in a balance of terror and fear of mutual destruction or destruction of mankind. Real global peace can only be built upon a multi-polar world, in which states ought to take care of the socio-economic well beings of their own people, while joining hands to confront problems of the global nature. When threats to mankind is in a global scale, how can small European states survive without a stronger union?

    • EU Reform- Proactive

      @ Jthk- Hi there!

      “Stop talking about rights and self-determination…………..?” Why? Because you or some wish to dictate to others? NEVER!

      The EU was not created to change the world from a bi-polar to a multi-polar global system, but its original aim was ending the bloody wars between its neighbors, and to create a Common/Single Market- the EEC. This was basically completed by 1999. Every one should know that by now!

      Any deeper political integration can be construed to clash with the high values of the EU: namely its own Human Rights Charter which is based on the same Purposes and Principles as the UN Charter (see Articles 1&2) The referred self-determination principle is strongly embodied in Article I of the UN Charter.

      No Nations can be dictated to or be hood-winked out of it by the EU to wave all such rights (many are gone already) in order to create a “multi-polar” world. For who’s benefit? Absurd!

      A strong united “Economy” was & should remain the buzz! That was why the electorate originally voted to “opt in”.

      All European Nations were & are sovereign nations- not like past colonies who never were and struggled to regain these rights! The attempt of EU political overreach would reduce such inherent rights by transgressing another set of democratic principles: the implementation without asking the national electorate! Isn’t the EU “losing” its direction & purpose?

      By contrast- the EU “allows” China to destroy the EU market (its own “assets”) by e.g. allowing the award of infrastructure contracts (“Silk Road” & others) to Chinese State owned companies who are using their imported subsidized Chinese labor, plant and materials (steel) at dumping prices. Nobody can beat China in the EU or Europe!

      It is the absence of strong EU intervention which creates a new Chinese economic bi-polar world- followed by its military might- not an US one.

      China is embarking on an aggressive, $300-billion plan to become nearly self-sufficient by the year 2025. And than?

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      @Jthk
      The difference between the USA and Russia is simple.

      The USA tries to dominate countries by stealth, if not wealth and sometimes strength BUT generally speaking its citizens’ quality of life is on a global comparative basis good. Occasionally, the USA approach helps create ‘diamonds’ like Japan or South Korea.

      Russia does the same as the USA re dominating other countries in similar ways BUT does NOT create any ‘diamonds’ and impoverishes its own people health-wise, longevity-wise, wealth-wise, culture-wise and democracy-wise.

  7. Trond Davidsen

    This is EU-populisme. EU-fasism. The Strong Dictator as the savior. Spooky.

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