It’s time to create a new type of European politics. That’s the argument from Professor Ulrike Guérot in her book: Why Europe Must Become a Republic. In her view, the EU we have now is broken, and its institutions are not working. She believes that tinkering around the edges is no longer enough, and we need a completely new institutional framework based on a different democratic blueprint.

The new “European republic” would comprise of:

  1. Civil equality before the law
  2. Political equality in the form of universal suffrage
  3. Shared mechanisms to promote the common good

Debating Europe is launching its new book club! This is your chance to put your questions to the authors taking part! Each month, we will choose a different book and collect your questions and comments, before interviewing the author and asking them to respond.

In May we will publish the responses from Ulrike Guèrot, professor, journalist, and founder of the European Democracy Lab, who will talk about why she thinks Europe needs to become a republic. Now’s your chance to ask her questions about the book!

Here’s a short explanation of the book’s central argument by the author herself:

 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.

Ulrike Guèrot believes the many crises facing the EU – from Brexit to the migrant crisis – can be blamed on structural mistakes in the institutions of the European Union. The European project was designed in the 1950s, and is not fit to cope with the challenges of the 2010s. Is it time for a new model?

Above all, Guèrot argues that nation-states are tearing Europe apart, and she believes that cities and regions should be in charge politically under the institutional umbrella of the new European republic. In such a way, she feels we could create a decentralised, regionally-organised, parliamentary, democratic, sustainable, and social Europe.

Is it time to follow a different European model? Do we need a European republic, with power devolved to cities and regions? Or is there a good reason why nation-states have remained so popular for so long? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll put them to Ulrike Guèrot for her to respond!

Image Credits: CC / Flickr – scot2342

25 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    yes lets drop the neoliberalism, and start working in favour of the general citizen, insted of just the top 5%

  2. avatar

    The initial plan was for all countries to enjoy prosperity so that there would be no reason for WWs and become an example for humanistic values. It is a good plan. But, if we still have nazis in Europe, we have a mentality problem we need to fix asap.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Surely, “name calling”, generalizing, categorizing, labeling, etc to defend one’s own point of view is just as unhelpful to further basic human rights, your “humanistic values” and the “mentality problem” you refer to!

      A different approach maybe- as an “example”?

  3. avatar

    It’s time for NO European model, Fascism, Communism and Europeanism all fail for a very simple reason.Human beings are Nationalist by nature and reject forced solidarity under an antidemocratic political system. A return to Nation State Sovereignty is the future and is only a matter of time.

    • avatar

      One shall not forget that Fascism and Nationalism like to go hand in hand! I don’t think it is as easy as that! Also, you see now a rise of regional identity. How to put that into your boxes?

  4. avatar

    Political liberalism has turned into something that’s intolerant towards other political trends and towards the indigenous cultures. It’s time to call it what it is: a harmful form of extremism.

    Political liberalism and neoliberal economic policies go hand in hand.. thanks to neoliberalism in most of Europe capital benefits more from economic growth than labor.

    Our economy is structured in a way that capital is preferred over labor. It’s time to regain the balance between the two main factors or else this world is going to hell in a handbasket.

  5. avatar

    Are we talking of about the Union of Countries in the European continent or did Europe, already, become a country? Maybe, if we are lucky we can all get another Monarchy to leech from the working class, a single Monarch, like Putin.

  6. avatar

    Interestingly if you look at all the indices which purport to measure “happiness”… will find that the majority of the most contented countries are monarchies!

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Hi Paul, you refer to: a good read! Being in good company! The advantage of “smallness”- it also can work!

      Lets also qualify those “monarchies”- not being absolute- but constitutional monarchies.

  7. avatar

    I read the book and I really like the idea. Europe needs to speak with one voice in an uncertain world. The nations of Europe are too small and unimportant to have a say on the world stage. Look at the growing super powers of India, Brasil and China. We need to step closer together or we will not matter at all in the near future.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      ………….single European nations are to small- agreed! However, the European Union devil hides in the details!

  8. avatar

    Just watching the Joint debate MFF and own resources post-2020 in the European Parliament and they have no intention of allowing anyone to change ‘their’ model. Needless to say they want more of your money to spend on their vanity projects and demanding an EU wide tax on top of the Nations contributions. Enjoy paying it :)

  9. avatar

    Countries have to be United before the idea of a truly United European Union could ever hope to be and the odds of this are becoming more remote. It took a Civil war in the States to form the USA yet the birth of an EU out of blood is an option which seems senseless and remote in this day and age. EU nations may become tighter if Russia gets tougher but theoretically that’s why Nato exists so this dampens any need to compromise one’s individual state identity for something more ambiguous.

  10. avatar

    It was a few years ago. Nothing’s changed so far.

  11. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive


    But- yet another typical (EU) book & lobby club attempt after all- while elected but dumbstruck politicians play head in the sand- because they have sworn an oath of allegiance to the EU, (must) remain “paralyzed” and under the EU treaty spell!

    Suspend the burden of treaties & the EU politicians “oath” during such process! Let all be FREE of prejudice!

    “Why Europe Must Become a Republic” & why woman (aka “Europe”) do everything better? Yet another political fable by indulging in utopia! Many selected issues are however valid but common knowledge. A political team effort is needed.

    Why not invite the group of ALL pro EU political parties together with their lobbying clubs & think tanks and let them design THEIR EU Utopia.

    Separate, another group of ALL anti EU, EU skeptics plus their lobbying clubs & think tanks should design THEIR EU Utopia.

    Both groups (2 only) is allowed a first and alternative “draft Utopia”- to be publicly presented to the EU voting public (once completed) nation by nation and tabled in their respective parliaments.

    It cannot be a single handed attempt by one or the other writer, journalist, politician, banker, voter or utopist- (aka “Marx, JCJ or D Tusk grandeur” etc) but a combined & transparent effort by ALL important groupings- equally.

    “The 28 member EU Congress 2018/19” (“Later” followed by the balance of Europe nations).

    And please- no name calling, grandstanding, dishonesty, corruption, lying, underhand tactics or nerve agent killings!

    Any transgression = summary disqualification & dismissal from such future “EU Congress”- for life!

  12. avatar

    I would never want neoWestern values pushed on my country.
    In fact many Europeans do not want it either.
    And most of the world certainly does not. Just ask all those countries bombed, looted, and so on. You hypocrites even bombed Yugoslavia, now you push nonsense about the ruskis. Any you call yourself pro Europeans?

    Unlikely this will get through, but when EU speaks of “values” they speak of
    authoritarian values favoring:
    a)abortions on demand, b)radical feminism
    c)anticlerical d)antitraditional
    e)pro imperialist f)gender idealogy
    g)antiNativeEuropean pro foreigners
    h)pro-ultrarich (who rarely or never care about average person)
    too name a few.

    I want none of that.
    You want your big governments with their secrecy to do as they please
    you want ultrarich to fund policies against normal people.
    your PESCO army (probably to crusade against Populists/Nationalists/Russians
    all within Europe.

    Ughhh. Why is Europe destroying itself!?

    • avatar

      When modern states are no more nation-state, when black and white, yellow and brown are allowed to have EU citizenship, British, French and German national status, what do you mean by West? How much Western value remains? We are in a global era, in which national boundaries have vanished, citizenship become global and multiple citizenship dominate. This is an reality. Democracy is about catering different interests. This is the model Europe need to create for survival in this new era.

  13. avatar
    John Costigane

    Ulrike is correct in calling for a Republic. There are many possibilities for such a structure. As in the USA, states are varied in size. This can be accommodated in an Electoral College.

    Some of the larger countries will not subdivide as readily as others. These may have special circumstances eg Agricultural, Industrial or Financial focuses which can benefit from large size.

    The first stage should be the election of a President to aid the transformation from EU to USE.

    • avatar

      In my opinion the first priority should be a common electoral law for the European Parliament based on the principal “one wo*man, one vote”.

      First we need Democracy!

  14. avatar

    Ulrike Guèrot is uttering platitudes. Ideologies and blaming on individuals, governments and system have all been blamed. Democracy and people have always been emphasized. Are not Western democracy a political system formulated under democratic principles? When all member states of EU are advanced democratic society, how come democratic leaders/elites create institutions that can deviate from democracy? According to the principle of democracy, political competition is the very action that can drive forward the system towards perfection. What is the problem now EU is confronting is not insufficient democracy but member states are selfish and the union breaks in front of the many crises such as the 2008 Financial Crisis broke out from Wall Street and the refugee influx brought about by Obama’s “Arab Spring”. It is not the hardware problem of the EU institutions. Instead, it is a software deficit. The human thinking failed to overhaul after the old Cold War system has ended. How can old theories be used to explain new things?

  15. avatar

    The over expansion of EU immediately after the Cold War is the root cause of its current difficulties. When too many different newly emerged states with very different sociopolitical agenda carried, integration is almost impossible. The only result is the disintegration. When Europe is troubling with the US withdrawal from the Middle Range Missile Treaty, when Europe is worrying that a third world war would be breaking out as the consequence of the US irrationality, Poland has openly invited even paying for US military presence in its territory and EU boundary. This would unavoidably lead to Russia hostility and retaliation. When an EU member being attacked militarily with its own questionable foreign and security policy, should EU be obliged to come for its aid? EU ought to push forward a collective defence policy and establish a troop that is under the sole command of EU and withdraw its membership from NATO albeit some member states would leave EU, this is the only way showing EU refuses to take part in the US great power politics. Why should European people being dying for the American to become great again?

  16. avatar

    When too much emphasis on individualism, the collective would be difficult to maintain. When collective security is the only way to achieve peace, security and sustainable development in this global era, individuals interest need to be sacrificed to some extent for collective survival and prosperity sometimes. This is the very nature of modern society. Individuals are free to make decision and to act if and only if they do not infringe that of others. This is the way man can survive and prosper till today. This is the difference between a modern society and anarchism. The duty of modern man who wants to enjoy the goods and benefits of being member of a society need to give up some of their freedom. I think this is what Jean Jacques Rousseau’s social contract theory talking about.

  17. avatar

    When a country become multi-ethnic, European nation-states become history. Political competition would unavoidable tear the country into pieces, as we have seen in old democracies representing by the EU. Even worse, EU politicians and parties are outdated, still playing old politics when the international system has transformed into a global system, spearheaded by the multinational enterprises and facilitated by the ICT. National boundaries have disappeared. People are becoming multinational too, many of them are actually holding several passports crossing all national boundaries all over the world. EU is organized for collective security. However, it refuses to work for collective security but collaborate with US populism to divide Europe for the American to become great again, it is suicidal. Any small chaos and conflict happened in the Euroasia continent can develop into large scale world war. Even though we might forget about the two great wars, how about the Arab Spring which has threatened the survival of EU and has led to Brexit? Although the Britain has recovered its sovereignty from EU, it is obliged to hand it over to the America across the Atlantic Ocean, for economic survival. Refugees created by the Arab Spring are still unsolved problems in Europe. In my opinion, a different European model means only a stronger union, and to destroy your common enemy, populism so that EU can make independent and sovereign decision to prosper. More importantly, to use your brain to guide your government policies rather than relying on poisonous “intelligence” shared by another country. Find facts and protect your people from fake news. They are poisoning European people and forcing political leaders to make stupid decision such as the current sanction against China on grounds of unverified genocide of Uyghur at Xinjiang. When Uyghur population has prosper from 5 million to more than 12 million in Xinjiang, the accusation of “genocide” failed to substantiate. Go and have a look by yourself rather than listening. I have been visiting Xinjiang for two consecutive years before the Covid-2019 outbreak. It is such a lovely place. I see it as a big size Swiss. China has already built a very good highway linking Xinjiang with Pakistan. If there is any genocide in Xinjiang, why Pakistan and nearby Central Asia have no refugee problem as in EU? As a matter of fact, In 2019, China’s outbound tourists 134 million with global spending of US$257.7 billion as quoted from Forbes. Why these tourists have all returned to China? Just read the report from the Diplomat, the 5 Central Asian Countries next to Xinjiang have already developed into very big markets and prosper. They are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The region economic prosperity is benefited by very robust trade with China. It is only by increase of national wealth not by promoting hostility and waging wars EU can prosper. ( )

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