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


81 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

      José Polish so I’m told, but then I like Chinese food and drive a Japanese car but that doesn’t make me Oriental either.

    • Tadeusz

      “Polish” name with “v” inside? Ekhm… I don’t think so 😂

    • Ivan

      Tadeusz Like I said its what a Polish guy told me, personally I couldn’t care less. Your obsession with my name is strange though, do you really have nothing to offer the debate about the EU ?

    • Tadeusz

      Nobody has an obsession with your name. It’s literally one comment asking if it’s Russian and my correcting that it’s certainly not Polish as you thought.
      What I would rather call an obsession is you commenting under every post of Debating Europe and shitting about the EU in every possible way. The ammount of your comments everywhere really doesn’t look normal. It really looks like full time job rather than just contributing to the debate.
      No suprise people look for your connections with Russia. There is no other power that would like to weaken EU so much as Russia

    • Ivan

      Tadeusz The first part of your post was just more of the same nonsense while the second just shows your ignorance
      .

      The title of the page is ‘Debating Europe’, not Debating the EU.

      But thank you for showing your hatred of free speech, its rather refreshing when a pro EU fanatic admits he’s a Nazi. :).

    • Steven

      Ivan don’t start imposing your distorted view of history and reality on to other people and selling it for the truth. What do you think, that we’re completely stupid? The silent majority still rules and I refuse to be dictated by the loud minority like you. The only thing that should be rightfully dismantled is your brain.

    • Ivan

      Steven Selleslagh The ‘silent majority’ didn’t even bother to vote in your pointless MEP elections in 2014 and given the overall vote will fall while the vote for anti EU MEP’s will increase you pro EU fanatics are divorced from reality again. Don’t be surprised when an anti EU group becomes the largest group in the European Parliament and ‘appoint’ someone like Le Pen as Commission President. Now that will be funny lol

      As for the question of do I think you are stupid ? If you think you pro EU fanatics are the majority & want your pointless EU then you are either misinformed or yes, stupid, I will leave it up to you to decide which.

      https://www.thelocal.fr/20160330/france-home-to-more-eurosceptics-than-the-uk

    • Ivan

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

    • Michal

      Dont be affraid. Soon your beloved little kingdom dissapear. You want a war with Russia? Ok. Dont expect Union citizens to die for your crowned old hag (of course democratically ellected) 😂

    • 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.

    • Paul X

      Unfortunately it seems we are going to have a couple of years “transition period”….. so as long as my taxes are still being leeched by the EU I’m perfectly entitled to come on forums like this and complain about it

  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. George

    Why do you need stronger political union? it is a joke of the day?

    • Bódis

      Federalisation creates a more unified market. It reduces the cost of bringing mass products to the market (more profit for the owner capital investment groups). It’s also easier to convince 1 federal government than 28 individual governments of the “necessity” to have a “smaller government” and privatize or liberalize sectors that currently belong to Europeans: health insurance, health care, drinking water, public services, etc. Farmland will also be a target.

      In the end it’s all about the usual things: obtaining resources, markets, and transport routes.

    • Steven

      You don’t even understand what it means.

    • Ivan

      Steven Here’s an idea. Ask the ‘people’ of the 27 EU member States if they want your EU federation; ? I doubt that they will.

  5. 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!

    • Ivan

      Solidarity is given, it is not demanded or written into meaningless treaties, There is no solidarity within the EU and there never will be,

    • Michalis

      With political union you will have more chance to safeguard solidarity in many grounds. It will be for sure much better that what we have now.

    • Ivan

      Good luck trying to convince the people of 27 Nation States to join an EU federation while you enjoy life outside of it lol

    • Costas

      Yes you would say that

  6. Roger

    A “stronger ” EU means we all go to war not just France. So not interested. We Irish had enough of that when we were in the British Union.

    • Adel

      Yes to Sharia 👌

  7. Georgia

    The only thing that EU needs its a good burial. We are not ready for a union with so.much conflicts going on and such uneven economies between north and south. For sure we dont need a Germany to control our lives!!!!!!

    • Barry

      Why? They’re very good at running things, you know. Why not countries, too?

    • Ivan

      The only thing the EU needs is a footnote in the history of Europe that reads ‘ Here lies the EU, just another stupid idea’.

    • Storan

      Ya they tried doing that twice before. Didnt really pan out.

  8. Harry

    The eu is nothing but a German dictatorship. Germany rules Europe, without firing a shot . TIME FOR IREXIT EIREAMACH

  9. Στέργιος

    Of course… this must had preceded the economic union… But it’s still not too late. A common army and common referendums are the base of a stronger political union.

    • Ivan

      I like the idea of a ‘common referendum’, it would kill the the EU empire once and for all. :)

  10. Debora

    No Europe needs stronger politicians this stupid left is destroying the good civil life Europe created.

  11. Andrei

    No way…..not this kind of political union…where France and Germany propose something and the other must to execute. ..Ashley, this kind of politics destroy the European Union. …..In fact, this union is very far from what was supposed to be. ….

  12. Tsilimigras

    EU needs to organize the economy around Europeans…. Stop organize Europeans around Economy…

  13. Σεραφείμ

    Say no to the Germany – france dictatorship, say yes to national sovereignty and every people’s rights to free choice and will!

  14. Vangelis

    This New World Order EU must be destroyed and Soros,Merkel….and the rest company should go to jail.
    Europe belongs to the european people not to the New World order mafia!!!

  15. Allan

    No.. I am also a US citizen and Dutch.. I am proud to be a citizen of the Netherlands..
    In the US most of your laws are dictated to you bythe federal Government. Not by my birth state of Montana.
    Working in common union is good of the nations not st the wealthy who buy their laws.
    Simply put I am proud to be a Citizen of the Netherlands, I am proud to be a native Montanan. I am proud to be part of the European Union.
    BUT I am ashamed of the Corrupt war mongering dictatorship the USA has become. For Sale to who are able to pay the politial contributions ( bribes ) to the politicians and lobbyists

  16. Theo

    No tell them to break it up and every country needs to be free .

  17. 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!

  18. Gustav

    I often hear complaints that the EU lacks in democracy, because of the commission. But wouldn’t increased democracy mean a stronger union?

    I’m not sure this would sit well with the smaller member states.

  19. 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.

    • jthk

      You have seriously misunderstanding. I have just pointed out that we are still in the transition from the old bi-polar system and a multi-polar system, which is a highly unstable system and conflict is heighten. Hence, collective effort is required for collective security reason. As the global political economy developed, economic well beings of EU citizens cannot be secured without forming a stronger political union.

      An organization is like an organism, it will grow and mature and also die. There is no reason why political integration should be clash with the “high values” of the EU. Economic integration would naturally lead to political integration because economic development needs political means to achieve. Equally, all sorts of human rights cannot be secured without collective effort. No one is talking about to dictate anyone. Do not confuse.

    • EU Reform- Proactive

      Jthk, that sounds like extracts from theories of the “global political economy” or “neuroscience” textbooks.

      Let’s leave the many (futuristic) “theories” aside, remain current and avoid “serious misunderstandings”. The world is complex enough and the many “international relation” & other theories make it even more confusing for everyone to make head or tail!

      What is easier to explain and to understand is that future scenarios in the West are driven by a select few, mainly the super rich who subscribe to “Philanthrocapitalism”. Not by us- the dumb & divided multi party electorate!

      All have a “personal”(undemocratic) vise “collective” (democratic) agenda- which is supported by their massive profits made from their global activities- through “whatever” fair or unfair means.

      This allows “them” to FUND think tanks, select & employ people, institutions, universities and give bursaries on a global scale. It opens smooth, easy & direct access to the political decision making processes.

      A few of these billionaires: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg. These economic powerful people decide our political & economic future- not the elected regional, national, or supranational politicians. They ALL are influenced, partly co-opted and act as messengers for these billionaires and their ideas.

      China’s success rest on their evolved system of: ONE Politburo, ONE National agenda, a ONE party system of ~1.4 bio united people and ONE super strong Capitalistic economy but for time being- a delayed” Human Rights agenda.

      Does the West, the EU wish to copy or undermine China’ success? Too late!

      As long as our multi party politicians “over estimate” themselves, rig or smartly circumvent the electoral processes- their entrusted political power has to be restricted- not enhanced!

      That however is only the beginning of the story- & my end!

  20. Trond Davidsen

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

  21. Bert van Santen

    No ofcourse not.
    Since the EU started in 2002, all achievements of the EC, have vanished.
    Talk with people from Greece, Italy or Portugal.
    They`ll tell You all the same story, how the politicians and banks distroyed the common strengh the EC once had.
    The politicians need to return to thinking together how to restore the common feeling about the EC. Not about their own careers in “Brussels” like Rutte does.

  22. corrado Pirzio-Biroli

    What a good idea to answer quesrtions and views about the EU! In my view there is less lack of information about the EU then lack of public interest and credibility in politics (at all levels), as sound bites (and fake news) call for more attention than substance and the attention span of most citizens has dwindled. The iPhone and other digital devices have reduced true societal cohesion and income differentials have skyrocketed creating distaste for politics, which is run by the strongest lobbies and often also corruption. Diminishing support for the EU is the mirror image of diminishing support for national and even local politics. If one cannot tackle the problem of an increasing materialistic and capitalist (incl. state capitalism) societies,and the EU cannot somehow take the lead to counteract that where M.S. cant, how is it possible to increase support for the EU?

  23. Erich

    Whar has to be done?
    The EU is so attractive that more and more countries want to join. eg: Western Balkans States.
    1. The Brexit is a stupid pushover, based on the stupid Art. 50, which has to be abolished immediately. The British Parliament must stop negotiating for leaving our Europe or prepare a real plebiscite like 1973/1974 instead a simple interrogation like in 2016. Ms May wants to cure this formal defect with a pseudo authority of the Parliament.
    2. A stronger political union is the best aim for all Europeans. Immigration has to focus on the Europeanised world, like Latinamerica and Anglo-Saxon America, or Australia and New Zealand and Eastern Europe.
    3.European plebiscites should be a main instrument for the legislative branch, Similiar often used like in Switzerland!.
    4. EU is the basic for homogeneity of all our peoples. Any sequestration of any european citizen now or in future must be strived against.

    • Gerhard Kaiser

      I am a strong supporter of the European Republic. The EU is hardly more than a platform to coordinate national interests. That is not enough. I can explain in detail but I wish to comment quickly on your Brexit remark: Actually i was saddened by the Brexit vote and this populistic referendum (all referendums are welcomed by right and left wind parties because for them it is a dream come true. There is not better arena for populists. Direct democracy through referendum paves the way to suppression of minority voters and opposition in parliament).
      BUT from hindsight Brexit is a gift for the rest of Europe. Only without the Brits can we reform the EU. Smaller is oftentimes better. And I guess two decades down the road, UK will join what is then hopefully a European Republic or at least a reformed EU.

  24. Gerhard Kaiser

    No, we need no stronger union but a European Republic. The EU is in its present form merely a platform to coordinate, and at times, to harmonize European NATIONAL interests. We must overcome nationalist thinking. We have to become a truly united community and that can only work in a European Republic. We need strong border control, we will face are mass immigration from Africa and have to defend ourselves against it. The Do-gooders claim the moral higher ground and so would I but we have to be realists. We need ONE European army, a strong one lest USA and Russia and China dictate our fate. We also have to support economic weaker region to close the gap. With great disparities you cannot reach democratic and ecomic unity.
    Makes me angry that European politicians, in particular German ones are so devout towards a mentally sick autocrat like Trump. Europe is since 2000 years a blessed and rich continent, source of the most important philosophical movement that change the world more like anything before: The Enlightenment. We are not the “old Europe” but at the forefront of future. Environmental movement, personal liberties, social welfare, facing and solving superannuation of the population. And the EU, were it a true nation, would be the strongest and biggest economy in the World. People tend to overlook that.
    The EU can never unite Europe truely, we need the European Republc, maybe not all 27 countries can or shall participate but only a core of countries/regions which are also fit for one currency (The Euro is not currency but many national currencies with an identical name and some guidelines to balance disparate national interests and economies).

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