EU, spell out internal disagreements 

(originally posted as a comment at Margot Wallström's blog)

It is a sad political moment. Two types of reactions should be distinguished:

1) What would we like to happen next? It seems pointless to proceed with ratification. Neither will France and the Netherlands overturn such big No-majorities in a second referendum, nor is there now any chance for a Yes-vote in the UK. DK, CZ and Poland also seem rather unlikely. Therefore the procedural improvements over Nizza - voting rules for example - should be secured by a different, much less ambitious treaty, the constitutional treaty as such should be put on ice, to wait for a better day.

2) What can we realistically hope to achieve? Some proposals are unrealistic, for example the idea of a Europe-wide constitutional referendum. How could this possibly be 'communicated' in countries that have scheduled their own national referendum already?

All this talk of listening to the population - how can that actually work? Proceeding more slowly would be wrong - in some cases self-damaging (Lisbon agenda), in others unfair (further extension). Yet I agree with the section of sean's comment above where he writes

"It is now apparent that various countries want various kinds of Europe. The attempt to build a kind of superstate on these shaky sands of compromise is what has led to this disaster; you can no longer square the circle of France versus Britain, old Europe versus New, south versus north etc. You can certainly no longer hide behind obscure phrasing in treaties to fudge these issues, as you have hitherto done."

I believe that we need the courage to spell out the internal disagreements and accommodate them institutionally, even though this will always favour the side that wants less integration. But without doing so, there is a lack of honesty towards the population, for example towards those left-wing opponents of the constitution (decisive in France) who think that much more EU-wide harmonisation of taxation and social policy is a realistic option. Ambiguity of goals is a deadly premise when we want to let the people make the decisions.


Hamma gsehen, wasfür ein Sauerei der Volltrottl Gaugg jetzt auf sich hat?


Nietzsche: 'God is Dead' - Netherlands (et al.): 'Europe is Dead'
Just as the bystanders in the market-place smirked in amusement at Nietzsche's madman as he ran around in broad daylight holding a lantern and asking where God is (for they no longer believed in God), voters in Europe can expect to be approached by their politicians and asked what they have done to Europe. Of course, the governments know exactly what has been done -- Europe has been killed, and they have killed it. But as the story goes, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. For, in its current form, the EU has encouraged the illusion that there are particular truths (promoted as universal) that all must accept. So like God (as construed then), Europe as currently conceived is dead -- which actually translates as meaning, not Europe per se, but the current understanding of Europe is dead. The idiom about a baby and bathwater comes to mind here. The madman was last seen heading East of the Elbe, next stop, Poland?

Jordan Seidel
Warsaw, Poland

No comment from me on Gaugg, really, I have my limits.


If there were no particular truths that all can accept, albeit it only procedural ones, then we could not have a democracy:
"Such a society can be well-ordered by a political conception of justice so long as, first, citizens who affirm reasonable but opposing comprehensive doctrines belong to an overlapping consensus: that is, they generally endorse that conception of justice as giving the content of their political judgments on basic institutions; and second, unreasonable comprehensive doctrines (these, we assume, always exist) do not gain enough currency to undermine society's essential justice." (Rawls)
Disappointment merely leads us to be even more pessimistic about the extent of that overlap than before.

According to Sam Huntington: “[T]he fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.” I agree with you that an overlap is needed...the question is whether or not Europe's internal overlap (i.e. integration) should be along the lines of interests or of values?

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