The proposal put forward by the European Commission – the 5 potential scenarios – is a step forward for the European debate and a moment of realism much needed in the current context. Engaging with the European citizens and stakeholders in an open, participatory, and transparent way is key if we are to address the long list of problems which have shattered the trust in the EU future.
Despite the comprehensive description of the five scenarios, a major question is only briefly tackled: how do we genuinely engage with the European citizens? How do we convince them to share their opinions and be part of the debate? How do we move beyond the idea that the EU is the heaven for bureaucrats?
The European debate is too much centered on what the member states want and treats the citizens as a second-order problem. When the evolution of technology has transformed the political interaction, when it is easier than ever to contact a representative or a government, the EU should rely more on the voice of the people, by finding the right approach. This is not a populist stance, but a realist one, driven by the objective to put a stop to exactly the rise of the populist trends, to come with an answer to the disenchantment people feel towards traditional, mainstream parties and approaches. The democratic deficit issue is still around and any scenario that seeks further integration should take this into consideration.
The future of the EU is a serious conversation and it should project hope and optimism. At the same time, it should address what everyone in the EU is thinking: how do we correct the negative aspects brought about by globalisation, automation, and robotisation? how do we ensure the faith in progress, the faith the young generation? How do we fight against inequality, given that, although the differences between countries have reduced, the intra-country inequalities are bigger than ever?
My plea is for going beyond the big strategies and for thinking about how we align goals, tactics, and resources. I am sure that the majority here opts for more Europe, for a more responsive Europe and for a citizen-focused EU. We should work more on the implementation part and to see what is keeping the EU from reaching genuine progress. Designing the implementation plan is not a technical endeavour; it is as political as the Juncker 5-scenario plan is. If I can add a final point, I would say that we should recognise the political dimension of our current predicament: we need more dialogue about values, principles, and ideologies, not less. We need more politics, more debate and less fake or forced consensus.
Sergiu Boghean, LYMEC Bureau Member (Trainings Officer)
This text was originally prepared as a speech on the Future of the EU and the 5 scenarios at the “Brexit and the Future of the EU” event organised in Sofia, Bulgaria on July 19, 2017.