Our Europe (Notre Europe) by Michel Rocard and Nicole Gnesotto

A very interesting book which deals with most the current European issues.

, by Florent Banfi

Our Europe (Notre Europe) by Michel Rocard and Nicole Gnesotto

“Technically, Europe is not doing well. Everyone knows that.” It is with those words that Michel Rocard introduces this book in which, together with Nicole Gnesotto, gathers twenty contributions to depict the state of the European Union. Without waffle, the different writers tackle the European issues with a simple and straight language.

If the European Union is misunderstood by its population, this cannot hide the positive aspects of its action. European federalism is limited, and - as the French journalist Jean Quatremer explains - the federalist step hasn’t occurred yet. Brussels is not always responsible because in the European Union the Member States keep being at the centre of everything whereas the Union itself has little power and has to stay at the border. In Europe, who decide is still the national States.

But the European Union is not innocent and has a role in all this. Because of its lack of competence, the Commission faces many problems it is not responsible for. As for the Lisbon agenda, which was supposed to transform the European Union into the most competitive area of the world. Most of the competencies required to achieve such goal were in the hands of the States, but the Commission acted as if they were under its responsibility.

In Europe, who decide are still the national States

If we also consider the trend of some national leaders who more and more accuse the European Union of their internal failures, we can understand the feeling of frustration which is currently widely spread among the population.

“Europe, I love you. Me neither.” Daniel Cohn-Bendit

Euro-scepticism in the UK

Without hiding the reality from its negative sides, it is up to Charles Grant to explain why the UK is considered one of the most eurosceptic countries in Europe. According to the author, history, geography and economy in the UK are elements which justify such behaviour of the citizens. But, as in most European countries, the media play a significant role by raising fears and presenting very often an inexact truth.

But who should speak to the media?

The Lisbon Treaty creates a new situation in which leaders shall finally show up. Legally speaking, five leaders could emerge according to Alain Lamassoure: the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission, President of the Council of Ministers and the President of the Eurogroupe. But, at the same time, the one who will have the strongest organisation behind him will be the President of the European Commission. Consequent improvements might be possible thanks to the Lisbon Treaty.

Even if this latter represents a significant step forward, it is not enough. The engine of the European construction, often represented by the French and German couple, is declining. The remoteness of the WWII and the last enlargements have changed the shape of the European Union. The responsibilities endorsed by the two States are getting less obvious as time goes by. Nevertheless, a new project is needed in order to finish what has been started by the founding fathers. Joachim Bitterlich proposes two main solutions to go ahead: Defence and Energy.

But whatever the topic chosen, citizens can play a role, as Jean Quatremer points out: “One can only hope that eventually States, pushed by their people who can, through the European elections, make their voice being heard, and by the geopolitical realities of globalization, become aware of the need to revive the communitarian integration, either at twenty-seven, or at a few.”

The situation is not easy and could be summarised by Bronislaw Geremek, whose book is dedicated to: “It is necessary that two elements be provided: continuity over change and a dialectic between the horizons for long term and short-term objectives.”

Image: Michel Rocard, former French Prime Minister and currently Member of the European Parliament, European Socialist Party; source: www.flickr.com

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