Tuesday, 17 June 2008

More on: Why Europe?

Let the specialists explore vote-weighting, fish quotas, phytosanitary regulations and the like. What people in general need are a few home truths about why the European Union is necessary and why we actually need ‘more Europe’ in some crucial respects, while renouncing regulation overload at the European level.


In the United States, more than 200 years ago, the main purposes of that Union were succinctly put by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist, number XXIII:

“The necessity of a Constitution, at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the preservation of the Union is the point at the examination of which we are now arrived.

The principal purposes to be answered by the union are these – the common defense of the members; the preservation of the public peace, as well against internal convulsions as external attacks; the regulation of commerce with other nations and between the States; the superintendence of our intercourse, political and commercial, with foreign countries.”


There are two fundamental needs: security and prosperity.

The fundamental challenges remain the same, but in today’s globalising world they are even more real and demanding, while the European nation-states are ever less able to deliver on their own.

Sovereignty is an empty shell, if it means that we reject ‘outside interference’, but are unable to offer working solutions.

The European countries have started to come to grips with this dilemma, by joining forces selectively and often timidly.


There are two fundamental challenges:

1. We need modes for more effective European action.

2. Europeans need to understand why.

Our political leaders have invested little in explaining the necessities to their electors. A few cursory remarks and an occasional speech is not enough to shape a needed new vision of the world for whole populations.

The basic challenges need constant repetition. Where mass media do little to educate people – preferring scandal, entertainment or even their own disruptive political agendas – the politicians’ task becomes not only demanding, but almost impossible.

But the political leaders have to make the effort, because enlightening the bewildered populations is a necessary condition for effective action.

One more thing: Blaming politicians is not enough. Our common European heritage tells us that we have the freedom and the responsibility to educate ourselves.

Democracy is, in essence, our responsibility to bear the consequences of our collective wrong choices. But with better choices life can be worth living.

Ralf Grahn