Saturday, 13 August 2011

Political fundamentals at root of eurozone crisis

The crisis in the eurozone (and the European Union) gives rise to interesting questions about political economy and economic policy; actually it leads us to fundamental political values and problems.

National governments in the eurozone may be in a state of silence and denial, but luckily freedom of expression exists in the world outside.

Less blinkered than in the corridors of power, people are - to various degrees - edging towards two realisations:

1) Political issues need to be dealt with at an appropriate level. Human rights and fundamental freedoms, free movement, internal and external trade, competition and competitiveness, the common currency and fiscal union, the environment, infrastructure, communications, research and higher education, foreign policy and defence are wholly or partly among the continental-size challenges.

Wise politicians at any level – local, regional, national or continental - do not meddle excessively in peoples' lives, but respect the principles of individual and societal freedom (subsidiarity).

In its current state of evolution, the European Union is the beginning of an answer to global challenges of more rational governance of fundamental issues affecting the security and prosperity of Europeans (and people globally).

Where deficient, the EU (or at least a willing part of it) should become able to protect our vital interests. The institutions need to robust (”energetic”) enough to do the job.

2) Pretensions of supremacy by Popes and autocratic rulers, as well as birthright privileges of nobility, have given way to the general acceptance of the sovereignty of the people (citizens). The road has often been long and hard.

We have instituted democratic government at the local, regional and national levels, but the European Union has only been adorned with certain democratic elements. It is basically still ”owned” by the member states, not its citizens, thus based on indirect democracy.

Twenty seven shards do not make a vase fit for purpose.

This lacuna needs to be filled by a system of representative democracy at federal level.

Naturally, representation and obligations become more complex when only some are mature enough to seek rational solutions, while others (vehemently) proclaim outdated and sterile concepts such as national sovereignty in order to cling to their powers, privileges or habits of thought.

Then, practical solutions have to found in order to allow peaceful progress for those who wish, without harming those who remain behind the curve. But the questions of powers and responsibilities (”no taxation without representation”, and vice versa) become quite complex, when different flotillas advance unevenly.

In the spirit of the Enlightenment – part of our common heritage - we need a combination of rational progress and tolerance.

Ralf Grahn