Saturday 28 June 2008

EU: Unable to make decisions

The English blogosphere has addressed the latest public statements by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing with its customary narrow outlook, missing both his analysis and his suggestions for the future of the European Union.

Here are a few missing links from the L’Express interview with the former chairman of the European Convention (26 June 2008), but first a link to the whole interview, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing : « Il faut adopter le traité de Lisbonne »

Giscard d’Estaing’s analysis is that the institutional life has paralysed Europe for a long time. The problem is not what the European Union decides, but the fact that it does not reach decisions. Europe lacks true leadership, although Angela Merkel appears to be a genuine political leader in Europe.

The 27 leaders who convene four times annually are incapable of making real decisions.

According to Giscard d’Estaing the key to change is democratic. There is a need for responsible actors and the great decisions have to be taken democratically. Evidently this means qualified majority voting instead of unanimity.

The Lisbon Treaty has been ratified by 19 states, which represent 70 per cent of the population of the European Union.

One can deplore the decision of the Irish, who have said that the Lisbon Treaty does not suit them, although it responds to many of their demands.

Europe should handle only the questions for which our countries are too small. International trade, the money, competition, the great environmental problems, the defence of the European continent, these are for Europe. The rest is not!

It is up to the Irish government to think about a possible re-vote. The Irish are uneasy pro-Europeans. They should be reassured, not bullied. (If the Ireland does not ratify the Lisbon Treaty) negotiations are needed with the aim to let the other countries approve the treaty and give Ireland a special status, if that is what they want. It would be a British style development.

The situation has to be solved. The Irish can refuse to apply the Lisbon Treaty, but they can not take the rest of the Europeans hostage.

The coming European elections should look to the future. Should the European Union be a political entity defined by its institutions? Should enlargement continue, or is a pause called for? Should the powers of the EU be extended or (the present ones) respected? I hope that the citizens vote in June on these questions, because the future of 500 million people can not be built on diplomatic negotiations. We do not live in the times of the Holy Alliance anymore.


Readers of English anti-EU blogs tend to get a skewed picture of continental discourse on European integration. Learning languages and finding original sources offer independent means of understanding the real European Union better, both its merits and its shortcomings.

Enlightened citizens make for better politics.

Ralf Grahn

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