Sunday 30 November 2008

Europe: Dismal trends 2025

European security and prosperity 101 or the Why’s of EU reform, courtesy of the United States of America.

This is what the European leaders have failed to grasp, to agree on or at least to communicate. It is also the reason why the anti-EU campaigners are completely wrong and why the euroscepticism or indifference of large segments of EU citizens is contributing to our declining prospects.

The US National Intelligence Council (NIC) report Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World (November 2008) speaks plainly about the problems facing Europe (page 32 to 33). This is the opening paragraph on Europe:

“Europe: Losing Clout in 2025. We believe Europe by 2025 will have made slow progress toward achieving the vision of current leaders and elites: a cohesive, integrated, and influential global actor able to employ independently a full spectrum of political, economic, and military tools in support of European and Western interests and universal ideals. The European Union would need to resolve a perceived democracy gap dividing Brussels from European voters and move past the protracted debate about its institutional structures.”



I agree that the European Union needs to become a cohesive, integrated, and influential global actor able to employ independently a full spectrum of political, economic, and military tools in support of European and Western interests and universal ideals.

I also agree that this is the rhetorical aim of a fair number of the current European leaders and elites. But in the real world the expanded European Union has become even more unwieldy and weak where it matters.

What used to be the “French paradox” – willing the results without willing the means – has become the general state of affairs in an increasingly intergovernmentalist European Union.

The greatness of the US Constitution and the explanatory Federalist Papers lies in the (rough) correspondence between the objectives and the means.

Time and again, the national European leaders have baulked at giving the European Community (European Union) the means to enhance the security and the prosperity of European citizens.

How did our leaders respond to the European Defence Community and the European (Politcal) Community? How did their ‘vision’ manifest itself, when they received the Spinelli draft Constitution? How did they act at the European Convention and during the preceding and subsequent intergovernmental conferences?

Instead of real powers, where they count, the national political leaders have sought to preserve their own playing-grounds while tinkering with institutional EU reform. They have shown every sign of wanting to put the protracted debate about EU institutional structures behind them, if they manage to get the Lisbon Treaty into force, but the Treaty of Lisbon falls glaringly short of making the European Union a coherent world player.

The current treaties and the Lisbon Treaty are the European Articles of Confederation, not only with regard to the insufficient powers, but because of the lack of democratic legitimacy.

The problem is graver than a ‘perceived democracy gap’. The so called double legitimacy of the European Union, primarily founded on member states, but with sops to the citizens, is artificial.

Real powers require real democracy. It is as simple as that.

Naturally, we can continue to debate whether the national leaders in Europe have failed to grasp the obvious, or if their efforts to communicate their European vision have fallen flat, or if their overriding concern is to preserve their own prerogatives.

The existing EU reform treaties, the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty are what the European national leaders have managed to agree on and the ‘vision’ they have communicated. These are the facts on which we as citizens can judge.

In my view, the NIC report ascribes to the current European leaders and elites a vision they simply do not have.

The fact remains: Only profound reform can arrest and reverse the decline of the European Union in world affairs.

There is no room for the unanimity rule – the liberum veto – if we EU citizens as a whole want safety and prosperity in the 21st century.

We need a European Union based on its citizens, an elected European Parliament with general powers and a politically accountable executive.

I invite the current European leaders and elites to communicate and to enact this vision.

Ralf Grahn

US National Intelligence Council (NIC):
Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World (November 2008)


  1. I totally subscribe to your point of view.
    Even if I believe the American report to be too pessimistic about European prospects, the current state of Eu politics is indeed abysmally depressing.

  2. Igor,

    Welcome back and thank you for your comment.

    It feels sad to have to be pessimistic about the future of the EU, because ultimately it concerns the future of us EU citizens.

    You may have noticed that Julien Frisch and Simon Lluma have posted about the NIC Report.


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