Wednesday 13 May 2009

EU 2.0

I have tried to illustrate different evolutionary stages of the European Union by using the following illustrations:

EU 1.0

The European Union of member states, functioning through diplomats and technocrats. The existing version based on the Treaty of Nice (modified by the accession treaties).

The heads of state or government increasingly see themselves as the nucleus, with the Commisison as a pliant accessory.

EU 1.1

The European Union based on the Treaty of Lisbon. In essence, more of the same but with an improved repair manual. Not much to get excited about, even if the powers of the directly elected European Parliament would improve to a degree. Foreign affairs would be slightly better coordinated than according to the current version. Improvements in justice.

Dumb to promise national referendums and at least as unjustified to require them on the merits of this international treaty among states.

Britain’s efforts to emasculate the Lisbon Treaty and the UK’s four opt-outs place it on the fringes of European integration, anyway.

There is nothing inherently democratic in the veto powers resting in each member state, when 26 have completed parliamentary ratification. The ‘liberum veto’ is directly derived from the primitive rules of international law.

In practice, calling for a referendum is based on a will to wreck the Treaty of Lisbon, pure and simple. The person may be against everything the European Union stands for or he may want his country to secede. In practical terms, the result would probably be an EU limping along under the Nice Treaty, in other words a return to EU 1.0.

EU 2.0

The last days have brought some discussion about the meaning of EU 2.0. Is it release 2.0 as in programme, or is it as in web 2.0?

Julien Frisch and Josef Litobarski have discussed the issue.

The concept of EU 2.0 is far from new.

Let us look at some of Nosemonkey’s thoughts about EU 2.0: Shouting into the storm – and EU 2.0 (7 September 2007):

“It’s time for pro-EU types to start looking rationally at the situation, and to realise that the time to win converts to the cause is long past. Anyone who really wants the EU to succeed in the decades to come shouldn’t be defending the current behemoth of overlapping institutions that make up the thing, but attacking it.

The EU doesn’t need a reform treaty, it needs to be demolished and rebuilt from scratch. Start proposing that kind of radical change, with EU citizens involved at every stage of the rebuild, and the next stage of the EU - EU 2.0, if you will - should actually end up with genuine popular support. Without that support as its foundation, it’s only going to crumble.”


In my view, EU 2.0 represents a Copernican revolution, from a union of states to a union of people: citizens’ vote, EP power and accountable government.

Precisely because the European Parliament’s powers are limited, EU 2.0 or the future of Europe is the most important issue in the European elections.

What do the Europarties and the candidates tell us?

If nothing, you will have to make up your own mind between flat-earthers and progressive forces. Starting to think is the beginning of EU 2.0.

Ralf Grahn


  1. Well said, Ralf.

    The current EU (1.0) is defined by the treaties and by the institutions, and by how they regulate political power.

    EU 2.0 (if it ever happened) would ideally exist both within the institutional framework (i.e. in a more accountable democratic system) AND outside it - in a strengthened and politically engaged civil society taking advantage of new opportunities afforded by web 2.0.

    It seems there is little we can (at least directly) about changing the institutional framework. But we can help to build EU 2.0 outside of the institutions, within the sphere of civil society.

    In fact, this is what we're doing right now.

  2. Josef,

    Discussing the European Union we at least raise our own awareness, and possibly get others interested.

    The two fundamental questions are:

    Why EU citizens need a more effective union.

    Why the EU must become a legitimate system of government.


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