Thursday 22 July 2010

European Union’s Manifest Destiny?

“There is no end in sight for blogging on the high politics of EU fundamentals”, was not an expression of weariness, but of conviction that we European citizens need to reflect on the need for Europe in the wider world and to adapt our means to the challenges.

What The European Citizen called European Theology Season, I would rename European Teleology Season, “telos” being the purpose, aim, end or design of European integration and the European Union (finalité).

The European Citizen continues his style of quality blogging, sharing links to other Euroblogs (Charlemagne, Jason O’Mahony, Eurogoblin and Grahnlaw), before putting forward his reasoned arguments for greater political involvement to decide how we run the EU, and how we can make it work better for those who have lost out.

According to Eurocentric, this requires greater political integration; more pan-European elections that offer a choice in competing policies.

However, even the “progressive” view of Eurocentric seems to accord little weight to the future of Europe in world affairs.

Manifest destiny?

The Americans have had the knack for catchy phrases, so instead of the “telos”, “teleology”, “finalité” of Eurospeak and muddling through, they coined the phrase “manifest destiny”.

Today the European Union lacks a manifest destiny in a positive sense, but if it does not rapidly agree on purposes and structures well above its current ambitions, I am afraid that it will be swept into increasing irrelevance in world affairs - political, military and economic - with severe repercussions for the security and prosperity of EU citizens in the next decades.

An effective union, based on democratic and accountable government, is not a blank cheque for centralised power in all policy areas, only for legitimate rule on issues where an “energetic” European Union can do things better in addition to the Single Market, such as foreign policy, defence, international development, research, environment, economic relations, budget and currency.

I find it disheartening that European leaders and people, by default, seem to regard learning Mandarin and bowing to Asian values as lesser burdens than agreeing on structures necessary to effectively advance European (universal) values and interests at home and in the world.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Even if the Grahnlaw blog and my replies are in English, feel free to comment in Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish.


  1. I agree that the EU needs to be a stronger presence on the world stage, though I think strengthening european level democracy and participation in European politics is a first step. I do think that demos is an important factor, but unlike some anti-integrationalists, I think it is a dynamic thing (and occasionally viewed too narrowly). More participation will help build a broader support base for further co-operation (or at least create a better platform for a wider-ranging debate on it).

    (Another reason why I left out Europe's place on the world stage is that I feel sometimes that integrationalists and anti-integrationalists are talking across each other - one about internal politics, and the other about making Europe count on the world stage. I feel that the integrationalist argument for greater political participation and pushing for the Europarties to connect with citizens isn't as often made. Rather "more democracy" is a "mom's apple pie" topic that I suspect people feel they don't need to make a strong case for).

  2. Eurocentric,

    Just one comment, on "demos". In my humble opinion the EU demos becomes a reality the day EU citizens are given full political rights in a representative democracy.

    I have little sympathy for "Blut und Boden" myths.


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