Tuesday 26 October 2010

European Council: Impetus for European disintegration?

The European Council meets Thursday and Friday (28-29 October 2010), but two days ahead of the meeting of the heads of state or government of the EU member states the public information appears poorly structured and incomplete in the light of the published press releases and the old draft agenda.

Yesterday president Herman Van Rompuy defended the proposals of the Task force on economic governance in a speech in Brussels. A few days earlier Van Rompuy had sent a letter to members of the European Council, with the Task force report published 21 October 2010. There is a fact sheet dated the same day.

Otherwise, there was little of substance from the European Council or the Council this morning.


Van Rompuy has rejected the perception that the European Council meetings are summits. He has underlined the European Council as an institution of the European Union

However, for the citizens of the EU, little resembles an institution deliberating public affairs transparently and accountably. What we see from the outside looks like a summit of the leaders, by the leaders, and for the leaders.

It is unclear if Van Rompuy even wants the European Council to evolve institutionally, or if he prefers to nurture a high level workshop in the (vain?) hope of creating an esprit de corps strong enough to overcome great obstacles.

There is also a lack of connection between the conclusions customarily published after (not before) the meeting and the real discussions taking place.


Not even an EU summit seems to be enough. French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel short-circuited the European Union, by making a deal on the stability and growth pact bilaterally. Merkel has certainly antagonised supporters at home and abroad, but her gains look less certain (see for instance Spiegel International in English and Deutsche Welle in German).

(Wo)men and institutions

Jean Monnet is quoted as saying: "Nothing is possible without men; nothing is lasting without institutions."

Naturally, Charles Kupchan was declared to be wrong when he concluded that the EU needs a new generation of leaders who can breathe life into a project that is perilously close to expiring, and that for now, they are nowhere to be found.

What do you think?

Are the current national leaders willing and the European Council as an institution able to provide anything better than top-down impetus for European disintegration?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Technology is changing politics, says Personal Democracy Forum, which has sent missionaries to the scattered tribes on the Old Continent. Between the great powwows (highly acclaimed), Antonella Napolitano regularly reports to US HQ and the world in general through the Euro Roundups on her blog. One to follow.

Despite national and linguistic borders there is a European online public space of sorts. You can find the new posts from 680 Euroblogs on multilingual Bloggingportal.eu.


  1. I believe that Europe needs a new breed of leaders that are actually interested in the next step of integration. The current EU is too fragile and the European Council is currently, as you write, a force for disintegration.

    The raison d'etre for the Union must be to tackle the numerous and monumental challenges that current nation states of European size cannot tackle themselves. It is not a choice or coincidence, societal and technological advances have given non-state actor the size, opportunities and powers that are largely unprecedented.

    The institution of the European Council is by design the core of the intergovernmental compromise that makes sure EU will not be what it could be. To overcome that it would need a number of transformational leaders at the same time and with more and more countries with more and more demands it will become increasingly difficult for the beast to turn into the princess we need.. :)

    Which is a pity and a strong blow against humanity, considering the absence of other successful, non violent, super nation building efforts in the last century or so.

  2. Kallisti,

    Thank you for your comment. If we want the EU to serve the interests of its citizens in a changing world, it will have to change for the reasons you mention.


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