“Why Trump Can Safely Ignore Europe, Its Leaders readily condemn but never act” Jeremy Shapiro, Director of Research at the European Council on Foreign Relations, writes, on May 15, 2018 in Foreign Affairs. Does Shapiro just convey the usual Trumpish anti-European propaganda? Or does he rather pinpoint a symptom of European helplessness, its inability to find a common voice, its unwillingness to strike bold actions.
European Associations Did you know, that if you want to set up a transnational European sports club or a transnational association fighting for climate change, you can’t do this under European law? Whenever citizens come together to fight for what they believe in, they have to do so under national law. That makes it incredibly hard to be effective on a European level, but it also means there are no common standards across Europe, leading to potential corruption, tax and liability issues and huge amounts of bureaucracy. All of which, if you think about it, are a fast and reliable way of silencing citizens, who want to stand up for their rights. Now the bizarre thing is, that if you wanted to start a European business, profiting from coordinated rules and procedures you could do so under European law. But once again Europe’s lawmakers seem to have forgotten who should be at the very centre of it – You! The citizens of Europe.
European Parties Let’s get back to our young enthusiastic Europeans Giovanni, Maibrit, Catalin, Susanne and their friends all over Europe. Let’s hypothesise they want to set up a pan-European party legally acknowledged in the entire EU. You think this ought to be possible? We do too, but unfortunately, it’s not! In our example, Giovanni has to found his party in Italy, Maibrit hers in Denmark, Catalin in Romania, Susanne in Deutschland and so on, being able to stand only in their respective countries. And only under extremely complicated conditions, and after years of electoral success, might they be allowed to join forces and acquire a Europe-wide legal status. Although even then, you could still only vote for the Italian party in Italy and the Danish one in Denmark. Is that still democratic? And is this really the way we expect people to discover their passion for our European project? Certainly not. And that's why we want to change it.
European Elections Every five years all 500 million of us go to vote the European Parliament (EP). Those elections, often termed as the European elections, aren’t actually that European when you think about it. Each country runs its own national election and in the end the results are added up. So again, as a resident of a country you will only be able to vote in that country for whatever parties are running in your country. As such we continue to elect the best Italian, Dutch or French politician to lead us rather than collectively choosing who we believe might be the best European to lead us into our future. We want to change this and turn the EP elections into real European elections. After all, we do want them to be accountable to all 500 million of us.