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A Green Progressive Vision of Europe

by Mercedes Echerer, Austria, Per Gahrton, Sweden, Caroline Lucas, England, Patricia McKenna, Ireland, Ilka Schröder, Germany, Matti Wuori, Finland, Members of the Greens/EFA Group of the European Parliament

Joschka Fischers proposal for a European Federation has the benefit of forcing all kinds of politicians openly to take a position on basic issues about the Future of Europe. However, we, the signatories, Members of the Green Group of European Parliament, have some problems with his ideas. The overwhelming question is: How should we organise the European continent in order to promote peace and contribute to the struggle to replace the present neo-liberal kind of globalisation with a genuine worldwide internationalism? How should we as Europeans act in order to create a socially equitable and ecologically balanced world under democratic and decentralised governance?

First, the proposal that a "core" of EU Member states should establish a Federation without taking the wishes of other Europeans into account, just when another dozen European countries are awaiting rapid EU-membership, seems to be a prescription for a new partition of Europe. Only a minority of the nations of Europe will go ahead into the full-fledged EU-state, with President etc, that Fischer proposes. Some are not prepared, others are not willing. Even the very pro-Federalist French newspaper Liberation, which immediately hailed Fischers proposal as a move to "exclude the No-sayers" (16/5), a week later had to admit that probably only 6 out of the present 15 EU-countries were ready to go ahead (23/5). And Slovenia´s president Milan Kucan in a speech to the European Parliament complained that Europe is already divided in four classes. Fischers method would make that division deeper and permanent. The basic issue is: Should EU be reformed in order to fulfil the ambitions of Robert Schumann and "federalists" of to-day - or should the EU reform in order to make it possible for all of Europe to participate on an equal base? We believe most Europeans would prefer the second option, otherwise Europe will remain divided for a lifetime and even the present EU will be cut to pieces.

Second, we doubt that the present EU could act as a political counter-power against neo-liberal dominance by transnational business. The Treaty, which cannot easily be changed, is profoundly anchored in a monetarist economic philosophy. EU often in practical trade relations, acts more like the World Bank or IMF towards partners in other parts of the world, than as a representative of a new world order. EU demands in trade agreements etc upon East and Central European applicant countries as well as upon the Third World are similar to those from other parts of the rich North: market access, investment protection, deregulation, privatisation, etc, without social or ecological considerations. EU at the WTO-conference in Seattle did not act very different from the US towards the poor of the world. Thus, although we actively, as MEP:s, work to make the EU policies correspond as much as possible with Green and internationalist values, we are convinced that in order to make EU an instrument for such aims very profound changes are needed, not the least a basic change of the whole set up, rules and criteria of the EMU. Therefore, an indiscriminate strengthening of EU structures today might have counterproductive effects from a Green and internationalist point of view.

Third, we are not sure that a strong and armed European Federation today would contribute to world peace, even if that might be the honest ambition of Joschka Fischer. We are not convinced that the present rapid militarisation of the EU will become the first example in history of a major world power, which intervenes militarily in other countries only to protect high ideals and humanitarian values. As a matter of fact documents at the EU Council in Lissabon indicated that the area for EU military interventions could be the whole world (annex 4, "Elaboration of the headline goal") and other documents found by the Danish daily Berlingske Tidende state that the scope of the EU military capacity is to "defend European interests", including economic and territorial interests (12/5). As there is obviously no intention by the present EU leaders to put their emerging EU military capacity wholly under UN jurisdiction, we see a clear risk for a world of competing "crisis managers", such as US, EU, Russia, China etc - a situation which might end up in major collisions and strife.

We think that the EU should contribute to world peace primarily by non-violent, civilian means (including a European Civilian Peace Corps as recommended to the Council by the European Parliament on proposal by the Greens). If military interventions are considered unavoidable they must take place under the auspices of the UN, according to the Charter. The final goal must be that the UN or - concerning Europe - the OSCE, takes the responsibility to act, when needed, as a kind of "international police", because, as Le Monde has observed, the motivation of NATO or other countries or alliances "even when under UN auspices, might not be exactly the same as those of the whole of the United Nations" (24/5).

By the way, an opinion poll last year (published as Eurobarometer) showed that the support for joint EU defence decisions has diminished after the Kosovo war in all EU countries except Italy, Belgium and Portugal - which shows that the common reference by some EU politicians to a "popular" call for a militarily strong EU has no firm basis in reality.

We are not surprised to find progressive, left-minded, Green, politicians and intellectuals calling for European actions to counteract neo-liberal globalisation and establish a democratic countervailing power to the rude and anarchic rule of international capitalism. But we are somewhat surprised when we find some of these friends mixing their dreams with reality in such a way that they postulate that the EU could be easily transformed from part of the problem to part of the solution without profoundly changing the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties and the whole "euro-centric" thinking that is so strong among leading circles in all EU institutions.

We believe that the best would be for the EU to start from scratch with all of Europe participating in a democratic way. This would mean something else than continued Intergovernmental Conferences, but also something very different from establishing a Federation by some "core" states.

A very positive aspect of Joschka Fischer's proposals is that he wants to replace the stepwise, covert procedure of Intergovernmental conferences - the Monnet method - with a real "constitutional process". But how can a constitutional process be genuine if the end result is pre-decided by an accomplished fact, established by a political elite? Why not dare let the people decide the shape of Europe of the 2000s? Why not start a Pan-European debate from scratch in order to find out the optimal democratic structure that is strong enough to cope with genuinely common problems, but decentralised enough to make people feel that they participate and multi-polar enough to avoid all risk that the structure might be abused by Power Politicians for "Euro-nationalistic" superpower games and militaristic adventures.

Weitere Texte zum Themenbereich:

"Why Switzerland should not join the EU" - English Versions of the Articles in the Swiss Left Wing Weekly WoZ
A Green Progressive Vision of Europe
Brexit: how Ireland was used by EU to make Brexit as painful as possible for UK
British Trade Unions against the Euro
Citizens’ initiative and referendum in Britain and Northern Ireland 2007:
Democracy and Internationalisation
EU campaign aimed at young people in the UK
European Unification and the Rise of Corporate Power
Independence or Empire? Ireland and the Nice Treaty
The Economist Survey of 21.12.96 about "Direct Democracy (and Switzerland)"
The Forum for Direct Democracy - who we are
The History of Direct Democracy in Switzerland, by Kris W. Kobach, law professor at the University of Missouri (Kansas City) School of Law. (pdf-document)
The Netherlands: a century of struggle for democracy
The quotation of the year (1998)
Too Close for Comfort – Norwegian Experiences with the European Economic Area (EEA)

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