As the days go by after the No vote in the referendum in Ireland on the Treaty of Lisbon so more articles and statements emerge, asking questions about the future direction of the EU. Today David Marquand (in The Guardian) and Robert Kagan (in the IHT) have penned articles asking how Europe can view its role in a globalised world if it cannot even manage to get some basic institutional changes approved. Scarily I find myself quite in agreement with Kagan’s article – and he’s an adviser to John McCain.

Mark Leonard’s think tank, the European Council on Foreign Relations, has also weighed in with a statement about the EU’s role in the world, signed so far by 43 heavyweight political figures. Problem is that among the 43 only 3 are women, and the average age of the 43 of them is 59 (DoBs for a few were not available, but you get the idea). So while it might be a think tank with a nice smart logo and young boss, the ‘ideas’ come from rather traditional sources.

So, however reasonable Kagan’s or Marquand’s arguments might be, and however much experience ECFR’s heavyweights have, what chance is there that any of this comes to pass? That politicians will be bold and brave in their leadership, persuading nervous populations of EU countries that they need not fear the future? I worry it won’t happen as these commentators, just like Brian Cowen or José Manuel Barroso, are too much part of a political class that is failing to connect on EU questions presently.


  1. not saying I agree or disagree on this, but thought it was interesting…

  2. Nick,

    “political issues today are becoming larger and more global in scope”

    “The European Union exists because the necessity for it to exist, exists.”

    You old historicist!

  3. Exclusivity of political issues contained within national boundaries are decreasing as political issues today are becoming larger and more global in scope. This is especially true when it comes to trade, environment and security. The European Union exists because the necessity for it to exist, exists. If it didn’t, then something exactly like it would be created in its void.

  4. Central Scrutiniser,

    Yes, democratic governance is, in the end, the best system available.

    Let us spread it to where the crucial challenges for Europe lie, at the EU level.

  5. Central Scrutiniser

    Introducing the changes necessary for a Europe of 27 or more is complicated enough without linking it to an ambitious extension of competencies. So no surprise that the heavyweight federalists are wheeled out to predict doom and gloom on the world stage, as though Europe is paralysed without Lisbon.

    In reality Brussels continues its work largely unfazed by the political doom mongers. Civil servants are forced to come up with more imaginative solutions to diplomatic problems and, although it might take longer and some things won’t get done, Europe will emerge fitter and more able at the end of the day.

    Democracy offers very poor value for money – until you compare it to the alternatives!

  6. Casuistry. Climate change is a global problem. The appropriate decision making level is global….you suggesting that we’re going to be sharing sovereignty with China anytime soon? International terrorism ditto. Local public transport schemes can be and are dealt with at local authority level. “Federal Britain” would have the local transport scheme for Penzance decided in Bristol, hundreds of miles away: as Federal Europe insists that jam recipes are decided in Brussels.
    No thanks.

  7. Stuart Neyton

    Tim, giving power to Brussels is not about losing sovereignty, it’s about taking decisions at the appropriate level. Climate change and international terrorism cannot be tackled at a national level. Local public transport schemes also cannot be tackled at Westminster, but in regional assemblies, which is why we need a federal Britain within a federal Europe.

  8. Marquand offers us a choice. First, give up freedom and liberty to Brussels so that a self-selecting elite can posture on the world stage. Second:
    “remain a fat, rich political pygmy”.

    I’m for the wealthy, obese and vertically challenged group myself.

  9. The need for EU reform is undeniable, but no PR gimmick in the world can compensate for the lack of real EU level democracy.

    The citizens of the 21st century are ill adapted to the ways of the Holy Alliance, and it is not the citizenry that needs adaptation (although a fair amount of education).

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