“Europe needs to turn into a republic”
Three weeks after the EU referendum in the UK where 17,4 million of the voters turned their back on the EU such a claim sounds far from achievable and possibly completely utopian. But this could be exactly its strength, when more than now, are we in need for alternatives and fresh visions for a different Europe?
In her recently published book, Ulrike Guérot, professor at the Danube University Krems and board member of European Alternatives sketches out a political utopia: a European project beyond the nation-state.
The way the EU is constituted cannot work and never will. In the past years, several referenda in member states have taken the dynamic of vetoes positioning the member states against the EU.
Following Guérot’s interview in the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung (on 21.06.16) decisions of European scope should be taken by all EU citizens to ensure European citizens become the sovereigns of European policy-making. The crucial point is to define a parliamentary democracy with a strong voice for all Europeans – replacing the current trilogy of Commission, European Council and Parliament. Decisions over issues with a potential impact on all citizens should be decided on by all citizens, preventing that some citizens are more equal than others.
Even though the Treaty of Maastricht introduced union citizenship, it is still bound to national citizenship. Following Guérot, if the idea of union citizenship had been pursued consistently, British citizens would remain EU citizens, no matter if their country exits the EU or not. State-independent membership is still inexistent.
In her vision of a future Europe, Guérot advocates for abandoning the idea that a republic can only be realised within the frame of nation states. Instead of letting 28 unequal national governments decide over the policies of the EU, an EU composed of around 50 regions, would establish a much more equal body, economically and in terms of political power relations. With this, Guérot manages to combine two actual trends: the tendencies of regionalisation on the one hand, and the trend towards more citizens’ participation on the other. This formula might help to keep Europe’s unity on the outside, while providing diversity on the inside.
Vision like these – even though they sound utopian at the moment – are needed in times where pro-european voices are experiencing major setbacks such as the Brexit vote.
- Guérot, Ulrike (2016): Millions of voters didn’t want Brexit. Why should they lose EU citizenship? Published online in the Guardian on the 1st of July
- Guérot, Ulrike (2016): Warum Europa eine Republik werden muss! Eine politische Utopie. Dietz. Bonn 2016
- Guérot, Ulrike (2016): Interview in Süddeutsche Zeitung with Thorsten Denkler from 21st of June