Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Philosophica Nasalis larvatus follow-up

A couple of responses to my lengthy, deliberately pretentiously-titled explanation of my attitude towards the [tag]EU[/tag]. First from a fellow [tag]pro-EU[/tag] type, Nanne of DJ Nozem, who has a slightly different – yet broadly similar – take, and argues

“The things that characterise the EU are no longer about whether the power lies in [tag]Brussels[/tag], or with the Member States, or trade-offs between the increase of power and the decrease of independence implicit in pooling. Rather, the EU has created new models which encapsulate power in networks, or regimes. The control over certain topics and decisions is no longer in the hands of individual Member States, but it has not been transferred to a supranational state — it is made part of a cooperative process… The [tag]European Union[/tag]’s future role should be to coordinate, facilitate and enhance these various cooperative networks.”

And then comes the [tag]anti-EU[/tag] Chris of Strange Stuff, who reckons that what I am “basically saying [is] that with enough reform the EU could become something good, just as with enough plastic surgery I could become Miss World”, before arguing that significant reform is so unlikely as to be all but impossible:

“Only by getting rid of these two assumptions about the role of the EU, that the EU deals in the minutae of life and once it starts regulating an area only it can regulate that area, are expunged from its culture can any reform towards a more localised EU be seriously contemplated. But they are what has made the EU what it is today, they are deeply rooted into it’s structures… The problem is so deeply rooted that it cannot be removed without the complete destruction of the EU as it currently is and then beginning again from scratch. If you want to save the EU you have to destroy it.”

Which all sounds fair enough, basing your take – as Chris does – on how the EU has mostly behaved in the past. Personally, though, I maintain a vague hope that the current shifts towards [tag]deregulation[/tag] under the [tag]Barroso[/tag] Commission may be the first tentative steps in the right direction.

Update: Another response from the anti-EU Ken of EU Realist which in places misses my vague distinctions between the actual EU, the hypothetical EU of the founders, the hypothetical EU currently – seemingly – envisaged by most pro-EU types, and the hypothetical EU envisaged by me. But considering how rapidly I wrote the thing, that’s hardly surprising. (What is surprising, however – in fact, it never ceases to amaze me – is that people are still bringing the visions of [tag]Jean Monnet[/tag], formulated half a century ago after the most devastating war in history and in the shadow of imminent nuclear armageddon, as if they were somehow still valid, relevant, or being acted on… I find this particular ongoing anti-EU [tag]conspiracy theory[/tag] bizarre to say the least…) He does, however, make the very good point that, when it comes to the EU,

“there is absolutely no mechanism available for the people to change the direction because the people have been decisively omitted from the very beginning”

On which, I imagine, more at a later date. He is, however, pretty much right on that one.

But – my dear anti-EU chums – remember this: nine times out of ten when I’m positing reforms of the EU, I’m fully aware that said reforms are highly unlikely to happen with the way the thing currently works. But it’s really no less unlikely than the UK pulling out of the union…

And in any case, if the only way to reform the EU is to start again from scratch then I’d personally have no problems with that – a good spring clean is often far better achieved by simply chucking everything out and keeping your fingers crossed that you don’t mislay anything of importance. Hell, if they get around to it I may even offer them my services as Dictator for Life. (Actually, sod that, “Emperor of Europe” has a nice ring to it…)

Update 2: And another, from the (generally) pro-EU MatGB of Voting Taktix, who notes:

“The EU cannot be a truly functioning democracy, because it lacks a demos… it has become used to being a consultation of the elites, a 20th Century top-down form of democracy. Given that the UK still suffers from this problem, is it fair to critique and blame the EU for a common problem? …Both the UK and the EU need genuine, democratic, decentralising reform. In order to get it, we’ll need to work together to wake our politicians up.”

Which in turn reminded me of this old post on democratising the EU, like wot I wrote back in June 2005, and still mostly agree with.


  1. Frankly, I think the EU cannot move in the right direction with the current institutional framework. It must be radically overhauled to look like a proper federal system, rather than the clunky, dirigiste 1950s-style bureaucracy it is.

  2. It would be great if Mr Barroso could start some serious deregulation, but wasn't that also supposed to have been part of the Lisbon Agenda as well? I would like to be convinced, but it will take some convincing.

  3. I'm pretty much with Marcin; a proper, minimilist, federal system; decide on the powers the centre should have, give it democratic, direct, accountability, and let it get on with it. The current bureaucratic muddle is awful (and I would've dug up your old aunt analogy about the CAP as well if I'd time.

    I think the problem Chris, is Barroso would like to deregulate (at least I hope he would), but the institutions lack the power as countries have the veto. Could we expel the French d'you think?

    It needs to be properly democratic, with autonomy over its limited areas, then it can regulate, or deregulate according to the democratic will. Currently, it acts as a consociation (and I'm so glad I look that word back up) and doesn't care for democracy.

  4. Yes. How to get it, I wonder? Anyone know of sympathetic movements in Europe?

  5. I first heard about what would become the EU from Donald Dewar half a century ago. He reckoned then that it would take 20 or 30 years to get to a single currency, EU foreign policy, embassies, and defence. We are still 20 or 30 years away from some of that.

    I think Europe will get to where Marcin wants, with the more federal structure Donald Dewar envisaged, one day, but I don't expect to see it myself. At least the problem is recognised, the next generation may work out what to do about it and the one after that implement it.

    Sadly, that's normal.