There are many problems with the European Union. But that doesn’t mean the EU sucks! Quite the opposite!
The main one is that we take it for granted. Even the euro enthusiasts giving speeches during the Pulse Of Europe, even those old enough to remember the atrocities of war or the reality of divided Germany, say that they need to constantly remind themselves: the peace wasn’t always there, the free movement, free trade – that was was built quite recently, it still is being built, and it requires our effort to continue working.
We got so used to all the good stuff that we get from the EU, that we don’t appreciate it enough anymore. The Brits apparently seem to expect their free trade with EU to continue even after they leave. They seem to forget that peace in Ireland is a result of both parts of the island being part of the same Union. Everybody wants to keep all the benefits, without supporting the thing that is actually the reason for those benefits existing in the first place.
The other problem with the EU is that we don’t elect its leaders directly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not supporting Farage, who always complains about the “unelected officials”. Because, well, they are elected, democratically! Indirectly, but still. Just like, for instance, many prime ministers are, including in his own country. As a matter of fact, he should rather complain about his own queen, the truly unelected official!
But the thing is, European Union consists of 28 vastly different countries, with diverse cultures, languages, traditions and political scenes. What is acceptable in a single country, isn’t necessarily OK in a union of 28 of them. If you elect the parliament and the parliament elects a PM, being most probably the leader (or a puppet of the leader) of the winning party, then most citizens are fine with such a process. If you, however, elect a leader, who then goes to a foreign country, sits with 27 other leaders, speaking different languages, and they elect the President of the European Council – that seems foreign, strange, and out of your control.
There can be no real sense of European unity, politically, if such joint decision happens behind closed doors, between some officials. When the election to one of the highest offices in the EU happens, but you have absolutely no say in that – why would you feel connected, why would you feel responsible for our common politics?
Right, right, we do directly elect some European authorities: the members of European Parliament. But are they really our European representatives? When I lived in Poland, I could only vote for my Polish MEP, now that I live in Germany, I’ll be able to vote only for my German MEP... How is it a single legislative body, when everybody represents their own country?
For comparison: Germany, a federal country, admittedly does have the Bundesrat, where people represent their own Bundesland (federal state). But it also has the Bundestag – with direct representatives of the German people. It also has nation-wide political parties. Something that the EU lacks.
But there is hope! There are some plans to create a a single European constituency after the British seats become vacant. Fingers crossed for the initiative!
For an institution that has such a big impact on us, the European Union seems oddly remote from our reality, and strangely underappreciated. For such a great unifying force, the EU still seems so strongly divided.
Let’s change that, my fellow Europeans!