EU as a conflict solving mechanism
El Amein, west of Alexandria, Oct. 25, 1942.
By Ole Aabenhus
The following is a brief of my paper Conflict in Europe, presented at a conference last weekend at Kent University in Canterbury, U.K., organised by the Sonnenberg Association of Great Britain:
Once upon a time, in the post-war period, the EU (then the EEC, European Economic Community) was the appropriate instrument to solve conflicts in a war-torn Europe by replacing war with peaceful negotiations. Now, however, a whole lot of crises – like the euro-crisis, the Ukraine/Russia crisis, the Middle East-and-refugees crisis, the crisis with Greece, the one with Poland, the Brexit, and the general scepticism etc. etc.
One of the deep-going problems is the so-called contradiction between an "elitist" system run by bureaucrats, diplomats and ministers, which made sense in the 1950's when a more open system would have ripped open the wounds of the war.
But today the EU deals with a wide range of issues that pertain to people's everyday life. EU has something to do with every glass of water, we drink, - with your work environment, and even with the symbolic building blocks of our life: marriage, heritage, judicial systems, borders. So, there is an obvious need for a more direct and democratic link between the people and the centre.
The many crises, however, show that decision-making in the EU is very weak at the moment. The key problem is scepticism, and the only solution at hand is more democracy, and the work being done in the My!Europe project, on a declaration on a more democratic EU, provides a lot of building blocks that can fill the gap in the EU – the "democratic deficiency", as it is sometimes called.
National parliaments. One proposal, which is only now being discussed is to give our national parliament such a clear role in the European process. Instead of the "ever deeper" phrase, which very few will defend today, we might say that each national parliament selects a number of representatives - enough to make sure that major opposition parties are also represented - to decide together what should be EU matters and what should be national matters.
This would mean that we as citizens say, through our normal political channels, i.e. our national parliaments: We want to have issues A, B and C solved at the EU level, but D, E, F at national level.
Our national parliamentarians might return from such an inter-parliamentarian assembly: The Commission proposed so-and-so, but this is what we decided, together with other countries. "We met them, talked with them, got around to understand what they meant, explained what we meant, and here we are. We have taken back control".
The full text of the paper "Conflict in Europe / Conflict and conflict resolution mechanisms in a European Union perspective" can be found here.