Saturday, 22 December 2012

What future for Europe?

My essay "Pressing juice out of the Brussels cabbage - Poland and the European Union" appeared this week in the dossier "Europe – the final countdown or resurrection time?" on the website of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung office in Brussels.

Advocates of political federalism suggest that the major problem is the old-fashioned attachment to nation-states defending their dubious sovereignty, which, however, is a misperception. Nation-states and European institutions are playing the same game (of austerity), i.e. no transfer of power between these two „levels‟ is actually supposed to change anything. By focusing on nation-states, advocates of political federalism evade the real issues such as the shifting balance of forces between capital and labour, the internal trade imbalances and the dismantling of social security nets in many European countries brought about by austerity. In the present situation, a political federation would only further empower European leaders and technocrats who already proved incapable of creating a broader and bolder vision.
[A] way to create a more perfect union would be federalism, but not a purely political one. We need to put first things first. And the most important challenge is not a transfer of power, but the reclaiming of citizenship. In recent years, many Europeans saw their social citizenship diminished. It must not be so. If the Union is to survive, it must protect and enhance social rights already gained by people in the framework of nation-states, not to destroy them. A genuine social and economic federalism must start with another „transfer‟: the definition of social citizenship on the European level. What rights and entitlements should every European citizen enjoy? What level of social security is the Union obliged to deliver?
When we begin with citizenship, the rest will follow.

[Read more]

Adam Ostolski

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