September 2, 2008

English summary

This April issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to the 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaties.
The opening article is by György Schöpflin, a Member of the European Parliament from Hungary, who says that “in effect, the EU, having initially been legitimised by elite commitment and rational design, by economic success and stability, was not constrained by the requirements of popular legitimisation. This is where the problems of 2007, the 50th birthday year, are most acutely visible.” According to him, while the current troubles of the EU can be most immediately traced to the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty in the French and Dutch referenda of 2005, these votes were simply evidence of a much deeper crisis in its design and structure.

This April issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to the 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaties.
The opening article is by György Schöpflin, a Member of the European Parliament from Hungary, who says that “in effect, the EU, having initially been legitimised by elite commitment and rational design, by economic success and stability, was not constrained by the requirements of popular legitimisation. This is where the problems of 2007, the 50th birthday year, are most acutely visible.” According to him, while the current troubles of the EU can be most immediately traced to the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty in the French and Dutch referenda of 2005, these votes were simply evidence of a much deeper crisis in its design and structure.

English summary

This April issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to the 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaties.
The opening article is by György Schöpflin, a Member of the European Parliament from Hungary, who says that “in effect, the EU, having initially been legitimised by elite commitment and rational design, by economic success and stability, was not constrained by the requirements of popular legitimisation. This is where the problems of 2007, the 50th birthday year, are most acutely visible.” According to him, while the current troubles of the EU can be most immediately traced to the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty in the French and Dutch referenda of 2005, these votes were simply evidence of a much deeper crisis in its design and structure. Numerous questions need to be answered, such as: what should be the balance of power, authority and legitimacy between the EU institutions and the member states; are the member states ready and willing to accept the need to give the EU more control over its own legitimacy, meaning stronger direct links with Europe’s citizens; what, in fact, should be the linkage between the EU and its citizens; if the member states do not take steps along these lines, can the EU do anything to compete with them?
According to Schöpflin, Europe has to engage with the changing world, meaning that it must find answers to the impact of globalisation. Also, Europe has a role to play in the cause of democracy. In response to these two aims, Europe could establish as a principle the need to make globalisation answerable to democracy. This would have major resonance on both left and right in Europe and would certainly appeal to those citizens who feel that their future is clouded by fears of “natural” and “inevitable” economic forces over which they have no control and which are transforming their lives without their consent. Schöpflin regrets that none of these ideas found their way into the Berlin Declaration.
His views are partly shared by Quentin Peel, the international editor of the Financial Times, who acknowledges that the Berlin Declaration was a lowest common denominator text, which did not touch upon the tasks challenging Europe. But, he argues, the declaration itself was less important than the fact that the anniversary gave everyone cause to pause and reflect on the extraordinary success story the EU has been. According to Peel, the biggest success, at least since the Rome Treaties, has been the recent enlargement that reunited the continent. He regrets that the leaders of the EU did not explain it as such, but instead allowed populist worries about immigration and jobs to gain ground.
He suggests that the biggest danger facing Europe is that it may turn into a protectionist bloc. “We invented globalisation, open borders, global trade. We need to continue believing in those things and moving on,” he says, and states that Europe’s role in the world is to demonstrate by example how to conduct very close international co-operation very well.
A contrastingly pessimistic view is offered by Dutch researcher Jeroen Bult, who claims that the bitter truth is that the EU member states have no common interests at all.
Also in this issue, Dr Julia Laffranque explains the origins and essence of the Rome Treaties and other acts of EU legislation and their impact on Estonian laws; and Tony Lawrence, a researcher at the International Centre for Defence Studies, examines why the EU, an organisation whose roots lie in the search for lasting peace in Europe, should be developing an increasingly robust military capability. He maintains that ESDP is not the result of a grand strategic design, but has developed in response to a range of lesser institutional and geopolitical pressures; nonetheless it is a valid and necessary component of today’s EU.
In an interview with Diplomaatia, Stefanie Babst, a Deputy Assistant Secretary General of NATO, explains the relationship between NATO and the EU. She characterises it as “somewhat schizophrenic” and puts the burden of the blame on the member states as they, rather than the staff of the organisations, have the power to make the relationship work.
The sociologist Juhan Kivirähk analyses people’s attitudes towards the EU and notes that there is a great deal of satisfaction; in all the new member states, people have seen their lives improve since accession.
Finally, Indrek Ibrus, a doctoral student at the London School of Economics states in his essay celebrating Europe that it “is the possibility to enjoy the things one loves.”

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