16. July 2015
The critical negotiations carried out over the past months between the Greek government and the Eurogroup on the future of the financial assistance programme to Greece triggered a discussion that went way beyond mere economic reforms and financial plans. Concerns about the status of democracy in the EU, solidarity and the future of the Union were voiced by many, who fear the consequences that the handling on the Greek crisis will have on the European continent.
In light of recent developments and worried about the future of the EU and its democracy, a few members of FutureLab Europe wrote together the Manifesto Choose European Democracy, Abandon the Politics of Numbers!
Download the publication:
Choose European Democracy, Abandon the Politics of Numbers:
European Citizens Manifesto
This is a call for a united, democratic EU and the acknowledgement that EU citizenship is a political fact beyond economic policy-making. Building a true European democracy is imperative.
Europe is at a crossroads. Having seemingly abandoned the ideals that bring Europe together, the politics of numbers and the absence of truly democratic mechanisms at the EU level have led the eurozone and the EU to the verge of an existential crisis.
A generation that was born before the formation of the EU, but has not personally experienced the horrors of war, that has enjoyed the union’s benefits but has developed little feeling for it – an ‘in-between generation’ – is ‘pulling the strings’.
This generation appears to be lost between the new vision of a truly democratic European Union based on equal citizenship and the old vision of a European Community as a forum for inter-state conflict resolution.
Now is the time to decide between these visions! Now is the time to choose European democracy. This choice is not a question of calculation, there is no ‘evidence’ derived from objective numbers; it is a bold and uncertain step we have to take – based on faith in our values and intuitions.
The Citizens’ Union
1. European citizenship was given to us upon birth and our passport is European. EU citizenship is undeniable.
2. Our union is not an international organisation. It is a political entity legitimised by its citizens and not by ephemeral governments, nor by particular policies or economic circumstances.
3. Citizens and not states are the pillars of our union. We have to reach the point where all our citizens are equal, irrespective of their national background. In such a union, citizens’ welfare must drive the direction of our common policies.
The Democratic Union
4. The EU is the symbol for the dream of transnational democracy: a political community of equals – irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, religion, or social class. The EU as a common political forum in which ideas can be discussed, upheld and agreed upon is our urgent priority. A united and democratic Europe is our goal. It is the only cure to our problems and our problems derive from its absence.
5. True democracy must mean that all European citizens are represented in all decision-making processes. The European Parliament as a representative chamber of Europe’s citizens must be involved in all decisions – including on the common currency. Decisions taken in the eurozone today determine our common fate for decades. Citizens must have a say in these decisions. Direct democracy is the answer as long as we lack full representation.
6. Political parties in our Union should not be based on national partisan formations. EU citizens must be allowed to vote for any fellow citizen they deem worthy, without any national limitations. European parties must be genuinely European. They must not be the vassals of national leaders nor a collection of national party representatives.
7. Transparency is the basis for public discourse and good governance. Fundamental decisions cannot be taken away from the public behind closed doors. Information must be made available and easily accessible, starting tomorrow.
8. European institutions should be built to guarantee that the EU can evolve and accommodate divergent points of view. Disagreements over policy directions are irrelevant to the fact of European citizenship. Quite the contrary: disagreement is at the heart of democratic discourse. It shall not break the Union, the euro, or any constitutional settlement. It must be accommodated by rules and compromises that alternate between winners and losers.
The Union for a Common Future
9. We live in a world that is in a state of flux. Migration, natural disasters, climate change and an ever-aging population are our future and real challenges – and they concern us all. Implementing policies that serve the needs of all citizens in the EU should be the first imperative concern and the only answer to the rising voices of extremism and the nervous reflexes of nationalism.
10. Where redistribution between citizens and states is necessary, we cannot proceed in denial. Citizens and political elites have to acknowledge that solidarity also means to give without asking for immediate returns. The question of “when do we get something back?” is based on the fear of a break-up. It becomes irrelevant if our common relationship is set to last forever.
11. The right of a country to leave the EU is guaranteed and based on the principles of self-determination. Acknowledging this right is our duty to the past. Convincing all of us of its practical irrelevance is what we have to work towards every day. Staying united is the only way to ensure lasting mutual trust.
12. Collectively we have the resources and the skills to be self-sufficient – innovate and create. Our grandparents rebuilt Europe after the war. Today, we have to keep Europe united under a common democratic vision based on EU citizenship – now!