Europe and Its Citizens
More Participation for the European Union
The European Union faces a fundamental challenge within its own borders: Following the greatest expansion in its history, its 27 member states must now work at integrating themselves and their citizens on a scale previously unknown. Ultimately, the EU will be governable to the degree that it is efficient and transparent and accorded legitimacy as a functioning democracy.
Europeans will consider the EU a success if they feel that it has actually brought them closer together in their everyday lives. It’s a tall order, considering that this will require uniting some half a billion people. And if that weren’t enough, millions more are waiting in the Balkans and Turkey to join the club.
Ironically, just when such an effort is necessary is also when the EU’s policies are harder to discern than ever before. Which process is in which stage of development, which goal should be achieved by when -- such details are in fact laid out in summit agreements, even if they are often cloaked in silence afterwards, in keeping with the motto “postpone, prolong, cancel.” Given the complexity of the EU and its various systems, Europeans often remain unaware of what is going on. At the same time, however, they expect Europe to play a larger role on the international stage. Ultimately, post-enlargement Europe lacks a common political culture -- a European identity, to put it succinctly. That is something that cannot be decreed, but must be created instead.