Citizens of the EU: How to Forge a Common European Identity - News - International
Many feel that if the EU is to survive, residents of its 27 member countries need to develop a stronger sense of a common European identity. But is it even possible to forge a European nation? The continent’s leading thinkers have plenty of ideas, but national governments are reluctant to give up power.
Europeans are searching for an idea: What should the Europe of the future look like? Could a federation of European nations function? How could a working government in Brussels be structured? And could a continent-wide democracy foster unity and solidarity among European nations? In a three-part series, SPIEGEL reports on new plans to restructure the European Union. This is Part 3. Be sure to also read Part 1 and Part 2.
Europe has a face. It can grin, and it has freckles. Almost everyone in Germany knows it. It’s the face of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, 66, the Green member of the European Parliament and former revolutionary.
No one else can explain Europe the way “Red Dany” can. No one but this polyglot global citizen can convince people in almost every country on the continent to listen and to pick up at least some of the enthusiasm he exudes for Europe. “There will be a United States of Europe,” he says. “I’m sure of that.”
Cohn-Bendit does not plan to run in the next European election. He wants to enjoy his retirement. People like him are no longer dependent on the sensitivities of member states, or on political calculations. Instead, Dany can barge straight across the traditional territory of political interests. Seen from his perspective, Europe looks simple.
The Green politician envisions a united Europe organized roughly along the lines of the Federal Republic of Germany: with a government in Brussels, the European Commission, whose members are elected by the European Parliament (EP). The European Council in Brussels would serve as a second governing body next to the parliament, and it would also be involved in writing legislation for Europe. A united Europe’s foreign and defense policy, as well as its financial policy and large parts of its economic policy, would be managed in Brussels.
United States of Europe?
That’s what a United States of Europe could look like. Politicians of widely differing stripes, in Brussels and in many member states, including Germany, hold similar views. But who other than the brightly optimistic Cohn-Bendit has the confidence to express them? Anyone who toys with such models is quickly suspected of being a traitor to his or her country. What would fellow party members and voters at home think about the idea of concentrating all the power in Brussels?