Guest blog by Jaap Hoeksma, Philosopher of Law, Director of Euroknow and Creator of the Boardgame Eurocracy. Hoeksma is author of the EU-monograph: From Common Market to Common Democracy, lendable at the library.

The Blind Spot of the White Paper: A Citizens’ Contribution to the Debate about the Future of Europe

It is conventional wisdom in Brussels and the wider European Union that a good crisis should never be wasted. Since the start of this century, however, the European Union has been besieged by such a variety of crises that it seems to be haunted by its own version of the ten biblical plagues. The constitutional crisis, which had been caused by the rejection of the so-called Constitution for Europe in 2005 by the French and Dutch electorates, was solved through the Lisbon Treaty of 2007.

Hardly had the new treaty entered into force or the financial or sovereign debt crisis erupted. It pushed the euro and the EU to the brink of collapse, but the migration crisis was already pressing before the euro crisis had been brought under control. This combination of crises resulted in a Crisis of Confidence between the EU and its citizens, which was highlighted once more by the decision of the British voters in 2016 to leave the EU altogether.

Amidst this stream of bad tidings, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker presented his team in his inaugural address to the European Parliament in 2014 as ‘the last chance Commission: either we succeed in bringing the European citizens closer to Europe – or we will fail’. In view of this creed, it seems almost beyond belief that the citizens should form the blind spot of the White Paper on the Future of Europe, which the Commission published in March 2017.

Paradoxically, the White Paper intends to restore the trust of the citizens in the EU by presenting various modes of cooperation between the member states. While this suggestion might have been sound and practical at the time of the European Communities, which formed an organisation of democratic states, the EU has evolved over the past decades into a union of states and citizens. The Lisbon Treaty notably construes the EU as a Union of states and citizens, which functions on a democratic footing. If the Commission wants to overcome the Multiple Crisis Decade and intends to restore the trust of the citizens in the present EU, the White Paper should be preceded by and/or complemented with a strategy for strengthening the bond between the Union and its citizens.

Read more in an Essay on the Future of the European Union, by Jaap Hoeksma

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