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The Necessity of a Democratisation of the European Union

, by Federica Martiny, translated by Francesco Santini

All the versions of this article: [English] [italiano]

The European Union is an active player in the world. But is there not far more potential if the Union strengthens its federal basis by focusing on democratising the organisation as a whole? Federica Martiny will focus on this question.

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We are in 2010 and not everyone is convinced about the necessity - recently pointed out by Giorgio Napolitano president of the Italian Republic - “to keep alive the ideal vision of Spinelli and of the Crocodile Club for an increasingly closer integration of the European people in the full awareness that only by acting as a unitary political subject, Europe will be able to address the current global challenges”.

Especially the representatives of the governments seem unable to recognise the clear signs, such as the economic and financial crisis or the environmental issues that should cause reflection on the future of Europe. These signs force them to think about which path to choose and also about their responsibility to push political and institutional reforms necessary for a real democratisation of the European institutions. This process should finally lead to a real ability of the EU to act as an autonomous political subject and to address more effectively the global challenges that are important for the future of the whole humanity, such as economic issues, conflicts arising from the lack of energy resources or from the fear of terrorism and the protection of human rights and of the environment.

The only real way to concretely and definitively tackle these problems - or at least to make an valuable attempt into that direction - is to recall the meaning and value of peace. In this context peace should not be conceived as a utopian and abstract value but rather as the inescapable condition for the true well-being of people. Hence, the objective of peace should be reached primarily through the democratisation of the European institutions and, afterwards, through the democratisation of the international and global institutions.

Only by acting as a unitary political subject, Europe will be able to address the current global challenges.

Food for thoughts arrives from Nietzsche’s text “Beyond Good and Evil - We Scholars” where he states that “[...] in my heart I should rather prefer the contrary—I mean such an increase in the threatening attitude of Russia, that Europe would have to make up its mind to become equally threatening — namely, to acquire one will […] - so that the long spun-out comedy of its petty- statism, and its dynastic as well as its democratic many-willed-ness, might finally be brought to a close”.

However, the intention here is not to propose a dogmatic and ahistorical interpretation of this short passage by trying to attribute things to Nietzsche that he actually didn’t say or even thought. Nevertheless, from this passage it is possible to understand that already in the late nineteenth century a high-profile intellectual - and certainly not an isolated case - felt the urgent need for Europe to acquire one will in order to address the political problems of the nations.

We are in 2010. Obviously this need is even more intense now. Consequently, if the EU does not assume its political responsibility, the risks are even more serious.

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