Can Europe Make It?

Blogging here really caused a profound change in my views about Europe

Christoph Heuermann
6 June 2014

The European Elections are finished. This column will expire as well. Before it does, I would like to share how my writing here really caused a profound change, both concerning my views about Europe and my own personal activities.

Writing from a more classical liberal perspective, there was, of course, an anti-EU bias to be recognized in my writing. Although Europe always was important for me, I widely considered the EU as an unnecessary evil. In informing myself more about it, my views changed. Although the European Union still is much too big, inefficient and inflexible, it seems to be a necessary evil. Not because of what it claims – like guaranteeing peace. More, because of what advantages it has forgotten to declare – setting into movement the powers of liberty in both economic and social spheres. Liberty is unpopular, especially for a bureaucratic machine in Brussels, this much is to be expected. However, to secure the future of the Union in the face of the rise of far right and leftist parties, this will be the only option – back to the principles which established a strong alliance in Europe.

The renewed interest in the EU caused different personal changes as well. This semester, I attended a seminar on decision-making processes in the European Union, and for the first time I really understood how it worked. If citizens would only understand the sophisticated procedures in place, most of the leftist and rightist propaganda would evaporate. Moreover, I am already keen to experience this in reality and have secured an internship this summer in Brussels, where I will gain some more really deep insights into the EU. Although I will work with a privately-funded think tank rather than an EU institution, this will be an excellent opportunity to learn more and experience the city myself instead of trusting others to tell us the story about Brussels and the bubble life there. 

Also, my interest in international issues was awakened once more again. Just returning from a United Nations simulation exercise, I am reminded how important it is to solve international issues in cooperation with other nation states rather than individually. Although I am still critical about the introduction of a European Army, some issues should really be discussed more on an international cooperative basis, or at least on a European one.

For the remainder of this blog, I want to use an anecdote from Germany. Here, extremist parties had no real chance. The new eurosceptic party „Alternative for Germany“ gained 8%, but this is small in comparison with other European right-wing parties. More interesting are the many minor parties now coming into the European Parliament, among them the Party of Family, the Party of Animal Protection and unfortunately also the national socialists, who all gained one seat. One seat however also went to the satirist „The Party“, which convinced many young voters who could not identify with the boring campaigns and the missing content of the established parties. Now sending someone to Brussels, they have already gained much attention by their announcement to „milk“ the European Union dry.

The funny thing is: the only person to speak out against Sonneborn has been the Green MEP Sven Giegold. Sven Giegold really is the personified reason for the rise of extremist parties and a good example for the democratic deficit incorporated in many members. He claims that satire will cost the EU (and by extension, the tax payer) so much money – an argument that could certainly be applied to himself as well. With much less but far more efficient regulation and all these other things the costs for taxpayers could be highly reduced.

However, this is not the interest of Sven Giegold, who seems to be comfortable in his position in Brussels. Maybe, he should follow the example of the leader of the party he criticized, Martin Sonneborn – to make place for other people to enjoy the benefits of representing Europe in Brussels. That exactly, is what „The Party“ proposes – to abdicate every month to make it possible for as many of the members of their party to enjoy the benefits of the European bubble as they can. The author of these sentences will be happy to experience it as well before it bursts – which will certainly happen, unless a change of direction in thinking about European issues occurs.

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