OPINION

An architecture for Europe

The European Union’s fledging architecture has for many years been the subject of multi-faceted debate. The recent joint French and German proposal to install two presidents at the helm of the EU brought together the distinct views of federalists and intergovernmentalists and also reconfirmed the role of the Berlin-Paris axis as the prime mover in the bloc. The plan’s drawback is its dual-power arrangement, thereby leaving more potential for rift and collision. The six-month rotating Council presidency involving all member states left no room for antagonism with the European Commission. Having a permanent Council president as well as an enhanced Commission president elected by the European Parliament would be likely to create problems. Even more so given that the dividing lines between their areas of responsibility would be blurred. Federalists want to see a president elected by the parliament. Their position is clear. But it remains far from clear to what extent the EU can evolve into a federation in the traditional sense. Europe consists of nation states and integration cannot go on forever. The EU can only survive to the extent that it respects its constituent nations and their cultures. The EU cannot become a melting pot of different nations and cultures in the manner the USA has. Those who dream of a supranational, homogenized Europe only undermine the unification process. The nation state has always taken revenge on those who tried to abolish it – at least prematurely. Attempting to manipulate historical evolution has always wrought disastrous results. Despite its drawbacks, a dual leadership is perhaps the safest step toward further integration. It represents a transitional compromise that will be put to the test in order to prepare for the next step.