OPINION

Which new Europe?

The debate over the future of a new Europe can be constructive if we answer the following question: Are we talking about a commonwealth of states or a union of citizens? As former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing observed: «When we talk about equality, are we refering to equality between states or between citizens?» The eventual size of a new Europe is also a significant concern. A union of 25 (or even 27 or 28) member states cannot possibly resemble that of its six founders. Even if the big five agreed to appoint just one instead of two Commissioners, the equal distribution of seats and power would not merge very comfortably with the democratic efficiency of the institutions of an enlarged Europe. A Commission with 25 members would be even less productive and competent than the current sluggish and «feudalistic» 20-member board. On the other hand, an executive committee of 15 would fulfill its aims more effectively. Such a decision would also be compatible with the proposal made recently by French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder – one which will be extremely difficult to sell to British premier Tony Blair. The proposal for the election of a Committee president is widely regarded as a viable and logical solution to the Commission’s current identity crisis. And the rejuvenation of the Franco-German alliance… will serve to decisively accelerate debate leading toward the drafting of a European Constitution.