Friday, December 21, 2007

European puzzle

Recently in Lisbon, Portugal, the Reform Treaty of the EU has been signed and approved for ratification. The process is to reform, improve, and possibly make EU more 'democratic', so to speak. The President has already enthusiastically proclaimed that the 'agreement' reached in Lisbon has been a victory for the citizens of EU. Some of the changes are good in that citizens can take initiatives. For example if 1 million citizens of the EU sign a petition, they can ask the European Commission to draft a law. Also, there has been created a Presidential post for the Commission, elected every 2.5 years. The MEPs will elect the President. So, the President would reflect the views of MEPs. Basically, the EU is trying to become more and more transparent and accountable to the citizens of EU. This is a good intention when viewed in light of constant complaints that international organizations are anti-democratic. For more here and here.

But in this process, some of the deep-seated divisions within the EU came forth. Of course, Great Britain is still remaining 'outside' the room, so to speak, and is voicing its dissatisfication with many issues. During the signing ritual, Gordon Brown did not even put his signature on the Treaty along with others, but preferred to do so later separately. 'Exceptionalism' has its presence also in the EU. There are divisions with regard to the status of Kosovo, the general political direction about Russia, the Baltic states, Greece/Turkey. Also, even though the EU purports to become more democratic, essentially it does not reflect the voice of the citizens. One indicator is that in 2005 the referendums on the Constitution of the EU have failed in France and Netherlands.

So, while the EU purports to solidify and become a stronger 'union', there are many historic and geopolitical challenges that would need to be overcome.

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