Éviter un rétrécissement de l’UE sur une planète en expansion

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L’UE doit s’élargir pour inclure de nouveaux pays et atteindre une taille critique qui lui permettra de survivre au XXIe siècle, écrit Bahadir Kaleagasi.


Bahadir Kaleagasi est le président de l’Institut Bosphore et le coordinateur international de TÜS?AD, l’association des industries et entreprises turques.

"The effects of the global challenges defining Europe’s future are expanding exponentially. Aside from some countries’ shockingly weak economic discipline, the fundamental crisis is actually one of governance.

Beyond the long list of tasks to better tackle with so many fields of action, these global challenges push the EU toward an unavoidable dilemma.

The EU oughts to expand to include new countries and reach a critical size that will let it weather the 21st century.

However, the EU has to also be a stronger, more unified political system whose functional feasibility depends on a limited number of countries in advanced economic and monetary convergence.

Enlargement versus deepening, an old dilemma coming back with stronger pressure. The vicious circle of “a globally competitive, wider Europe” versus an “institutionally efficient deeper eurozone, with a limited number of countries” can only be broken by an innovative institutional engineering in adopting a progressive approach.

An important factor in any successful enlargement of the EU is the EU itself.

The future evolution of the EU as a political actor on the world scene will naturally determine the extension of its power through enlargement.

At the point when a candidate country is ready for full membership and it becomes certain that that enlargement will be beneficial for Europe and its citizens, the question turns to the EU’s readiness.

Will the EU be still attractive for a candidate country to join? Four major scenarios, or narrative concepts, can mark the present analysis.

The single market, together with regional peace and stability, has been the greatest achievement of the European integration process. This is world’s largest economy with a GDP of €12.6 trillion, a half billion people, and 20% of the global trade. Yet the single market is far from an accomplished task.

Despite 6 million people working abroad in another member country and 2.5 million Erasmus exchange students so far, internal mobility is not yet a parameter of a social cohesion among different nations.

In 2011, nine out of ten new jobs were created in Europe’s service sectors. However, the European services market remains fragmented. The free access to public markets, too, is still a challenge.

There is no doubt that, from the beginning, the founding fathers’ vision was that of a federal political union. As a leading founding father of second generation, Jacques Delors, proposed an answer to the end of cold war in 1989 in the rapid creation of a federal union as the core of the wider Europe defined as “common European home” by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Western European countries moved quite rapidly to negotiate a new “European architecture,” in 1992 signing the Treaty of Maastricht, which had deviated from the original idea of a federal Europe to an institutional design of a Greek temple with an economic and monetary pillar, enhancing the single market and opening the way toward the single currency, and two other pillars internal affairs and external relations based on inter-governmental procedures.

The European Union was introduced to be the roof on the top of these pillars. The EU’s federal characteristics have been reinforced since then thanks to a set of reforming treaties and despite the failed attempt at a European Constitution.

But the basic ideas for a smaller and more coherent political union are still pertinent: more powers to the European Parliament, less recourse to the rule of unanimity in voting at the Council of Ministers, transforming the Council to a kind of senate of states, a second chamber of the Parliament, redesigning the Commission as a real executive power, and more.

Meanwhile, a large number of member states, having already reached an agreement for a “fiscal pact,” are contemplating a stronger Brussels to supervise and lead the macro-economic policies, banking system, and international representation.

The future of the EU is linked to the success of the euro. The fact that the pressure cooker of the sovereign debt crisis has crippled the eurozone provides a unique chance to push for a deeper fiscal and political union.

Europe should enlarge toward new countries to enhance its demography, single market, economic competitiveness, and security.

However, the experience of the last few decades demonstrate that with so many member states as stakeholders in the arena of European policymaking, decisions to launch a comprehensive federal union cannot even be on the agenda.

Both the quantity and the quality matter. Some countries are not willing to be part of a deeper monetary and political union.

Others are not ready for it. Moreover, the EU itself is not yet a mature enough structure to function swiftly with more than 25 members.

This vicious circle can only be broken by innovative institutional engineering with a progressive approach. Those member states that are willing and able to go further in a field of integration should be allowed to do it without the others.

A Europe of variable geometry is emerging on the basis of an already existing reality of eurozone, Schengen area, defence cooperation, and social policy opt-outs. This is a Europe of differentiated integration as already endorsed by several European leaders and opinion leaders. This is also what many others, led by the British government, describe as two-speed Europe.

This scenario that can combine both Europa Mercãtus and Europa Nostrum may be great success if it is orchestrated to avoid a Europe a la carte. On one hand, the actual EU

of 28, and soon 35, countries must be integrated in an enhanced single market supported by strong institutions, cooperation programs, social development targets, and trans-European infrastructures of transport, telecommunications, and energy.

This would be the wide EU within which a smaller group of states may create a more federal “Euro core”. The enlargement would also be easier for national political public debate since it would be more courageous to argue for new membership, therefore for “enlargement of Europe’s powers,” in the face of the global challenges, while well emphasising that the core Europe, Europa Nostrum, is not affected by this development.

This scenario is business as usual, a Europe that evolves without deepening, nor enlarging, which is permanently struggling to renovate its anachronistic system with small retouches, and inconsequentially trying to generate confidence for its citizens and international partners.

This is a Europe slowly fading away. It would certainly be a catastrophic scenario, not only for Europe but for all the world economy and the history of democracy.

There are certainly many other factors to be considered for deeper analysis, but there is no time to lose in acting for a better Europe. More innovative policies and political wisdom are urgently needed. One of the points of action may be to restart discussions on Turkey’s future in Europe.

The EU’s diminishing influence on Turkey’s domestic agenda is a perfect loose-loose formula for both sides. A third loser would be the prospect for more democracy and a stronger global economy. Europe as the “sick man of the world” would cause a global epidemic. The European integration’s progress is the remedy. Europa progressio!"

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