sábado, 6 de agosto de 2011

Looking at the future of Europe

Translation by Google Translate personally reviewed and amended

The fiscal problems in the Eurozone are a threat to the stability of the EU, including the stability of the global economy. However, it is also an opportunity to wonder what is the way forward, to re-consider the future of the EU and I am not referring to the near future but to the coming decades, to where we really want the EU to go and what measures must be taken.

I consider myself European. I think that in a world of giants like USA, China, India, Russia or Brazil, European localism is absurd. At the moment of truth, the Europeans share many more things than we think. We have very homogeneous political systems, common interests, a relatively homogeneous vision of what we mean by progress and the society in which we want to live. We are only separated by a linguistic and cultural diversity that is extremely enriching and makes Europe one of the most diverse regions to live in the world.

So I think the way for Europe is the federation of states. Not a United States of Europe. That would not work: we are not as homogeneous nor share the lifestyle nor much of the mentality. Europeans are different and a federation should include these differences, but a federal structure itself would help. The greatest challenge is today, by contrast, states. National leaders are taking advantage of an unsatisfactory European experience and a nationalist rhetoric to deter the citizens of the idea of greater integration. The danger, however, does not come from that integration, if done well, but the petty desire to artificially maintain a confederal model in a Europe of nation states that is declining, which has been on the second row on the international scene for a long time.

Anyone who looks at the global picture can tell that the lights are not upon us anymore and that if they are, is for bad: for our sovereign debt crisis that threatens global financial stability and economic prosperity of other countries in the world. Europe must stop to become a frustrated utopia itself and evolve into something new. It is not true that a democracy can not be crowded and with a great diversity of languages: there is the example of India. In Europe we also have something that is not there: a great tradition of human rights protection, an institution like the Council of Europe (vanguard of this protection) and a front line democratic culture in a diverse and pluralistic societies.

It is true that sharing a common language would help. In that sense, I am a strong advocate of promoting a real bilingualism in English in the EU. If the Dutch and the Scandinavians can do it, there is no reason why the Mediterranean peoples should sentence ourselves to ostracism of linguistic isolation. States have in compulsory education a very powerful tool. However, the amount of vested interests and lack of awareness of politicians unable to communicate in a language other than Spanish seems to condemn future generations to the same isolation. A profound reform of education system with immersion in English and Anglophone teachers is the first step.

From there, the demand for video and written content in English is a logical consequence. In addition to facilitating the political cohesion and not to do unthinkable a Czech candidate rally in Dos Hermanas (town in Seville province), this would have the advantage of facilitating the mobility of professionals, opening an unimaginable range of possibilities now. Since language differences are major barriers between people beyond culture, sharing a language would put us in disposition to deal either with a Spanish or an Austrian, greatly enriching our personal lives too, not just our career.

Far from being seen as a threat, bilingualism would be an opportunity. Far from reaching the confusing mix of languages in which there are often people who, like me, have learned a second language as adults, bilingualism would lead to a more natural and more peaceful coexistence of the languages. The only major hurdle would be, again, the status quo and the reluctance of those who do not speak English for fear that future bilingual generations may sweep them in the future. Experience shows, however, that to survive we must be open to change. Neither Europe nor Spain can afford to live apart from English. Bilingualism would improve our trade relations with the outside world and open the doors of our country to a more diverse and enriching immigration, which was not predominantly Latin-American.

Having said all this, a European federal state appears even more utopian than a Spain or a France where one can open a bank account in English. However, a classical federal structure is essential in terms of democratic health if we keep going forward in the Union. States will be tempted to go further in fiscal integration, which could end up in an European treasure, but they will avoid at all costs European politics: that is, an elected president and a parliament with real legislative powers. The first is, however, impossible without the second. Greater integration will lead, ultimately, to the public perception that Europe is about burning us with taxes and about four presidents of VIP countries managing the show. Such Union would eventually blow up the European dream and end up making politically unfeasible European fiscal Union and, who knows?, monetary union. The structure of this new state would be very debatable, but clearly should be designed in terms of checks and balances of powers and clear rules of transparency.

But most important of all, European citizenship has not yet become aware of all this, and worse, seems to recede more and more of Europeanism. Europe is for many people more than a place to live, a place to go on holidays and sometimes not even that. Nothing of this is possible to carry out without convinced Europeans. Who knows if, after all, Europeans are not up to the mark of a common project? The rest of the world may laugh. Less competition for them. We are to follow our little local issues and our rusty old glories shine. Meanwhile, the world will continue spinning and no longer look at Europe.

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