The European Future: The Next Leader of the Free World
How a future Europe can become a beacon for liberty and freedom in a post-American world.
The Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, described Europe as the “true leader of the free world” when addressing the European Parliament. He spoke eloquently and rather passionate about Europe’s role in NATO and signalled its proud role of being the tutelage of liberty and democracy across the world. But, yet, the failure to provide legitimate and clear transparency and democratic accountable contradicts the premise.
Thomas Jefferson foresaw the United States as an “Empire for Liberty” – a nation, which was the perfect model from democratic government based on the virtues of republicanism. In his eyes, the United States was not destined to become an imperial power, but was to oppose it. And this is the philosophy the European Union should be aligning itself with. The rise of China calls for a democratic alternative; Europe is the answer. It cannot, however, build a moral position in the world without democratic surgery.
The European Union Military Committee (EUMC), Foreign Affairs Committee and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy are the areas desperate for alterations and changes. EUMC is the highest authority for discussing, providing advice and dealing with military developments in Europe; its a department aligned not just to the High Representative, but also the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and Common Foreign and Security Policy. This complex and interdepartmental structure reduces the overall influence and productivity of Europe’s military response.
To reduce the complexity, the EUMC should be answering directly to the High Representative, who is responsible, and the figurehead, for European foreign policy. But the EUMC should be renamed the European National Security Council and regularly brief the High Representative for military and terrorist threats to the European Union from hostile groups or nations. Monthly intelligence reports should be co-ordinated by domestic agencies to build a detailed analysis of who or what proposes a danger to European citizens; if President Obama can receive daily accounts of threats to the United States, then there is no reason why the High Representative cannot receive similar benefits.
National security and terrorism should not be relegated to the European Council and conferences, it should be a daily program and routine for the European Union itself; it should not rely on the premise of member states sharing information. In certain cases, for example, member states are reluctant to share intelligence with their European counterparts.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament is among one of the most influential, in terms of attracting the most high profile Members of the European Parliament. Yet it lacks the true power of its counterpart, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The European committee is only consulted by the European Commission. Not only do Americans oversea all high profile appointments to the State Department and the Executive, but have the right to monitor specific programs such as foreign aid, arms sale, training, etc.
The new Foreign Affairs Committee should under go Americanisation – identical powers to the United States Senate equivalent. All European foreign affair related legislation, policy, debates should be administrated by the Committee of MEP’s. The High Representative and all officials linked to the role should be approved by the committee first, then face the Parliamentary vote. If Europe is to build the most credible foreign policy in the next decades then the Foreign Affairs Committee needs to become more integrated into the decision making; the Council, Commission and governments cannot be allowed to maintain an unaccountable monopoly in relation to foreign relations of the European Union.
Final area of reform is the new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; this individual is appointed by the European Council based on a qualified majority. As I mentioned previously, the Foreign Affairs Committee should have a great role in sanctifying any significant appointments and co-ordinate foreign policy with the High Representative. Member states should not be exploiting the position of the High Representative to push domestic foreign policy onto the wider European platform. The European Parliament should be responsible for selecting a candidate for the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security and it should always be a Member of the European Parliament.
To be the future leader of the free world Europe must first reorganise structures at home. If we are to promote democracy, freedom and liberty then the mantra has to be implemented throughout the European Union. What made the United States the leader for democracy, freedom and enlightenment, was the structuring of the Union itself; a political system defined by a constitution, with checks and balances, and democratic accountability gave the United States the moral authority to counter-act the philosophy’s of communism and fascism.
India, the largest democracy in the world, has succumb to internal problems of corruption, lack of economic reform and regulation of the press; once hailed as the rival to China, both economic and in terms of democracy, have started to decrease in the recent 18 months. But is Europe up for the challenge? It seems incapable of combating, effectively, the European debt crisis and national interests have replaced European unity. Majority of what I am proposing would not require a new Treaty of the European Union. In reality, if the Fiscal Union is to be sufficient, it will need a strong democratic core to the new structure. Europeans will reject any constitutional changes, which are overtly undemocratic and increasing bureaucracy. Alas, though, current summits end with partial agreements, which inevitably fragment and become disorganised.
In conclusion, a world without the moral authority of the United States will be a darker and dangerous one; currently, the next global dominate power, China, does not value human rights, freedom or democracy. Europeans have the political capability and international prestige to become the defender and promoter of the free world.