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European Elections: what are the issues?

For the European elections in June next candidates and political parties have to be able to put forward real proposals. 

Far too often the manifestos are vague, general and evidently outdated.

What is the point in demanding “another Europe”, “that Europe should change direction” if it is not clearly stated what is wanted and how we are to work to achieve those goals? 

It is time to talk politics on a European level and not only look on as impotent spectators would a quite justifiably sacred object. This is because divides which are clearly differences in vision and approach are emerging.

On the one hand there are those who are content with the present situation: a pacified Europe, which is economically much more prosperous and comfortable than any other continent – a kind of “Self-service Europe” which has succeeded and the course of which, in their opinion, does not need to be changed. This group supports the single market and nothing but that, they favour enlargement as the only foreign policy possible and put off difficult choices with regard to security and defence to a later date. With the Czech Presidency we have witnessed this position and it is likely that we shall see how inadequate this is in the face of the economic crisis, and to be able to rise to major strategic challenges or to be able to continue on the path towards political unity.

On the other hand there are those who question both the present and the future.

What do we need to overcome the economic recession in the best possible manner and to guarantee our security long term?

If we set aside the eurosceptics and the populists who of course, take advantage in times of difficulty, these are the issues to which we have to try and provide answers during the electoral campaign if we want to attract the voters’ interest.

Three subjects can for example provide matter for political debate and might enlighten the European vote:

The European economic policy.

Should Europe take responsibility for its opening to the world which obviously is a benefit primarily to European countries?

Or should it protect itself and from what? 

But should the issue of a common economic policy, a coordinated and even a united approach even be raised with regard to major economic decisions.

Everyone says they want this.

To what extent are we prepared to give up our sovereignty to achieve this goal?

Isn’t the Euro, which has protected us from the financial turbulence the focal point in this new step forwards?

Finally, no one questions the fact that in the competitive world race we have to strengthen our economy. 

Should we set ourselves the goal of increasing the number of European champions in industry and services, should we free initiative to foster small and medium sized companies that produce the main share of wealth and provide the greatest number of jobs – and which policies should be employed to implement this?

How should we increase vital research and innovation work that will produce future European wealth?

We know that there are several different approaches ranging from France’s traditional voluntarism, the UK’s ideology of laisser-faire and various degrees of State intervention undertaken by other States such as Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

The Enlargement Policy.

Whether we like it or not a political Union requires boundaries.

As long as the European ‘politically correct’ will not discuss this, the present policy will be challenged because European citizenship and identity can only be built within a defined political area.

Incidentally we have to accept an objective analysis of previous enlargements and debate these in public.

Although the reunification of the continent has been a huge geo-political success we have to admit that a certain number of mistakes have been made.

The European Parliament has just accused the Commission of lacking rigour in the use of community money in Romania and Bulgaria where the rule of law is not satisfactory in terms of European criteria.

Should the Member States have paid greater attention with regard to this enlargement?

The economic situation in Latvia, Hungary and Poland also reveal that enlargement does not end on the day of accession.

Europe’s responsibility is now implied.

Do they not need European aid, specific European monitoring and enhanced solidarity?

Would it not be appropriate to help the new Member States after accession even if it simply meant preventing corruption?

Finally as the enlargements have taken place and the treaties signed, the number of exceptions and specific status have grown. “Europe à la carte” has become the rule to the detriment of a “Set Menu Europe”.

Should we accept States into the Union which do not accept all of the rules?

Security and Defence Policy.

This is the real forerunner to a common foreign policy.

Is it not urgent to offer Europeans and their States a common security policy which, in any case, is moving forwards out of necessity?

Can we freely allow organised crime, human and drugs traffickers to enter Europe because we are reluctant to pool our police forces and legal systems?

Whilst the entire world is re-arming, can the extremely wealthy Europe remain unarmed and peaceful for long without showing the will to defend itself and foster its model of society?

No one wants to use the European tools of defence for imperial or expansionist ends, but doesn’t the close proximity to Europe of aggressive or unstable powers oblige us to equip ourselves, even if it is simply a question guaranteeing peace?

Can Europe accept real defence “stowaways” within its ranks – countries which shelter und the cover of others?

Isn’t there imminent danger of it developing into “a multi-tiered Europe” with leaders on the one hand and those who follow on the other? 

Here are some issues that should lead to real debate.

Of course there are others.

We have the right to expect candidates and political parties to run in the European elections with real proposals and clear stances on controversial issues in Europe.

This is what we want to debate because soon we shall have to provide answers to all of these questions.

They are sufficiently important and difficult for voters to have their say.

And if they cast their vote, Democracy will have made great progress and Europe will be able to do the same!