Only more democracy can save Europe

29 August 2011

Only more democracy can save Europe

The current financial is mercilessly laying naked the problem of European politics: a lack of democracy. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte chiefly comments on proposals from other European leaders and these same leaders are principally interested in the effects which these words might have on the financial markets.

By Ronald van Raak

Ronald van RaakEach word, each discussion, each proposal seems above all to be aimed at making bankers, investors and speculators happy. A fine sight it certainly is not, to see our Prime Minister in such a strangle-hold. Equally, his juggling with the figures in the media and the half-truths he feeds to Parliament bear witness to his lack of strength and power.

The financial crisis is leading to deep austerity, cuts which hit the public hard. At the same time measures are being taken to support the banks financially and to shore up share prices. European Union officials want more power to supervise the budgets of the member states. These are all measures which fail to tackle the causes of this crisis and which will not prevent the next. What’s needed, therefore, is for member states to come up with an action plan against speculation, for national authorities to exercise greater surveillance of banks and for their citizens to be more involved in the decisions taken within the European Union.
We can choose whether Europe is to be the cause of, or the solution to, our problems.

The euro was introduced without the approval of the people. The European Constitution was rejected by the people, but nevertheless forced in through the back door. Should we allow the markets to determine our policies while we gag the public? Or are we going to regulate the markets more and give people a greater say? You can’t be against Europe any more than you can be against the weather. You can only hope for good weather, but a better Europe we can make.

This opinion piece first appeared, in Dutch, on the website montesquieu-instituut.nl in August, 2011.

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