Christian Engström, Pirat

16 februari 2013

Let All Of Europe Have A Referendum on the EU

Filed under: demokrati i eu,English — Christian Engström @ 17:12

Great Britain will hold a referendum on the EU in 2017. This is a good thing, but the rest of us Europeans should be given a chance to express our views in a referendum as well.

The EU rapidly evolving towards an ever larger superstate under insufficient democratic control. The British referendum opens a window of opportunity to do something about this. We need a new basic treaty for the EU to replace the current Lisbon Treaty. The new treaty needs to be adopted in a referendum, to give it democratic legitimacy.

The Pirate Party does not have a ready-made proposal for what this new treaty should look like. Instead, we have a proposal for how it should be adopted to get democratic legitimacy. If we can agree on the rules of the game first, it will get easier to have a constructive discussion about the contents of the new treaty later.

We propose the following process for adopting a new basic treaty for the EU:

  • A proposal for a new treaty is drafted, and all EU citizens get to vote in a referendum if they think that the new treaty is good enough to serve as the foundation for the EU in the future. The referendum should be held on the same day all over the EU according to the principle of one citizen, one vote, regardless of which member state they live in. Holding a common referendum in this way reduces the risk that the process is held hostage by any member state for purely nationalistic motives.
  • Once the new treaty has been adopted in the big pan-European referendum, each country will decide if they want to be members of the EU according to the new treaty. This decision can be made either in the national parliament or by a national referendum. Countries that don’t want to remain members can take a step back, and just have a free trade agreement with the EU, like Norway or Switzerland have today.

If we can agree from the outset that this is how the new treaty will be adopted, the treaty will automatically have to live up to certain minimum standards.

It will have to be understandable, so that citizens can know what they are voting on in the referendum. It will have to be democratic, so that citizens want it. And it will have to respect the subsidiarity principle and not move more power than necessary to Brussels, so that the member states will want to be part of the new EU.

Who drafts the treaty will be of less importance with this procedure. No matter who does the drafting, the rules for adopting the new treaty will ensure that it is understandable, democratic, and only gives the EU as much power as people really want it to have. Any proposal that fails to live up to this is doomed to be rejected by the citizens and/or member states anyway, so even presenting it would just be a waste of time.

Hopefully, there will be many different proposals from different political parties and other actors. Then we could have a broad debate about what kind of EU we want in the future.

Britain will have its in-or-out referendum in 2017. The EU has until then to shape up, if it wants Britain to remain a member. But this is a good thing for all European citizens, not just the Brits. In the rest of Europe we are an additional 450 million citizens who also want a more democratic EU. To get this, we need a new treaty.

It is excellent that prime minister Cameron and Great Britain has put pressure on the EU by giving a date for the British referendum. That gives us a concrete timeline to work with, and opens a window of opportunity for reforming the EU to make it more democratic, more transparent, and generally more sensible.

The first step towards such a new treaty would be to decide that it will have to be adopted in two steps, first in an EU-wide referendum, and then by each of the member states that want to remain a member. This will ensure that the new treaty has proper democratic legitimacy, and is acceptable to a majority of the citizens.

It will also set the stage for a proper discussion about what we want the EU to be — and not to be. This is a discussion that we really need, and which is long overdue. The plans for a British EU referendum in 2017 has opened a window of opportunity for all of Europe.

This is an opportunity we must seize.

6 kommentarer

  1. And what happens if there is no treaty? If the euroskepticals win? Try to ask people, anywhere in the EU, even in Brussels, if the have any notion on what the European Commission and the EP are and what they do, on who is the president of the EP. They have no idea, no idea of what the EU, of what it does, of what it is useful. The only thing they know is the nationalist bullshit their government are telling them to blame their own incompetence on the EU. What if direct democracy decides that there should not be an EU. What will become of Erasmus, of Schengen, of the common market. What of peace, of diplomatic relations, of progress if there is no union? It will be resentment and rivalries and nationalisms all over again.
    You want a referendum, but is Europe prepared for all of its potential outcomes?

    Kommentar av Evpok — 16 februari 2013 @ 18:38

  2. Reblogged this on Urbansundstrom’s Weblog.

    Kommentar av urbansundstrom — 16 februari 2013 @ 19:16

  3. @Evpok,

    If a proposal for a new treaty is rejected in the pan-European referendum, then it is dead, and somebody will have to come up with a new proposal. Repeat until an acceptable proposal has been found.

    If it turns out (which I find very unlikely, but nevertheless) that a majority of citizens neither want Erasmus, Schengen, the common market, nor the EU to promote peace, diplomatic relations or progress, then so be it. Trying to force certain structures or goals on the citizens against their will can never lead to democratic legitimacy.

    I am personally very much in favour of Erasmus, Schengen, and the common market, and just like everybody else I am of course in favour of peace, diplomatic relations, and progress. But this does not mean that I will accept an undemocratic or potentially dangerous supernational construction just because it does deliver some good things (which could probably be organised without the EU anyway), or because it uses beautiful buzz-words when it praises itself.

    It is true that the EU delivers some good things, like Erasmus, the common market, and the free movement. But if it cannot continue to deliver those thing under a democratic treaty that a majority of the citizens are prepared to support, then it has no democratic legitimacy.

    The challenge for those who want the EU to continue to exist is to present a vision of how they want the EU to function in the future, and to describe that vision in the form of a draft for a new basic EU treaty. I do hope some EU lovers will rise to that challenge.

    Kommentar av Christian Engström — 16 februari 2013 @ 20:20

  4. We have to more clearly define what a NO in the pan-European referendum actually mean.

    If it only mean Status Quo and keeping the current Lisbon Treaty, then I don’t think this will work well, since it will not create incentives to draft a good new treaty (those who will draft the new treaty thinks the current Lisbon Treaty is quote OK). The stakes must be higher.

    If, on the other hand, NO mean that we disband the EU completely, then the stakes are too high and a lot of people will probably vote YES even if the proposed new treaty sucks.

    We need a baseline somewhere in between. Such as rolling back until before the Maastricht Treaty of 1993, and thus disbanding the EU and only keeping the EC.

    Kommentar av Mikael Ståldal — 17 februari 2013 @ 11:54

  5. My issue with such a referendum is not that I fear that the citizens don’t want Erasmus or Schengen or even EU, but that they won’t even know what it is about. I am French, and I saw how last year’s candidates to the presidency and their lobbies communicated on the EU: the one thing to blame for all their mistakes. It impacted the national opinion on EU very badly. The same thing happened when there was a referendum on the European Constitution: national issues prevailed and those who voted didn’t vote for or against the constitution, but against the government.

    If there is a EU-wide referendum, I fear that it could be the same, and that EU is broken because of the egoistic agendas of some national leaders and the global ignorance of too much of EU citizens. I do agree that we need a referendum, but it should be prepared with heavy communication and education to what the EU really is. Communication independent of national governments, I’ll never trust those on the topic of EU.

    Kommentar av Evpok — 17 februari 2013 @ 13:22

  6. […] article was originally published at MEP Christian Engström’s […]

    Pingback av Let All Of Europe Have A Referendum On The EU - Soicalpost — 22 februari 2013 @ 11:00

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