If you’ve ever wondered what would be the equivalent of an own goal in EU politics, here is a recent example.
Elmar Brok, the president of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) who is also an MEP with the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), opposed the proposal to have the transnational lists in the 2019 EU election.
The transnational lists were one of the rare truly federalist ideas to have come along in the last few decades – and the European federalist movements have been asking for them forever – yet, their president chose to stick to the party line, or even campaign against the idea.
This has dealt a severe blow to the organisation’s reputation and, unsurprisingly, there have been calls for him to step down. It is also worth mentioning, and criticising, that the EPP had allied with the extreme-right to kill the transnational lists.
It’s not the first time that the federalist president had acted against the federalist principles. During a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in March 2017, Merkel’s ally was the only speaker who avoided using the words “federalism” or “United States of Europe”.
EU federalism and the means to reach it have been clear and very carefully written in manifestos.
And the transnational lists are one of those means.
We’ve learnt enough from the examples of would be federalists who carried the flag of Altiero Spinelli and at the same time attempted to befriend movements willing to abandon the eurozone.
We’ve learnt enough from those federalists who forgot the social agenda and made fiscal discipline almost a prerequisite for being considered pro-EU.
Now is the time to protect those EU citizens who have sacrificed their entire life for the European dream.
By letting them down, we will all be “brothers in the EU crime”.
Cutting operational grants, as the Commission just did to the UEF, is not the wisest idea, especially almost a year before the European elections.
If the decision was simply a matter of a bureaucrat’s pen, then the question must be asked how bureaucracy can prevail when the EU political project is at stake? When extreme-right populism is gradually becoming the norm and pro-EU stance is perceived as an elitist and old-fashioned way of thinking?
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Views are the author’s