I’m a couple days late in noting this (sorry, it’s midterms/papers/everything week) but Max Bergmann had a beautiful post about the European Union, its democratic deficit, and the financial crisis over at Democracy Arsenal recently. Read the whole thing, but the conclusion is particularly good:
So where the EU goes from here is anybody’s guess. The worries of collapse are legitimate, but it is likely that the EU will pull together to do just enough to muddle through this crisis. If it is able to get through, the opportunity could be there for the EU to strengthen its political union. The Lisbon Treaty, which is not far from ratification, is no cure all, but it would be an awful important step to improve Europe’s ability to act more decisively.
The late Civil War historian Shelby Foote had a great quote about the impact of the Civil War on the US: “it made us an is,” he said. What he meant was that before the war people thought of the United States as a collection of states and would say “the United States are” a beautiful country. After the War it became “the United States is.” While this crisis could never have the unifying and transformative impact that the Civil War had on the U.S., crises do expose shortcomings and create opportunities to address them. A silver lining perhaps.
Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m a big booster of regional and global political integration, and this is no exception. If ever there were a time for the drafting of a new European Constitution matching increased regulatory and fiscal powers with a far more powerful European Parliament, it’s now. Similarly, we need to start rethinking our global financial institutions, in a way that both makes them more effective and more accountable. I’m not much for sovereignty, but the concept is never as actively pernicious as it is during international financial meltdowns, which require quick, consistent coordination. While a full-fledged global democracy along Monbiot-style lines is unfortunately still quite far off, it is incumbent on Obama – and the leaders of the EU, as Bergmann says – to start moving in the direction of making Europe, and eventually the world, cohesive political units.