Power inbalance in the EU ( European Union ), is leading to anti-German sentiment, failing cohesion,

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Power inbalance in the EU ( European Union ), is leading to anti-German sentiment, failing cohesion, and the danger of EU breakdown.

There are lessons to be learned by the European Union (EU) from the ancient greek federations. 

What is the exact meaning of solidarity and its relation to the federation’s responsibility towards its members? 

The term “Union” seems to indicate an ideal, the goal of the EU to become a true federation, which it has not yet achieved.

The ancient greek federations, like the modern ones, were based on solidarity, trust and a perception of common interest. 

Since 2000, particularly within the European Monetary Union (EMU), the EU appears in praxis to have been governed by its stronger members, especially Germany, which impose their will and the mix of policy measures they deem appropriate without taking into account sufficiently (some would say not at all) the interests of the smaller and economically weaker member-states.

This power imbalance has led to a similar reaction by the citizens of the EU’s less robust member-states (Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain and Portugal), who perceive that policy measures are being imposed on them which they have never approved and which operate against their own interests. Increasingly, these member-states see a lack of solidarity and a democratic deficit. This imposition of power by a stronger over weaker member-states is leading in the long run to anti-German sentiment, failing cohesion and the danger of EU breakdown. Recent developments such as the immigration problem, with the reaction of the Visegrad Group (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), the erection of frontier walls or fences within the EU, and Brexit are indications of these trends.

How can such trends be reversed? 

In the modern EU, the major positions of authority, including the President, the “foreign minister” and the President of the EU Commission, are appointed after negotiations between member governments and are not open to all EU citizens. The only elected body is the European Parliament, which has the least consequence of any of the EU’s federal institutions. Is it any wonder, then, that European citizens feel mistrustful of their federal government? 

It is a clear case of EU authorities “deciding for us without us.”

We believe that EU leaders can learn from ancient greek federations, just as the American founding fathers did. ( including John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, were aware of this through their readings of Polybius, Plutarch and Livy, as attested by the Federalist Papers ).

We propose that the EU’s main positions (including President of the EU as well as President and Members of the EU Commission) should be open to all citizens and filled through European elections. As a second step toward greater democratization, we propose the introduction of popular initiatives leading to obligatory referenda with binding outcomes at the European level, based on the model of certain modern federations and countries, including Switzerland, Uruguay, New Zealand, some US states (including California), German federal states and many European cities (e.g., Vienna).

Combined, these two steps would give European citizens a greater feeling of participation in a common European future. We reject the argument that these citizens are still too immature to be burdened with such decision-making. This is a dangerous and deeply anti-democratic argument, because it implies that EU citizens, unable to make correct choices, cannot be trusted with the election of candidates. If so, why democracy at all? On the contrary, we believe that increased participation educates citizens politically – as it did in ancient democracies and federations and as it does so again today in some political systems – and makes them feel as though they have a stake in their common European political future.


for more information, please visit the "THE ANCIENT GREEK FEDERATIONS" web page

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