What is the state of the Union?
Is it a state? Is it a Federation? Is the EU a clear definable political entity?
The answer to these questions has to be a clear no. In this respect, the Association AEJE wishes to add to the discussion an incentive to the ongoing thinking process towards the EU and its future. What is clear for everyone to see is that it cannot and should not become a nation-state in the classical sense,
thus not committing the same mistakes which weakened these states: Geographical centralization.
An essential component in any modern western democracy is the connection between its people and its elected representatives. What accommodates this better then the possibility to connect directly with decision makers then with the possibility to encounter them in person and watching them debate? Clearly, a diversification strategy in the EU’s publicity efforts is necessary, but that not being a call for a PR strategy. It is rather for “hands on” approach to EU affairs. Although travelling costs are at their lowest since decades, many people rather go to a closer geographical representation then to invest in a long trip. The creation or rather the upholding of more locations would allow for greater accessibility for EU citizens.
Often neglected, but in a time of modern terrorism a very real consideration, centralized geographical governance creates unnecessary risks. The choice towards bigger cities for capitals in Europe further enhances vulnerability. An observation about the attitude towards the location in Europe is interesting. Since the end of the Cold War, even Germany moved its capital away from the small town of Bonn to Berlin, in the name of unification. Yet forgetting about the ramifications of the Endeavour and the disconnect this created in many of the former Western Germany.
Centralized geographical governance has one strategic disadvantage; it unites all important heads of government on one place, thus leaving no alternative in a case of emergency. This is not to describe a Hollywood scenario, but cyber attacks or attacks on critical infrastructure could hamper the conduct of governance if it is only located in one geographical location. We propose therefore, that the EU also should discuss the choice of a single seat in the terms of challenges of the 21st century and not in the context of the 19th century in which centralization made sense.
Our globalized world can afford business to work without centralization and are better off due to the greater emergency response this offers. Why is the current debate following the same ideas which European states have been thinking for the last 500 years? Why is nobody willing to create a new vision for “capitals”? Is it still necessary to have one in which all government agencies are located?