1 – What awaits Europe – Toward Federalism?
WHAT Excerpt of the Conference given by Christopher H. Cordey, CEO of Futuratinow at The 2013 World Future 2013 Conference on July 21 in Chicago.
Frankly, Switzerland, called “the country of the middle”, has much more to offer then its quality watches, exquisite chocolates, multi-national headquarters, wealthy middle class, beautiful landscape, pharmaceuticals products, irrelevant unemployment rate, or disappearing banking secrecy. As Switzerland is a confederation using federalism as its political system, the main idea here is to outline if “Federalism is the way forward for an ailing Europe of 6 millions impatient young jobless European ?
Back in 1950, Europe was not built for economic or financial reasons but to bring peace between European countries. It was a political ambition, whose design was essentially a Franco-German compromise. But, let’s be realistic. Today, Europe is in a mess and under stress.
What started as a financial crisis back in 2009, has transformed into a economic, banking, political, institutional, societal but above all moral crisis. Europe is uncertain about its future, its own values, interests and even identity. And even the most brilliant economists, academics and thinker do not agree on what is the next best for Europe.
Today Europe survives mainly by fear of a breakout. It is perceived by some as “an elite-driven republic lacking the benefit of a democratic, pan European identity” which “institutional expansion has proceeded way ahead of the appetites of its citizens”.
But unlike many of the new emerging economic power, most of Europe is stable, largely peaceful and rather democratic, at least at the periphery. In fact, under the surface there are six differents schisms
- Germany vs. the Rest: this is the German exceptionalism. Its outstanding economic resilience generates growing negative feeling among other nations.
- France vs. Germany: both countries have divergent views on the future of Europe. Growth vs Austerity.
- North vs. Southern Europe: Competitiveness in the North clearly out passes the one in the South.
- West vs. Eastern Europe : there are still post-cold war negative resentment among countries
- Populace vs. Elite: a disillusioned, disenchanted and dispirited population.
- Old vs. Young: there are growing tensions between « the jobfull senior generation » and « the jobless and junior generation ».
According to the OECD, 6 million or 26 % of the young European are jobless. The figures reaches 60 % among the young Greek. The question is then “how to channel the young European’s energy toward « something » more positive, constructive and engaging ?” But, Europe is not only about corruption of politician, democratic deficit, youth unemployment, street riots, populism or nationalisam.
The European Union has been an amazing success story, pertaining the ashes from which it arose after WW2. Over the past decade, Europe’s major achievement include
- the emergence of the European Union & the creation of a monetary union
- the creation of a 500 millions consumers Free trade market
- the reunification of Germany
- the extension of democracy to Eastern Europe
- the improvment of national health services and welfare
- the enforcement of some human rights
Last but not least, the European Union was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize as it contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. No other nation or union of Nations has ever received such a coveted prize.
In Global Europe 2050, published in 2012 by the European Commission, three scenarios were outlined : In the first scenario, Nobody cares, Europe just muddles along with no clear vision or direction. In the second scenario, EU under Threat, EU faces a Global economic decline followed by reactionary protectionist measures. where in the last scenario, EU Renaissance, EU continues to enlarge and become stronger. It consolidates its political, fiscal and military integration.
There is a fourth scenario envisioned by Augur, a collaborative Research European Projet, that might blend into the EU Renaissance scenario. Federalism, could prove to be as a possible way forward for Europe.
Federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial governments. But can federalism provide solutions to the EU’s current crises of confidence and democratic legitimacy ?
Can the Swiss Federalism model and experience point the way forward ? Switzerland is a very prosperous small country of 8 millions people located in the center of Europe. The country – beloved by China with which it signed an historical free trade agrement – owes its current prosperity, security (or least perceived) and stability to a certain number of factors, of which :
- Its size and strategic geographical location.
- Direct Democracy – « We (citizen) are the State »
- Subsidiarity Principle – « Complete decentralisation »
- Non-Professional Politicians
- Safe Haven for Capital and Brainpower …
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