How do we make Europe more democratic, more peaceful, how do we build an Europe which works for her citizens, and it is guided by popular will rather than the political games of an unelected leadership? This issue must be addressed on two levels, because it has to do with both the Lisbon Treaty's democratic legitimacy; and then it has do to with the homeopathic nature of European "democracy" itself; and then of course we have the problem that without a properly functioning government, and a proper distribution of power the EU is bound to enact policies which favour foreign interests rather than European interests. I'll also outline some possible solutions and proposals after I've outlined the problems.
Is the Lisbon Treaty legitimate, under the purely democratic point of view? Not really, in my opinion. When the European leaders tried to approve a European Constitution (2005), it didn't really work, as people were adamantly against it (France and The Netherlands held a referendum about it, and the population refused it). So in order to impose their will over the population anyway, they just took the word "Constitution" out of it and they passed it by themselves, without consulting the population at all. Now, does this sound democratic at all? Can you imagine if other countries would do it?
The next issue is the homeopathic nature of European Democracy; also known as the European Democratic Deficit. What is it? It means that as a matter of fact, European citizens cannot vote for those who are actually going to create the strategy and enact the main policies of the EU. The citizens vote for the Parliament, but not for the Head of Commission, which is the only political figure in the EU with FULL legislative powers, and the High Representative of Europe for foreign affairs, which is the figure who will decide for example, if (when) we're going to start the next Democratic War. EH.
The argumentation the current unelected leadership uses to gaslight the part of the population who complains about the structural failures in the European political and governance structure is, besides accusing everyone of being a foreign asset, that "no, actually, the Government of Europe is democratic because the Commission is chosen by the elected leaders of countries". Eh. In homeopathy, the more the active principle gets diluted, the stronger it is - as water remembers and amplifies the effectiveness of the active principle; in the Great European Democracy the less control people have over who’s going to take all the decisions and who’s getting to which institutional position, the stronger the Democracy is - as democracy remembers, that people voted for their own national parliaments in the first place.
So the decisions regarding the European Union are all taken by unelected figures, who get their power because of internal power-sharing deals; and surprise surprise, it is always the same aggressive countries, who are the ones backed by a foreign government, which have the most say about everything.
Shall we crash the whole thing, or can we fix it?
As a European Federalist, I do believe we can fix it, but only if the leadership is willing to admit that the current structural failures and lack of popular control over the institutions is the main reason behind the populist wave and especially, behind the opposition to the European Union as an institution itself.
How a roadmap for a better Europe could look like:
1. A reform of the Lisbon Treaty. Democracy as a value needs to be stricken out and substituted by actual values, like respect for others, human fraternity, or peace. Something that will not allow the leadership to coerce and bully other nations in changing their government, something which is compliant with the principle of Sovereign Equality as stated in the UN Charter and the OSCE Helsinki Final Act. The European Union should also reject war (and this includes trade wars and covert wars) as a mean of coercion against other states.
2. If you want the people to approve of the EU instead of pushing against it you need to involve the population in the decision making process. Here are some ideas on how this can happen:
by involving the population into defining the core values at the base of the European Union and her foreign policy. This can be enacted by creating transnational working groups, for example. This is also needed to increase approval ratings for the EU, as since 2014 they have been dwindling (see Brexit).
by supporting a process which would lead to the direct election of the European political figure with all of the powers. That is, the Head of Commission (and the whole of the Commission as well). European foreign policy and European military should be brought into the sphere of awareness and control of the population. As a matter of fact, a 2014 survey showed that Europeans were overwhelmingly in favour of electing the Head of Commission and having a common European Foreign Policy. It is absurd that certain countries are allowed to start wars which destabilise half of Europe while playing the "humanitarian" "good" leaders. European foreign policy needs to benefit the whole continent, not the usual in-crowd.
by restoring European press independence and choose a cohort of European agencies to get the inside look and reporting in the Union instead of American-German corporate media outlet pro-war politico.eu.
by systematically choosing to pursue European interests rather than American interests (such as it was the case with the JCPOA, the EU decided not to make INSTEX viable because that would have upset the United States, and decided to hit and damage European SMEs rather than the US).
By starting these processes, it is indeed possible that the pushback the European Union is experiencing would decrease. In my opinion, it is either reforms, guided and enacted under the people's will or an eventual crash, because if I won't be granted full political rights, even if I am a European Federalist, I will eventually grow tired myself and start pushing to crash everything. And when people like me, the Federalists, lose trust in the EU, then there is no salvage possible, isn't it?