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Article for Bullseye - October 99 - by Paolo Zanetto
Being big and small at the same time

After the latest European elections, we need to face questions about the future, and especially about the meaning of European Union. The most valued problems in the national political debates now are often common to more than one country, and some big issue (first of all the unemployment) have to be solved with politics international-oriented, based on a strategy shared with all the members states of EU.

Actually, the political debate during the recent campaign repeated, on the background of the European Parliament, the domestic dispute between national coalitions, or among government and opposition. This way, it has been strengthen the opinion that European Union is not governed by the people, but by 'eurocracy'.

After the birth of Euro, the new challenge is to create a Europe of the people, not anymore the one of technicians or lobbies, of economy and odd regulations. We have to redefine today's role, too bureaucratic, too far from everyday needs of the citizens. But this new demand goes forward with a brand new worldwide revolution: the globalisation, the phenomenon that is shaking the bases of our way of thinking, through new technologies and beyond them. The main spotlight is moving away from the well known model nation-state, and the barriers among different countries are falling down; the competition is global, and Europe must choose either to ride the new wave, or to be overwhelmed by it.

The integration of the spur toward a really united Europe and of the pressure of globalisation is determinant for the future, and it has to be managed carefully, understanding the potentiality of the new scenario. The new problems we are facing need new solutions; if on the one hand we have to go beyond the national model and to reason at European level, on the other hand we can't forget the particularities, the identities, the local level.

One possible solution: being big and small in the same time. Conjugate the global vision with the necessities of the single areas. European Union must assume a role always more strategic, and it has to be the fundamental vision for any policy, especially in the national level. Europe must assume a precise function of political coordination, but it also has to go beyond this assignment, and to become the landmark in politics and even more in the whole society. It must be Europe to face, united, the big issues: unemployment, economics, international policy, and defence policy. This way, Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is just the first step toward an always growing role for the government of Europe: a new Commission, created on principles of ability and expertise, and not anymore with a mathematical division of the seats among member states. Even the Parliament should change, getting near the functions of the classical legislative bodies.

Though, this new EU power shouldn't mean in any sense a bureaucratic centralization, a danger that Europe often faced in the recent past. We have to apply the principle of the European federalism, that is the grant of autonomy for the local level, and the opportunity to fit the general rules in the concrete levels of application. With a double communication and management channel (from big to little, and vice-versa), European policies can co-habit and exploit the differences (cultural, historical, economical, etc.) that still divide the continent. Solving the topic of bringing together the diversities and the vision of united Europe means removing the real obstacle that part us from the European dream that, born fifty years ago, can now become true. Applying these principles doesn't imply abandoning the institution of nation-state, by declaring it old-fashioned or useless. Actually, nation remains an important dimension of politics, but new perspectives ask us to understand that the national one is not the only remarkable level for politics.

Reforms proposed for the Union should be integrated in a new global frame: we need rules for the development of EU, and we need to consider even the expansion in the eastern European countries we'll be dealing with in the next years. Without explicit rules, it's not possible to grant a strategic role for Europe, and then it's not possible to achieve an effective union among countries. Only on sure and safe bases we'll be able to build the long-dreamed Europe of the people.

Paolo Zanetto
International secretary

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