The EU cannot let itself turn into hodgepodge of political directives and guidelines, writes parliamentarian Elmar Brok for DW-WORLD.DE. He said the bloc needs to focus on the internal market, the euro and expansion.
The EU has to maintain social equality as the storm of globalization spreads, said Brok
Elmar Brok, from Germany's Christian Democratic Union, is a member of the European Parliament. He is part of the European party's board and was its representative to the intergovernmental conference that negotiated the Lisbon Treaty.
The European Union is the most successful political project in German and European history. Never before have peace, freedom, prosperity and social development coexisted for such a long time. After several rounds of expansion and advanced political integration there are nearly 500 million people in this community of laws and values. Now the European Union has to consolidate and concentrate its efforts in order to successfully confront expanded Europe's new internal and external challenges.
Elmar Brok said the Lisbon Treaty would benefit the EU
The Irish "no" to the Lisbon Treaty has started discussions in many places about European unity and the methods used to achieve it. There have been well-meant suggestions as well as deceitful appearances by Euro-skeptics.
The treaty, which was unfortunately not contextually based on the clear form of the Constitutional Treaty draft, is meant to serve as an answer to the shortcomings of the EU. Its rejection has prevented necessary reforms from taking place. It's a bizarre situation. One sometimes gets the feeling that some of the treaty's opponents have never read the text.
Democratic shortfalls, fears of losing sovereignty, insufficient civil rights, social inequity, Europe as a part of globalization's problems and an orientation that lacks in values are all among the current points of discussion.
Awaiting European answers
Many citizens also expect additional European solutions in questions of foreign and defense policy, the fight against organized crime and terrorism, a fair regulatory framework to deal with the globalized economy, migration, energy security and climate change. Many citizens have recognized that individual small and medium-sized nations cannot overcome these challenges on their own. Sovereignty for our people can only be retrieved when we work together.
The Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty has set the EU back, again
The clear allocation of authority and the strengthening of the subsidiarity principle, the strengthening of national parliaments and the European Parliament as lawmakers on equal footing with the Council, the expansion of majority decision making in the EU Council to key areas including justice and interior affairs, ensuring the legal force of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the extension of EU foreign and defense policy with a "foreign minister" would give the EU improved instruments and mechanisms to use its political and economic strength optimally and responsibly.
The notion that the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty will lead to the "destruction" of the existing system and allow a new Europe to emerge is wrong. Instead the Treaty of Nice will remain in effect and leave less democracy, capability to act, subsidiarity control and transparency.
On the contrary, there would be a danger that a new European core -- based on a shared legal system that is the actual key to successful European integration -- could emerge and change the bloc into a patchwork, intergovernmental Europe dominated by larger nations, which historical experience has pushed us to overcome. That's why we Germans, in particular, want to live with our neighbors in a legal system that does not create first, second and third-class nations.
EU part of the globalization problem
But it also has to be clear that citizens are concerned by the problems posed by globalization and that they see Europe as a part of the problem rather than part of the solution. That's a reason why the EU has to succeed at combining competitiveness and social equality and offering protection in the sea of globalization.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights and the social horizontal clause in the new treaty would play a part in addressing those concerns. This is also true for the protection of national and cultural identity and the EU's "unity in diversity."
The EU needs to cut back on bureaucracy and show some results
The EU needs a phase of consolidating its efforts to the internal market, the euro and expansion. The implementation of legislation needs to have priority over creating new laws. Expansion also cannot continue at the same pace. First of all, however, after the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon, there needs to be a stop to institutional debates. Our institutions have to concentrate on what citizens see as essential.
Cooperation must bring practical results
The EU has to win over citizens by showing practical results. The feeling that the EU mistreats its citizens with over-regulation has to be avoided. The economic and social advantages for citizens, consumer protection for mature citizens, environmental protection in tune with economic and social policies are areas in which the EU has been extremely successful -- as well as areas where it once in a while went overboard.
Above all, it needs to be made clear that cooperation is the only way we Europeans can successfully represent our political and economic interests around the world. It is only through cooperation that we will be able to implement our valued-based policies that focus on prevention in the trans-Atlantic alliance and represent our interests in dealing with China, India and Russia.
This also applies to the implementation of democracy the rule of law and stability in our neighborhood.