My Voice on the Future of Europe

The group Citizens take over Europe asked me to fill out a survey on the eve of the Conference of the Future of Europe (where I posted a novel approach of the parliament seat in Straatsburg).

Part 1: Your thoughts and experiences

1.1 Overall how do you feel about the future of the European Union?

I answered with my personality characteristics because it is about feelings. I expect others to do the same. Since personality characteristcs are randomly distributed in the population it should all even out if the respondents are randomly selected. In other words, this question only is useful to check if the respondents are representative for the general population. I expect they are not.

1.2 What does European citizenship mean to you, if anything at all?

Be a citizen in a memberstate of the EU.

1.3 Please finish the following sentence to describe your relationship to the European Union: ‘the European Union for me is like…

A civilisation process in the words of Norbert Elias. Which means that it full of meetings, dialogue and compromises. The more complex the outcome of negotiations are, the more likely it is that everybody is equally happy and unhappy. Everybody is both winner and looser, very democratic.

Next are some statements to help reflect on what you have told us…  Please drag the marker in the triangle to the position that best describes your thoughts and feelings.  You can place the ball anywhere in the triangle.  The closer you are to each corner, the stronger this statement is for you.  If all three apply equally, you can place it in the centre. If a statement is not relevant or applicable for your decision or experience, you can click the N/A box. See the example below:

1.4 My thoughts about European Union are shaped by… the impact it has on my life and those around me / my national identity & culture / my self-image as a citizen of Europe and the world

Close to self-image (cosmopolitan, rational, educated, etc.) and not so much impact, furthest away from national identity & culture. But not completely.

1.5 Whom do you trust to secure and protect your rights?

Individuals such as myself and like minded people / The country I live in / The European Union

The country I live in. Monopoly of violence is in the hands of the state after all. Not the EU.

Please move the marker on the sliding scale below to a position that best reflects your thoughts. The closer you put the marker to the statement the more strongly you agree with it, if you agree equally you can place the marker in the centre.

1.6 I think that the European Union… Strengthens democracy – Weakens democracy

Closer to strengthents when I think of all member states. Some come from far and benefit from the EU in that sense. Member states won’t give up democratic elements to the EU if they have them. Because of undemocratic structures in the EU some gets lost but in terms of democratic culture (right of law, subsidiarity, compromise, representative parliament) the balance is still positive. Those crying that the EU is threatening democracy are the ones from the past and have lost on certain issues and blame the EU.

2.1 Thinking about the future, I would like to see a European Union in which…

with more power to the parliament and less to the member-states in the European council the Council of Ministers.

2.2 In order to achieve this vision, where must leadership come from?

Citizens, residents and civil society / EU member states / European Union institutions

Formally, EU member states. Because it matters what they decide. Great if it (also) comes from the others. Without the member states they are as relevant as wall paper.

2.3 Going forward, the European Union needs more… Shared values, goals and commitments / Democracy and citizen participation / National autonomy for member states

Actually, a shared European culture (in diversity). You can achieve those with a mix of the above. Although national autonomy does not help if it is anti-European.

2.4 To strengthen democracy in the EU, the EU needs to … Involve citizens more directly in EU decision making / Strengthen the role and influence of elected representatives / Increase and improve deliberation among citizens and with decision-makers

Role and influence of representatives firstly. You can not bypass the mandate of the parliament with fancy deliberative or direct democracy structures. Those can be hijacked by committed and organised opponents if indifferent citizens do not show up. Elections are more representative in that sense. Deliberation can be organised properly, and interesting, but fix parliament first I would say.

2.5 In order to achieve my vision for the future Europe, the European Union needs more…

time. The EU always needs more time.

2.6 In order to achieve my vision for the future Europe, the European Union needs less…

revolutions and just some treaty changes to fix what is manifestly wrong.

We would like to know more about how you feel about citizens’ participation in EU democratic projects…
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stated in mid-2019: “I want Europeans to build the future of our Union. They should play a leading and active part in setting our priorities and our level of ambition. I want citizens to have their say at a Conference on the Future of Europe, to start in 2020 and run for two years.The Conference should bring together citizens, including a significant role for young people, civil society and European institutions as equal partners.” (Source: European Commission Political Guidelines 2019-2024)

3.1 What are your hopes for the Conference on the Future of Europe, if any at all?

Less top down initiatives like this. Facilitate what is already knocking on your door.

3.2 What are your fears for the Conference on the Future of Europe, if any at all?

Some head of state or Commisioner launching grandiose new plans without first fixing what it manifestly wrong but requires some humble behaviour to hand in powers.

3.3 Citizens’ and civil society’s participation in the Conference on the Future of Europe should focus on… Setting common goals / Connecting people across Europe / Generating propositions for solving the big challenges of our time

Without a legislative structure common goals are just talk in thin air. To connect across Europe you need to meet in person. There are enough propositions for solving big challenges, we need the EU to act upon them.

3.4 In what ways would you like to be engaged in the Conference on the Future of Europe, if at all?

ask me as a keynote speaker.

3.5 My preferred way to participate in decision making is… Shape the agenda and make proposals at the earliest possible stage / Vote on things once they are formulated

The first is the most important of course.

Just a few questions about you…

What is your gender? Male How old are you? 45-54 Where do you live? Nethderlands (sic!)