Minister Röttgen makes a strong point for the urgent necessity to seize the moment of crisis for a more general discussion of the further evolution of Europe:
In order to do so, however, he says it is important to recognize that the current crisis is not a Greek crisis or a sovereign debt crisis but above all a European crisis.
Although the European bailout mechanism has reached an incredible dimension, it does not at all solve the current problems at their root. A continuation along this current trend would on the long term be disastrous both politically and democratically as it would deprive states of their very basis of legitimacy.
Hence, there is an urgent need to look at what’s behind the current banking and sovereign debt crisis. The markets have brutally revealed Europe’s weaknesses and posed the question of Europe’s ability to act jointly.
However, this leads directly to the question of Europe’s willingness to show assertiveness in times of globalization, as globalization requires solutions that can only be found beyond the nation state. Europe’s ability to act jointly must be assured in all major policy fields that are dominated by globalization:
1. Economic and currency policy
2. Defense and foreign policy
3. Climate and biodiversity policy
All three fields pose substantive global challenges that go far beyond the nation states ability of solving them. Only if Europe manages to speak with one voice, we have the possibility to be designers of a new global order. Hence, for Europe this is a question of being or not being…
There are abundant examples of the disagreement of the European states, as for example the voting over Palestina’s access to the Unesco or the role of Europe at the climate negotiations in Kopenhagen in 2009. If Europe remains discordant, the 21st century will certainly not be a century of the West.
A new arrangement of the sovereignty of the nation states, on the one hand, and Europe, on the other hand, is necessary to be distinguished by policy field and according to the question if the policy field is one of the core fields of globalization or not. A new political order in Europe requires a sovereignty shared by European institutions and nation states. However, the fear of nation states of losing sovereignty has been very dominant, despite the fact that they are not losing much materially as the overall power of nation states is already limited.
As possible future steps in the right direction, Röttgen underlines the necessity of a new and more harmonized European financial market governance and the completion of the introduction of the euro by establishing common rules of procedure, and a true economic and fiscal union.
In the end, he says it comes down to the question if the European countries’ power and willingness for collaboration or rather the fear of loss dominate. As a technocratic, discordant and democratically not legitimized construct Europe has no future.
As one central themes for the debate on Europe he underlines the question of how to heal the democratic deficit of the European policy making.