July 10, 2012
In the next 12 years the EU will be confronted with profound changes and look very different from today.
It will comprise close to 35 member States, with seven additions from the Western Balkans. This will further complicated EU governance.
Differentiation among member States will further increase, the most important being the division between EMU and non-EMU countries. By 2025 the number of EMU Members will have grown to more than 20. Sweden and Denmark are likely to have joined like Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. By 2030 only the UK might still be outside the EMU on the basis of its opt-out clause. But even that is by no means sure. With the consolidation of EMU UK might be also be induced to join, if only to protect the role of the City.
The Euro Group will have developed into the most powerful governance body within the EU.
The EU will resort more f frequently to enhanced cooperation, as we have seen with the Schengen Pact, the European patent Convention and the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG).
Single external representation of the 35 odd member countries will have become the rule. The 35 mostly tiny EU countries have no chance of external influence except by pooling their forces. The EEAS will progressively replace Member States’ embassies in most of the 200-odd UN member countries. Only France, Germany and UK will still be able and willing to maintain bilateral diplomatic representations across the world.
Within the EU the weight of different actors will shift:
- The ECB will have become the most powerful institution. comparable to the FED. with a dominant influence on the stability of financial institutions and solidity of member states’ finance in the EMU.
- The Commission will have become the cohesive force within the system, with enlarged powers in policy formulation and monitoring of member states’ implementation of policies.
- The EP will have to insure the democratic legitimacy of the EU system of governance.
For the success of this “vision” it will be crucial to restrain from rewriting the Treaties. Member should, as far as possible, resort to simplified procedures without national ratifications and keep the changes to a minimum.
- The Commission President should in future be elected by the EP, say with two thirds of its members. The idea of having the President elected by popular vote is not very practical in a Union with more than 30 countries and more than 25 languages.
- This change will put an end to each member states having “its” Commissioner.
- The number of Commissioners should no longer be fixed by the Treaty. It will be up to elected President to compose the “Cabinet” and have it approved by vote of confidence by the EP. This would turn the EU into a parliamentary democracy comparable to the situation in most member countries.
- These changes should intervene before completing the West Balkan enlargement process, say by 2019 when a new Commission and EP will be formed. Otherwise it will become next to impossible to get it passed.
- There is no need to have a separate “European finance minister”; the Commission member in charge of public finance will assume that role, mandated by the EP through the vote of confidence.
- The formation of different groups of Member states should not create any problems for the functioning of the EP: MEPs from non-EMU countries will simply have to abstain from voting on EM issues.