Dimitris Rapidis

It is to my great surprise that until now there is nothing to discuss on the forthcoming European Elections on May. Probably it is early to deal with, but the only information we have concerns the possible candidacies for the head of the European Commission. I firmly believe that the debate over the issues of our European concern should be launched, both in national and European level. These issues are plenty, and it is evident that the European citizens lack considerable information when it comes to the European Union and the proposed solutions to pending problems.

Through this platform we will try to address some of the most crucial issues of the European Union, from austerity politics to military expenditures, from social policy to immigration, from neighboring policy to institutional reforms. The wave of euroscepticism grows significantly these last years with reference to austerity politics, but this is not the entire story. The European Union is actually faced with democratic deficit, not only in overdebted member-states, but in a wider context. It is plausible to put the blame on the European leaders, but it is more accurate to prepare ourselves and develop more critical approaches and active behaviors.

One of the major issues of the European Union, and to similar extent of democracy, is the shortage of means of participatory democracy, and the fact that EU citizens feel deserted from the decision-making process. The roles and powers of the European Parliament are restricted or at least vaguely narrowed comparing to the European Commission’s ones. The essence of the Presidency of the European Council lacks significant justification and decisiveness, and the balance between power stability amongst the member-states is completely lost. Other states are stronger, other states are weaker, but there is a group of member-states that due to various reasons decide in the expense of the unity and solidarity of the European Union altogether.

Alongside, the migration policy of the EU is entrenched with considerable policy and implementation gaps that impede a fair and just confrontation of illegal migration and the proper evaluation of asylum seekers. Budget allocation is equally encompassed with similar deficiencies, both in terms of social policy and the welfare character of the European Union, as well as in terms of youth entrepreneurship. Military expenditures for some states, including Greece for instance, are irrelevantly higher comparing to the capacities of its economy, especially when such expenditures cannot guarantee a safe geopolitical framework for the country and the provision of a European defensive and preemptive mechanism and army.

Furthermore, the enlargement process has been put under scrutiny with no essential programming and prospective development. Amongst the countries that are concerned with, we find Turkey and the states of Eastern Balkan. The prerequisites for admission and the negotiation chapters have long been stalled, and this can turn to be a major drawback both for the credibility of the European Union, as well as for the democratic stability and development in the aforementioned areas. In this respect, there is an unexpected imbalance between the importance that the EU gives in neighboring policy outside the adjacent regions (i.e. Balkans) and the wider spheres of EU’s geopolitical interest (i.e. Middle East, North Africa).

What is more, the European Union has not achieved to deal with the capacity and investing cap of youth entrepreneurship and employment, an area which is inextricably linked with additional fields, such as research, innovation, social security, and employment benefits. From this perspective, youth unemployment, which has reached historically high levels, seems to evade from the very notion of social, economic, and generational inclusion, and proves to be a policy field that necessitates deep-rooted and cross-country policies and initiatives.

These and other issues of European concern should be included in the debate towards the European Elections of May 2014. Through this channel we will try to unveil them, discuss about them, and propose possible solutions in order to abide by our deepest vision for a more inclusive and prosperous Europe for all its regions and populations.

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