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Brexit and the City
27 May 2014

Paul N Goldschmidt: The time for change is now!

The people have expressed their views: Europe appears to be the big looser mainly on two counts: the first stems from the unmistakable need to “change” Europe; the second from an outdated conception of “sovereignty”.


While the call for change in Europe is unanimous, be it concerning its institutional architecture and/or its policies, there is not the slightest consensus on the modalities or purpose of such changes. It is therefore convenient for each and everyone to interpret the results of the polls as a confirmation of their own convictions.

Indeed, deep reforms on the way Europe operates are called for by those advocating its dismemberment, those calling for further integration as well as those who recommend simply limiting changes to its political orientations (austerity, immigration, energy, social model, etc.). Their objectives are totally incompatible so that none of these constituencies can claim to be the only one to understand and interpret correctly the blurred "message" supposed to be conveyed by the elector. Such a situation can only lead to institutional paralysis and ultimately to the implosion of the Union itself.

It has become necessary, more than ever, for the citizen to be provided with sufficiently objective information so that he is able to better measure the consequences of the choices that confront him. After over sixty years of existence, any transformation of the Union – whether leading to its dismantling or strengthening – must be initiated from the existing (unsatisfactory) situation. The extreme scenarios calling for an immediate return to erstwhile sovereign nation States or, on the contrary, the rapid creation of a fully fledged "Federal" Union, are both totally unrealistic and thus lack credibility.

The first alternative carries with it significant economic and social risks for every Member State whose occurrence could put into jeopardy their respective democratic framework and favour the emergence of political tensions of a bygone age. On the other hand, precipitating the Union towards federalism would not gather today the indispensable support of a large segment of public opinion and – having failed – would reinforce the likelihood of the first scenario.

Remains a more pragmatic course recommending a strictly defined evolutionary process based on a political consensus negotiated within the diverse but nevertheless “pro-European” majority returned to the European Parliament. It would prepare in all serenity the steps leading to a more fully integrated Europe, taking advantage, where necessary, of the opportunities offered by "reinforced co-operations" between Members, while fully respecting the principles of subsidiarity.



In conclusion, in the aftermath of the European elections that have shaken the political landscape, rather than succumbing to excesses of emotion and language in the interpretation of the results and without any complacency regarding the strong progression of nationalist/populist parties and its consequences, it is necessary more than ever, to convince the citizen of the considerable added value of further European integration.

Full article


Paul N Goldschmidt, Director, European Commission (ret); Member of the Advisory Board of the Thomas More Institute

Tel: +32 (02) 6475310 / +33 (04) 94732015 / Mob: +32 (0497) 549259

E-mail: / Web:

© Paul Goldschmidt

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