Brexit has shaken our confidence in the European Union; the talks about the reforms are on the top of Juncker’s, Schulz’s and Tusk’s agendas. In which direction should the European project move? Due to the ghost of Brexit, the reform process is a race against the clock. If the UK performs better in the long run (it is always easier to solve problems in small countries, let alone international organisations) and Europe stays with its old problems by identifying ways forwards, one cannot be sure that the European project will survive the XXI century. It’s hard to imagine for many of us, but I remember during my studies in 2007 when a professor of law mentioned the possibility of Brexit. Nobody from the class believed him, among them me.
First of all, the EU needs to have a vision. What is the purpose of the European Union? What goals are to be achieved in the distance future, let say in 50 years? Do the politicians want to transform the EU into the United States of Europe, or rather retreat to the economic union?
The EU needs to reject all these half-measures, which are by their very nature insufficient. The EU cannot be half United States of Europe anymore (what it is for the time being and hence it generates many problems). In this scenario, Europe remains week inside and outside of the continent. The current project cannot solve internal problems, such as euro and external such as immigration. Furthermore, Europe is not an equal partner for the great powers of the 21 century.
The EU, as well as its Members States, need to admit, that the post-Maastricht political integration process was a mistake. Maastricht was a result of French (and British) fears over German reunification. The countries strived to this treaty (which started the EU current political integration) hoping that politically integrated it will be easier to overcome German hegemony in Europe. The leading child of the treaty has been the European currency – euro. However, the EU had not integrated economically enough the old continent. Besides, the 2004 adhesion of mostly the post communistic countries (except Malta and Cyprus) added fuel to the fire. Most of them were in the economic and political transition. Neither the new states nor the old 15 club was ready for such enlargement. For many years the politicians wrongly believed that more countries could also meld the power of one nation (see Germany). It was an entirely wrong assumption.
There are two ways to overcome the post-Brexit challenges. Either the EU decides to go into deeper political integration with the objective to create the United States of Europe or return to the purely economic union. For the first scenario, it should be remembered that the process of integration of the USA lasted for more than a century (from 1776 to 1914). In that period the USA integrated new territories mainly with the use of economic tools. Oddly enough, the US suffered even a civil war in the middle of the 19 century. Thus, the political union is not something that can be achieved in ten or twenty years.
My suggestion is to go to the political union by the economic integration. The EU looks in Bulgaria and Nederland like chalk and cheese. However, in 30 years the EU can integrate the territories to a greater extent. The EU needs, however, one thing- a common language. After Brexit, the English language will remain a language not associated with any European countries (the official language in Ireland is Irish) will not bias any state. The English language is also widely spoken among a young generation of the European (which one day will shape the future of the continent). Furthermore, English is the language of all relevant international organisations.
The EU shall put all its forces to create a European dialect of English, apart from American English and British English. For that, the EU needs resources to distribute at the European level. With two, three decades the EU can make European English a second language for everybody in Europe.