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Vision Europe 2020: Reinventing Europe 2005-2020 – The 14 strategic proposals (Franck Biancheri, 2002)

Vision Europe 2020: Reinventing Europe 2005-2020 – The 14 strategic proposals (Franck Biancheri, 2002)

The vision of one man named Franck Biancheri, for the democratic future of Europe until 2020. We are far behind… In 2005, Franck Biancheri founded the first trans-European political party, the Newropeans, after a first experience in 1989 with IDE (Initiative pour une Démocratie Européenne). Immediately after, the party seized the 15 proposals submitted by Franck  Biancheri in June 2002, in his book entitled “VISION 2020: Reinventing Europe, 2005-2020“. First 14, these proposals became 15 for the purpose of a marathon of conferences for European democracy  between 2002 and 2003. These conferences allowed Franck Biancheri to meet and have discussions with more than 10,000 EU citizens in over 100 European cities on the topic  “Where is Europe Going? Bring democracy to new frontiers in terms of size and diversity“. These  later became the 16 proposals and the matrix of the Newropeans programme for the elections of 2009 and were translated into 20 European languages. (Abstract: “16 proposals Vision 2020: Reinventing Europe, 2005-2020 -Background“, AAFB, 20/12/2016)

Introduction

The European integration process launched in the 50s is a successwhich has allowed the pacific creation of a continental unity, and that has helped to ensure the prosperity of its inhabitants.

This remarkable historical innovation was rendered possible, in a large part, by the institutions and the original method established forty years ago, and adapted to the political conditions of that time.This system and this method are today obsolete, outdated by their own success. They can no longer handle the consequences of what they brought to life, nor do they correspond to world as it looks today and tomorrow.

This obsolescence has been confirmed over a number of years with multiple crises of the EU, affecting its internal functioning,leading to a paralysis in EU decision making on major subjects, a confusion of responsibilities, creating doubts and worries among citizens.

The key problem of Europe in the decades to come is thus to reconcile the aspirations of democracy, unity and effective action:Europe no longer needs to be built, but rather to be governed effectively and democratically.The Euro has been the catalyst for such an evolution.

This new situation determines a major change in which forces will decide on the future of Europe. The administrations, the real ” builders ” of Europe in the last five decades, must now hand over the relay baton to the tandem of politicians and citizens.In any case, it will be public opinions that will shape Europe in the years to come.

This democratic transition of the community project constitutes a very delicate period of existence:the initial reasons which justified the transfer of competencies (the war, reconciliation and reconstruction) are now increasingly distant; the ageing, relatively well-to-do, population is not favourable to innovation, many Europeans are increasingly worried about their future in a world perceived as hostile, and then there is the arrival of numerous, and little known new members. These factors are accompanied by a rise in populist politics, to which the States and traditional political parties are poorly placed to respond. But it is these very states and parties, which are today weakened, that historically supported the community project. They have not yet found any equivalents on the pan-European level.

Europe is therefore entering into decisive historic phase, which either will see it establishing as the first successful democratic integration of a continent, or else that will see it veer off towards an anti-democratic and xenophobic national-Europeanism,and thus towards its certain death as a historic project.

The route chosen will be determined by the ability of Europeans to do three things simultaneously in the coming years:

  • to return politicians to the command of the European Union under an effective democratic control of citizens, in order to make them the central actors of the European collective interest ;
  • to reorganise fundamentally the community administrative system, in order to turn it into an instrument adapted to the challenges of Europe in the next decades, and submitted to democratic political control ;
  • to take full international responsibility for building a world where the European values of democracy, liberty, peace and prosperity are able to flourish.

The following document, Vision Europe 2020, constitutes the first integral, coherent, European project, thought up by the under 40 generation, destined to allow Europeans to choose the road to a democratic prosperous and responsible future.Its authors are convinced, that at this time, ther e are only two possible choices. The one presented here, or the other, which has been emerging in the past years which will steer the EU towards the path of nation-Europeanism, turning the back on the world, a weakening of democracy, which Europe 2020 has already presented in its November 1998 Scenario “Europe 2009: when the grand children of Hitler, Petain, Franco and Mussolini take power in the EU “.

The 14 strategic proposals

1. Channel change to avoid chaos; Pace European construction to give a chance to breathe :

One should foresee
every ten years, starting from 2002, the organisation of a ” Convention “, made of elected officials, destined to evaluate the state of European integration
, and to propose the necessary structural adaptations.

+ Added Value: Democracy, Efficiency, Adjustability, Evolution

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2012

2. Bring together the common institutions of the peoples; Anchor the European Union in the long term; Establish a strong global visibility for the United Europe :

One has to look again at the geographical location of the European institutions, and break out of the Brussels – Luxembourg – Strasbourg historical axis.
The central institutions should be divided between London, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels and The Hague (EuroRing 1)
and the other community institutions between the other European capitals: Dublin, Madrid, Rome, Vienna, Budapest, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Copenhagen , Athens, Lisbon, Stockholm, … (EuroRing 2).
These towns will constitute the network of European capitals.

+ Added Value: Closeness to the people, Osmosis with the European network society, Compatibility with efficiency requirements, Enhancement of international credibility

Decision: 2005/2006 – Implementation: 2008-2015

3. Democratise and thus simplify the community political system to render it more comprehensible, and thus more controllable by the citizens:

Europe should now be governed and no longer built. In a democracy, the two key functions, executive and legislative, correspond to two entities only, and not three as in the EU today. And the competences are not shared, so as to avoid the multiplication of obscure and incomprehensible procedures. Politically there is one institution too many, and there is no doubt that it is the Commission.
A European Government should be created. It should take responsibility for the European executive, assimilating the current executive functions of the Commission and Council.

The European Parliament will form the legislative branch, assimilating the current legislative functions of the Council and Parliament. These two political institutions will together incarnate the common interest of the European Union.
The European budget will be voted on for five years by each new European legislature in necessary agreement with the European Government. Naturally, it will only deal with spending under common policies.
In order to associate citizens to European responsibilities, the funding of the budget could be bound into a single visible source in the shape of a ” European tax “.

+ Added Value: 100% democratic anchoring of the 2 key institutions, democratisation of the understanding of the decision-making process, empowerment of the elected officials

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2006

4. Anchor the legislative component of European politics in national or regional identities as well as the common European identity; Assure its visibility by placing this common legislative power in one single institution:

In order to take over an important political role, the European parliament must be able to integrate the 2 (or 3) identitie s which make up each European.
50% of its members should thus be elected on trans-European lists at the level of the EU, and 50% of them should be elected at national level (or regional, depending on the choice of each country) by citizens, or even by national (or regional) parliaments.

+ Added Value: Avoiding the complexity and conflicts of a two chambers’ system, Strengthening significantly the legitimacy of the Parliament, Democratizing by giving each citizen 2 votes: national (or regional) and European, generating a political and electoral common layer

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2009

5. Reinforce the decision-making capacity and representation of the EU:

The political executive of the EU should be easily identifiable inside as well as outside.
One should therefore create a President of the European Government, elected from and by his/her peers (heads of State or of Government in office) for a period of 3 years.
He/she must then abandon their national responsibilities as the primary player in the European executive must not be exerted by a political ” has been ” but rather by a politician who has deliberately decided for this job. The President of the European Government will incarnate all the distinct aspects of the European common policies and will be helped on an ad hoc basis by the other members of the European Government. The system of a chairman (designating a role of moderator or referee) is maintained on the current 6 monthly rotating basis (” Chair “) with a troika of past and future (” Chairs “) assisting. The Chair helps the President of the European Government in his role and chairs the meetings.

+ Added Value: Insuring the democratic legitimacy of the EU leadership, Forcing national leaders on considering the EU as a full-fledged political layer, Allowing all Member-States to take over leadership by turns.

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2009

6. Ensure a healthy competition and an effective control between the community executive and legislature; as well as between the European and national levels:

The European Parliament must have a complete right of legislative initiative, shared with the European Government, and which carried out, when concerning common policies, by an integrated administration, the European Common Administration (ECA).
In inter-governmental policies, the right of initiative belongs naturally to national governments and parliaments. The initiative to shift a policy from one level of responsibility to another (common or inter-governmental) belongs to the European Government alone.

+ Added Value: Simplifying, Empowering, Strengthening the decision making process

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2009

7. Reinforce the legitimacy, and therefore the operational efficiency and political control of the community administrative system:

As with any administration, the European administration must be efficient, in the service of the public, and responsible for the implementation of political decisions. It must therefore be subject to the executive authority of the European Government, and organised according to the decisions it takes into two key administrative organs : one integrated composed of those parts that run common policies, called Common European Administration (CEA); one for inter-governmental issues, the Council of European Ministers (CEM), which runs inter-governmental policies. The integrated component, the CEA, should be formed from parts of the Commission, and refocused on essential jobs, and restored in its primary vocation as an innovative administration.
The college of Commissioners is eliminated, whilst the Secretary General of the ECA is helped by principal Directors General (for Trade, Internal Market, Competition, Agricultural and Fisheries Policy, Secu rity and fight against trans-national crime, Immigration, relations with privileged neighbours development; and the macro-economic and budgetary policy for Euroland countries only), must be given real management authority.
The other functions of the current Commission are transferred to the inter-governmental branch (CEM), or are confided to autonomous agencies, or are eliminated.
The European Court of Justice becomes the sole guardian of the treaties

+ Added Value: Strengthening the democratic control upon the European institutions, Focusing the Common executive on its central competences, Implementing subsidiarity

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2009

8. Render the action of the EU in the world efficient, whilst still retaining the diversity and wealth of Member States’ bilateral relations:

the existence of common policies under the sole authority of the European Government and European Parliament forces that the handling of the
des
external aspects of these policies be given to a single responsible political figure (
Minister of Common External Relations Communes – MCERC) and to integrate into a single administration the relevant administrative competences (Trade, Agriculture, Competition, Development, …) (Common European Embassies)
. He or she is chosen by the President of the European Government from among the current Ministers of Foreign Affairs in office on the national level (and has to be a different nationality to the President of the European Government). He/she co-ordinates with the ministers of Defence of the EU the implementation of a common rapid reaction force. All other fields of external policy are naturally left in the hands of Member States and their diplomatic corps.

+ Added Value: Consistency of the internal and external EU action, Insuring consistency between the President of the European Government and the Minister of Common External Relations, Strengthening the image and the weight of the EU worldwide

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2009

9. Show concern and particular attention to the close neighbourhood of the EU – Re-dynamising the Council of Europe as the key actor of the “European Neighbourhood” :

This close neighbourhood is made up of very disparate types of countries: from Russia to Morocco. They all have the common point of being historical and privileged partners of the European Union, without for that much having necessarily a vocation to join in the next few decades.
It is therefore essential to grand them the Status of Privileged Neighbours (SPN) giving them access to a multitude of preferential agreements in all sectors, without necessarily placing this policy in a logic of coming accession. To put these preferential policies into place, in the inter-governmental areas, it is necessary to re-dynamise the Council of Europe, notably in areas covering ethics, culture, science, education…
It must be the institution which stimulates the sharing of common European values in the European neighbourhood. A part of the funds freed from the community budgets by the suppression of needless Commission Directorates General could be re-affected to the Council of Europe.

+ Added Value: Getting out of the infernal spiral of accessions, Strengthening of the geo-political environment of the EU, Linking the EU to its neighbours in a sustainable way

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2009

10. Train and manage the men and women who make the European machine work:

The best designs do not work if they lack the necessary people. This need is expressed both in terms of politicians and civil servants. As regards officials, it is essential to avoid a bureaucratisation of the system and
thus one should limit all careers to a maximum of ten years in the s ame community institution, whilst making it easier to pass between the different community and national administrations as well as the private sector, and imposing the requirement to master at least three languages. For politicians, the knowledge of at least one foreign language should be a requirement in order to be accepted as a candidate for Euro-Parliamentarian.

+ Added Value: Insuring competence and dynamism, Closing the gap between the European administration and European society, Creating a truly European civil service

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2009

11. Avoid the tower of Babel whilst still preserving linguistic diversity:

Linguistic diversity is indispensable to the legitimacy of the European construction process. A certain rationalisation is however necessary, as much for budgetary reasons as for efficiency. Otherwise, the complexity and the growing cost of the system of interpretations will otherwise lead to apoplexy and a rejection of the institutions.

It is therefore necessary to adopt a system with several layers: Two working languages for informal administrative meetings (English – French), Five languages for official work (English – French – German – Spanish – Polish), all other languages for communications and public meetings (e.g.: plenary sessions of Parliament)
. An analogous procedure should be followed for the working documents and official texts. A vast European programme of research promoting automatic translation should be launched in parallel, whilst language courses ought to be made available in all national and regional parliaments.

+ Added Value: Preserving the linguistic diversity whilst ensuring a good operative functioning, Ensuring democratic access to debates and information

Decision: 2004/2005 – Implementation: 2006

12. Push back real enlargement to 2006/2007 to ensure a successful European Union :

The success of the enlarged European Union is a real historical challenge: The current enlargement is only a step on this road.
The European Union did not use the 90s to prepare itself for enlargement, and the candidate countries have prepared themselves primarily to meet the formal criteria and to start economic reforms. Neither are really ready for a successful enlargement in the 2002-2004 time frame.
The hankering after the “official ” date risks compromising the historic project, whilst 2-3 years delay would permit the EU to succeed fully, by making sure it is structurally and politically ready to receive new members – and that the candidate countries are socially and politically ready to take this important step.
The Copenhagen Summit must establish a real political calendar for enlargement, committing the heads of State and of Government of the EU, as well as the candidate countries before their public opinions.
This is far from being the case today in the EU as regards the official calendar.
And this enlargement must be accompanied by a vast communication campaign on the utility of enlargement for the EU, concluded by referendum.

+ Added Value: Achieving the democratic unity of the continent by 2010, Avoiding rejection and populism from both sides, Democratizing by involving public opinions

Decision: 2002 – Implementation: 2006

13. Communautarise Security policy and the fight against trans-national crime:

The internal market without frontiers, the Euro, enlargement, terrorism, the Internet, all force the European Union to manage more efficiently the fight against trans-national crime, which is more and more professional and expert.
The interests of the Union must be preserved, just as must those of its citizens. The creation of an integrated customs network, of a European prosecutor, assisted by a European criminal police (networked from national police forces) and an ad hoc network of European magistrates will allow the EU to face up to this rising risks.

+ Added Value: Building up the internal and external credibility of the EU, Using the “dimension factor”, Reducing the fears linked to the Enlargement

Decision: 2002/2004 – Implementation: 2006

14. Adopt a common framework on immigration which is to be implemented on the national level:

For the European Union, immigration is an inevitable, necessary and useful phenomenon, but which has to be mastered on two levels: control of the migratory flows in order to limit as much as possible illegal immigration ; control of the integration process of immigrants, to ensure that there children feel fully-fledged Europeans.
As regards the flows, the EU must play as much on the common protection of the frontiers (common customs, common rules…) as on the good neighbourhood, trade and development (increased aid with reinforced efficiency, focused on specific issues, sanctions against unco-operative states); As regards integration, its refusal by the immigrant must become synonymous with return to their country of origin, whilst the public authorities (for the most part national, but in a common strategic framework) must ensure that this integration is effective and come down hard on any form of racial or religious discrimination.

+ Added Value: Empowering all the Europeans for one of the most important challenge of the coming decades, Basing a trust in our common values and their future, Linking the EU with its neighbours, Ensuring the EU dynamism.

Decision: 2002/2004 – Implementation: 2005

. . . . .

Franck Biancheri, VISION EUROPE 2020 Réinventer l’Europe 2005 – 2020, June 2002 (French)

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∴ Order the book here: Book Vision 2020 (EN/FR – Europe2020)

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