I was intrigued to see today that as Jean-Claude Junker addressed the European Parliament he was heckled by Nigel Farage who said, “what was being proposed was more Europe in every single direction… without the consent of the people”. It prompted me to consider how democracy is failing in the UK and the USA, precisely because the technology enabled voice of the people has driven populist agendas which have produced highly volatile outcomes and increasingly uncertain futures. Mr. Farage wouldn’t like it said, but because is the EU is all about rules and processes it can provide a strong layer of stability and predictability, which frequently exerts governance over the more volatile actions of national governments. While UK Brexiteers may be upset by the difficult negotiation process currently in process, it is the EU team that is forcing the British to address the intricacies and practicalities involved in extricating themselves from Europe. Note this governance is not only happening in the UK, but also Romania and Poland that are pushing the democratic envelope as their right-wing governments test their authority.
The evident failure of democracy in the UK and USA, captured by populist agendas and misled by fake news suggests we need a counter-balance. Certainly, in this global era we badly need supra-national governance to manage global policy issues such as macro finance, trade, security, data etc. One might even be forgiven for thinking that some form of benevolent autocracy might be an improvement over the likes of Donald Trump, Theresa May, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson etc. But wait a minute, that’s exactly what we have in the EU. It’s not perfect, we know that. The EU actually represents a supra-national governance body that has demonstrably delivered stability and peace, well apart from the banking crash, and represents a blend of technocratic and democratic government which I think is likely to be preferable to say, the Chinese system.
So why reinvent a wheel that is actually working? The EU is needed. If it wasn’t in place, we would need to invent it. What we do need to do is make it work better.