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Seminar ’How to run the EU in 2020 ?’ / Launch

Paris (Centre Kléber), April 22-23, 1999


Organised in partnership with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

With the support of the European Commission

Executive summary

Along the two days of seminar a great convergence in the analyses was to be observed among the various participants whatever institution they came from. These analyses can be summed up in three main chapters to be explored more into details within the next working sessions to take place in Bonn, The Hague, London and Brussels from October 1999 on.

1. A general crisis of the European Union institutions

The Commission’s recent crisis is only the visible part of a general crisis of the European Union institutions, whose administrative functioning methods remain founded on organisational methods dating back to the 50’s. The evolution of European societies as well as the increasing integration process in the European Union have led the European administrative system to suffer from very serious harms, characteristic of a system in a process of bureaucratisation. The coming passage to Euro plays a part of catalyst in those deficiencies henceforward belonging to the public sphere. The increasing demand for transparent methods of public management reinforces these tendencies, just as the massive advent of new information technologies does. The « closed up » game (far from the citizens, reserved to the administrative and political elite) and the « drawn game» (all acquired power to the one part is lost for the others) have been at the basis of the system for the last 40 years. It is the end of this managing method that the year 1999 has expressed through its European crises.

2. The necessary acquisition of a democratic legitimacy

Along the next 20 years, the European administrative system will have to provide evidence of its ability to manage a Union closely involving the peoples, and to face the hazards of History. It must therefore root its functioning mechanism in three main values likely to help play this role: transparency, democratisation of its decision-making processes and efficiency of its action. Thanks to more transparent internal functioning mechanisms, to renewed control procedures and through a real communication policy, transparency and efficiency will be made possible. By recognising the politicisation of the European project and by supporting the emergence of a Euro-political class specifically trained to manage the European Union, it will become possible to see the emergence of a Euro-citizenship, only warrant of democratic and historical anchorage of the European Union.

3. Some fundamental reforms to allow the management of the European Union in 2020

The European administrative system should soon see an end to its pyramidal functioning method (European level>national level>regional level) and head towards the network method (functional definition, not hierarchical). This modification implies a rethinking not only of the Commission but also of national administration at least in their relation to European topics. This evolution might lead to a fundamental geographical reorganisation of the European institutional area. The European Central Bank already illustrates the emergence of this new administrative organisation type. Within the European administrative system, a redefinition of roles is becoming necessary in the perspective of 2020: a more collegial Commission playing a part of executive stimulation; a Presidency designed to ensure action coherence; a Council heading towards a Chamber of States; a Parliament which has to learn how to touch its citizens. An in-depth reform of the Commission’s human resources management and control procedures must be initiated by year 2000 in order to avoid the Euro to be implemented with a weakened executive. For a controlled transition process, the definition and implementation of a strong and coherent communication policy is to take place as soon as possible. At the heart of this policy, it appears necessary to find a great mobilising political project imperatively structured along the concept of « common democracy », just as there was a Single Market or a Single Currency. Such a project would play the part of « political locomotive » for the next decade and constitute the integrationist solution to enlargement.

However one should not underestimate that the current crisis is only the initial stage of the profound upheavals that will affect the European system in the next decades. From now on, internal and external crises are part of European Union’s daily life (since the « mad cow », the rhythm of critical events accelerates). Paradoxically this situation reinforces the need to endow the European Union with an efficient anticipation organism, capable of alerting all decision-makers before the release of crises. Finally one should keep in mind that a great part of the causes (organisational as well as human) which led to the current crisis is still present and active within the European administrative system; and that it might resist to changes.

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