The current political debate on the division of competences within the EU hides more than it clarifies. We see that discussions within this debate often skip directly to concrete policy questions, without addressing the underlying considerations of what is fundamentally at stake. The problem with this focus on questions such as whether Europe should or should not have a say in the shape of cucumbers or the requirements of light bulbs is that there is nothing distinctive or meaningful in the long run to be said about them. Sticking with discussing the matter on this superficial level we might – at best – end up with a nitty-gritty division of competences custom-made for today but worthless for tomorrow. And in the meantime we run the risk of being overtaken by a reality in which national sovereignty on, for instance, pensions silently turns into a fiction because of the functioning of international financial markets. In this paper, we will therefore propose that we take a step back, so that we can do justice to the truly fundamental questions that lie behind the recent political desire to come up with a detailed list of European and national competences.
About the Ralf Dahrendorf Taskforce:
The Ralf Dahrendorf Taskforce on the Future of the European Union provides a platform for ELF member organisations to discuss liberal proposals for the reform of the EU institutions and the future of the European integration process. The recommendations produced by working groups will be gathered in a publication presenting liberal recommendations for the future of the EU.
The work of the Taskforce is structured in four working groups:
- WG I: Reform of the EU institutions – re-Democratisation of the EU
- WG II: Foreign, Security and Defence – strong cooperation for a stronger Europe in the world
- WG III: Protecting civil liberties – a liberal footprint for Europe
- WG IV: Financial and economic crisis – liberal solutions for a Europe that work
Find the previous publications of our Dahrendorf Taskforce series here:
On the Right to Be Forgotten, 17.03.2015
Ukraine as a bridge to Russia, 03.03.2015
Photo credits: Julie Cantalou/FNF-Europe