The European Union’s crisis is as much a crisis of democracy as economics, analysts suggest, while a major new initiative calls for civil solidarity with Greece.
“What is at stake is not just membership of a monetary union; it is the nature and future of democracy itself,” argues Columbia University professor Mark Mazower, author of ‘Governing the World: the History of an Idea’
The EU’s democratic deficit is the source of its legitimacy problem, says The Economist, which recently noted that key decision-makers are unelected or detached from the electorate they claim to represent:
The EU boasts of being a union of democracies. But its crisis of legitimacy is intensifying as it delves more deeply into national policies, especially in the euro zone. One problem is the evisceration of national politics: whatever citizens may vote for, southerners end up with more austerity and northerners must pay for more bail-outs. Another is that the void is not being filled by a credible European-level democracy.
“Together, Europe and the US account for more than 50% of global GDP, have the largest military force in the world by many multiples, and control a growing proportion of global energy reserves,” she notes.
“They also have a formidable diplomatic and development-assistance capacity, representing a peaceful community of democracies that share a common commitment to the rights, dignity, and potential of all human beings,” writes Slaughter, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy.
“Imagine that community spreading down the east coast of Latin America and the west coast of Africa. It might be an Atlantic century after all.”
Europe must reclaim its vision of a community based on solidarity, says a new initiative from the Open Society Foundation (above):
Solidarity Now supports civil society groups working in Greece and is setting up Solidarity Centres—a place for everyone in Greece affected by the crisis to gather and find solutions to shared problems.
Solidarity Centres will offer space to new and existing civil society organisations in Greece, facilitating cooperative community solutions to pressing social and economic problems. Each locally run Centre will address the unique needs of its community. Essential services provided at Solidarity Centres may include health, heating, housing, legal aid, job-seeking assistance, and support for vulnerable groups including the elderly, the sick, migrants, and asylum seekers.
Established by the Open Society Foundations, Solidarity Now is a collaborative funding initiative, including small donations from people around Europe and larger contributions from philanthropies and individuals.