Alternative Berlin Declaration
We need real dialogue
The 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaties provides an occasion for the much needed analysis of the present crisis of democracy and legitimacy in the European Union. We call on the Heads of States and Governments and the German EU presidency to:
Respect the explicit "no" to the EU constitution in France and the Netherlands! It was an expression of the alienation felt between voters and the political class and it was a vote for a Europe of the citizens. Angela Merkel's request to revive the EU constitution at the highest level and behind closed doors would not solve the crisis but intensify it. We demand for an open, democratic process - without artificial time-pressure - in which the citizens will have the decisive say about the future of Europe. We demand there be proper public debate on the questions that EU leaders have been unable to answer during the last five years, e.g.:
How can the EU create a Europe of the citizens, and a democratic Europe of democracies? How can the democratic deficit present within the EU be resolved? How can the EU achieve transparency and a truly democratic form of governance? What role could direct democracy play at the European level? How can the EU safeguard and enhance human and civil rights in Europe?What exactly falls under the jurisdiction of the EU? How can real subsidiarity be secured? How are the EU institutions to be reformed? And finally; what vision should we have for Europe? What significance should it have and could it have for the world and its citizens?
We demand a bottom-up process that is open in its results and open to initiatives and contributions from civil society. The process of shaping the EU needs forums on the future of European, in which people can come together and express themselves, for example, in regional forums, national forums, European forums, and in debates with representatives from civil society, cultural representatives, governments and commerce. To make sure that the results of these debates can be realised in a legal framework we need a new convention on the future of Europe.
A new convention on the future of Europe
Eurocrats and leading EU politicians are very remote from the problems and concerns of the citizens. The previous EU convention was neither democratically legitimate nor open with its results. We demand a new convention on the future of Europe, which actually represents the interest of the citizens. This time it must be safeguarded by distinct rules, the convention should:
- be directly elected. Its members come from all areas and levels of society.
- be open in its results and without to much time-pressure. It should develop proposals for a document on the democratic future of Europe. These proposals must be in accordance with the constitutions of member states. The result will be voted on, in referendums in all EU member states.
- have meetings which are open to the public. In a continuous citizen participation process single citizens as well as organisations of civil society, must be given the opportunity to take part directly in the debate and should be able to influence its results.
- If the convention does not come to an agreement regarding specific topics minority reports can be added to the ballot as an alternative option of the document. Parallel to the convention it must be possible by a procedure of public initiative to present an alternative draft of the document to the voters of all EU member states.
- In the run-up to the referenda fair and unbiased public information about the document and its alternatives must be presented.
Democracy is a basic European value which includes freedom, participation, solidarity and the acknowledgement of fundamental human rights. We call on governments to not obstruct a democratic improvement of Europe from below. Better contribute to it by improving the conditions for democracy!