The next European project must make a compelling offer to all European citizens, one that goes beyond nation-state affiliation. It must be based on the principle that all European citizens have political equality: in elections, before the law and in taxes. Cicero called this ius aequum. A government for the people and by the people. A nation state is not the only frame for a democracy.
The challenge is to define this European democracy and its parliamentary institutions, which, in contrast to the current trilogy of European council, commission and parliament, must be built on a real division of power: a legislative body that controls an executive body.
That such ideas sound like heresy in Brussels indicates just how far the EU has strayed from English political thinkers such as John Locke,Edmund Burke or Adam Smith. All were masterminds of modern parliamentary liberalism, and none could have imagined what appears self-evident in today’s EU: that a people can be governed by a single market, that deregulation is the goal and that anyone who proposes social controls of markets is a dangerous Marxist radical.
The question now is how to organise a Schumpeterian “constructive destruction” of the EU. Whenever in history sovereign citizens have embarked together on a political project, they have founded a republic based on that principle of political equality. This should be the vision and mission for Europe in the 21st century.
Millions of voters didn’t want Brexit. Why should they lose EU citizenship?