Strengthening the "Soul of Europe" in Europe 3.0 through Radical Reforms

Posted in Europe | 10-Feb-13 | Author: Hubertus Hoffmann

One thing all of us may learn from Lenin: After Stalin and others complained in the meetings of the Polit-Bureau, Lenin always asked: "What to do?"

This must be our guideline to save, rediscover and strengthen the 'Soul of Europe'.

Not just words, concrete plans and actions are needed now in the EU and nation-states.

Tunne Kelam (second from left), Freedom Hero of Estonia, Member of the European Parliament and the International Advisory Board of the World Security Network Foundation, and Prof. Dr. Hans-Gert Poettering (left), Chairman of the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation, longest-serving Member of the European Parliament since 1979 and its President from 2007-2009, hosted in Tallinn, the capital of EU member state Estonia, a conference about "The Soul of Europe". Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann (right), here with Mari-Ann Kelam, spoke about "Strengthening the 'Soul of Europe' in a Europe 3.0 through Radical Reforms" urging more creativity, better EU planning and a new focus on the unemployment of the young people in
southern Europe.

EU needs: Creativity, creativity, creativity

The West knows how to market Apple´s iPhone, Porsche, or the latest Gucci product perfectly. Hundreds of thousands of talented people deal with marketing strategies, developing new ideas every day on a global level.

In European policy, we are light years away from that. This realm is dominated by unimaginative administrative policy focusing on crisis management, mere analyses, and administration of problem areas. Form and style are highly regarded, not, however, substance and result. Renowned institutes and large conventions analyze problems, but do not offer creative solutions. This approach needs a fundamental reorientation shifting the new focus to creative actions and comprehensive planning.

We urgently require more creativity as an important element of Europe 3.0.

It ought to be guided by the wisdom of creative geniuses such as Albert Einstein, who often repeated: "Imagination is more important than knowledge" and "We cannot solve problems by using the same level of thinking we used when we created them."

Here are just a few proposals for discussion:

Our EU and national bureaucracies are our main adversaries

Experience shows that at the end of frustrating, grinding decision-making processes we usually burn too much money for too little output and are slow, uncoordinated, and inefficient.

Too much money has been wasted, much creativity and entrepreneurship blocked.

This red tape monster is harder to fight than any enemy.

Endless diagnosis replaces therapy on the EU, national and local levels. This is at the core of the problems in Southern Europe as well.

Why did nobody warn and set a clear stop signal that Greece or Spain will jump over the cliff with too many cheap billions borrowed if the ratings go down because of too much debt and too little economic growth?

Why do we not have a European Rating Agency after four years of discussion?

We strangulate the soul of Europe.

We need steady radical reforms and concrete quick actions - both on the European and national level.

We can learn from smaller countries like Estonia how to reform and be more efficient. Estonia has become the best practice in Europe and should now stimulate Greece and Spain.

We must reform the EU and all national countries in a self-critical and steady process and not only give the bureaucrats more power.

We need better control of money being spent and better planning from the top political to the local spending level.

We need efficient corruption control as well.

Everything in Brussels must be turned upside down, analyzed, renovated, changed to get the best of Europe now. The commission needs a reform itself.

Even the focus of the EU on agriculture and assistance to poorer regions and equal living conditions which 'eats up' the single largest share of EU money must be critically analyzed.

The whole EU concept and its credibility depends on growth, which in turn relies on employment opportunities and at the end new competitive jobs in small businesses and jobs for the next generations. But this is not the focus of the EU. Why not?

We need fresh oxygen for small business and not - as in Greece - a need for five documents, or more, and one year to start a small restaurant.

The soul of the EU gets lost on the local level, in an inefficient deep swamp.

The Europe 3.0 must become "We, the people", the soul and the spokesman of the 500 million.

We need more annual future and action reports in the EU

An example of best practice is the excellent EU Youth–Report from September 2012. But why only every three years? It should be produced and discussed each year as this is the most important problem.

Half of the young people in Greece and Spain are without a job now. The EU "Erasmus for All" will be at the heart of the new EU Youth Strategy. It will enable up to 5 million people to receive EU grants to study, train or volunteer abroad - nearly twice as many as before.

Now we also need annual action reports and planning for:

Each country, regarding progress in the reduction of deficits, growth, and support for the engine of the middle class.

Each country, with a global competitive study compared with Asia.

We need active White Revolutionists for a Europe 3.0 – otherwise we are destined to fail and lose credibility. Europe is now too limp and too ossified. This is normal after such a long time and the integration of the South and the East.

A revival of the soul of Europe needs a new fresh approach, a regeneration.

Schuman, de Gaulle and Adenauer were such White Revolutionaries and visionaries in the glorious founding times of Europe and their concept of a united Europe a revolution after two wars.

We also have to stop a perverted argument: Whoever is criticizing EU mismanagement is attacking the glorious aims of a united Europe or is branded a bad populist.

The opposite is true: structures, which in the name of the EU do not work, harm the credibility of the European process. This includes outrageous wages in the EU where 4000 officials get more money than the German Chancellor.

A Holy Flame – passion and devotion needed

Apple Founder Steve Jobs opened new horizons to foreign and security personnel and civil servants. In his famous Stanford 2005 Commencement Address he offered the following insights: "The only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You´ve got to find what you love."

Strengthening the 'Soul of Europe 3.0' means European policy with love and passion - a Holy Flame - aiming at changing the world for the better.

This soul cannot come from old glorious days and history book, but only the next young generation.

Do we have attractive leaders in the EU with passion who inspire the young people, the Facebook generation, and the population?

Has the top leadership become too pale and too stiff ?

Do we need a new generation of fresh younger active politicians to give Europe attractive and active faces?

The foundation of every sensible policy, as well as regeneration itself, consists of educating a new, responsible generation in Europe.

We must identify many more new talents, support them on-site, and invite them to join us, providing necessary know-how and life-long contacts as well as nurturing mutual trust.

The systematic quest for and permanent support of manifold young elites is crucial for the soul of our continent. These EU elites are not the children of the rich, but come from the middle class with a drive to perform.

I can think of no better investment because it creates a responsible elite in crisis areas, addresses the future of youth and their countries, providing a considerable stabilizing effect.

To promote we could start a European Mentorship Program where each year 100,000 young people are connected to senior mentors and learn from them. Thus a young Greek entrepreneur may learn from someone in Hamburg, Tallinn or London. My World Security Foundation is working on such an internet based concept.

We should have mentoring programs for senior and younger European politicians as well to stimulate a new generation.

We praise the Franco-German Youth Office for its 50 years of great work, but where is a European Youth Office? Since 1963, the FGYO has enabled more than 8 million young people from France and Germany to take part in 300,000 exchange programs. The FGYO's budget in 2012 was only 20.8 million Euros.

Why do we spend billions for cows and wine but not so much for our youth?

The whole structure of EU-funding for agriculture and old industries must change or we will lose the young generation in competition with Asia.

Let's integrate the new international NGO networks

Today we have finally arrived in a global village. International organizations and action groups provide a permanent network for hundreds of thousands of active individuals from dozens of nations with entirely different ideas. Let's network them with the EU much more actively and add their fresh ideas.

Parting from eccentric materialism – turning to values

The networks reflect a reorientation of human individuals. The trend in elites is shifting away from excessive materialism aiming at maximum profit and high class consumption to a more fulfilled life. A soul of Europe must come from values.

Split EU Leadership – distribute responsibilities from Germany and France to Estonia and others

The EU approach is still too Berlin-Paris centric, which does not fit the reality of a globalized world and is also overburdening Germany and France. Smaller nations should lead in some areas, not only Germany and France.

It is time to give small countries real EU responsibilities where they take over leadership for the EU. Estonia should take over the lead for the reform process in Greece. Poland could help Portugal, Latvia support Cyprus.

These are just a few fresh elements of my vision for Europe 3.0 and for the revival of the soul of Europe.

Statement during the international Conference " The Soul of Europe" of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Tunne Kelam MEP and the Pro Patria Foundation  in Tallinn, Estonia, February 8, 2013