In the several decades of its existence, the European Union has changed repeatedly. This implies a transformation of its organization and decision-making.
Aside from keeping the peace within its own boundaries, today's EU citizens have two primary expectations of the union:
- Preserving the level of prosperity that has already been attained.
- A strong showing from the EU in a world that is reorganizing itself.
Both tasks require a strong Europe. In its present form, though, the EU is weak, particularly because it lacks the necessary competence in foreign policy and because its bloated bureaucracy causes it to stand in its own way.
What is needed, therefore, is a reform of the EU as soon as possible, in part through changes to the treaties and agreements that bind the EU's member states together and in part through a more restrained use of the authority available to the EU.
The following 7 points must be emphasized:
1. In many areas, the division of responsibilities between the EU and its member states needs to be significantly clarified. The regulation of responsibilities can't afford to rest on vague wording; it must be crystal clear.
2. The allocation of new responsibilities to the EU, such as in areas of foreign and domestic policy, must be limited to very few points indicated in short lists.
3. The requirements for admitting new member states need to be re-thought. The biggest Europe is not necessarily the strongest one.
4. In its domestic policy, the EU needs to insist -- considerably more than it has to date -- that member states prioritize citizens and their problems over their own interests.
5. For this reason, the law, whenever possible, should emphasize guidelines rather than decrees.
6. An excess of legal stipulations doesn't strengthen the EU, but rather inhibits its ability to act. The number of EU regulations, including currently existing ones, should be reduced by 40-50 percent.
7. The reform of the EU, especially the stripping down (and thus strengthening) of its activities, is not the sole task of the EU, but also of the member states' governments and more specifically their parliaments, which have been given veto rights for this purpose, among others.
This text is an excerpt from the book Reinventing Europe (Europa neu erfinden) by Roman Herzog.
This blog post was translated from German and was originally published on HuffPost Germany.