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14th Franco-German Dialogue: More Europe! But how?

In the light of the results of the French presi­dential elections and the ongoing attempts to form a cabinet after the Greek parlia­mentary elections, the 14th Franco-German Dialogue took place on 10 and 11 May covering the topic “More Europe! But how?”.

The demand for more Europe might appear provocative with regard to the growing number of voices seriously discussing steps of disin­te­gration. However, the partic­i­pants of the Franco-German Dialogue, organised by the ASKO EUROPA-STIFTUNG and the Europäische Akademie Otzen­hausen in cooper­ation with the Institut für Europäische Politik e.V. and other partners, supported the call in broad consensus. Due to the ensuing question regarding the paths towards more integration, there was ample ground for contro­versial discus­sions within the four working groups and the panels. The recently published appeal “Wir sind Europa. Manifest zur Neugründung der EU von unten” (“We are Europe. Manifest for a new foundation of the EU from the bottom up”) in the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” pointed out the necessity not to remain on a theoretical level but to put demands into practice. The impor­tance of these demands become apparent in the spectrum of challenges that the European Union faces at the moment and in the issues that were discussed within four working groups.

The first working group, which was concep­tu­alised and conducted by the Institut für Europäische Politik e.V. in cooper­ation with the Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le Progrés de l’Homme and the Citizens for Europe e.V., dealt with the double challenge of the legit­imacy of the European Union: the growing challenges to the Union’s capacity to act as well as the increasing demand for partic­i­pation of civil society organ­i­sa­tions. The discussion pointed out the deficits of the political system of the Union and that today’s political decisions are subject to an increasing complexity of three dimen­sions: (1) a complexity of challenges; (2) an insti­tu­tional complexity; and (3) a partic­i­pative complexity.

The second working group focussed its discussion on the Union’s capacity to act in the Eurozone crisis with regard to the issue of European solidarity. Especially the different instru­ments to solve the crisis provoked a contro­versial debate. The third working group comple­mented the debate on the insti­tu­tional system and political respon­si­bil­ities with the perspective of cultural hetero­geneity within the Union. The role of the French + German couple as an engine for the cultural dimension of European integration was considered. It discussed the danger of growing resent­ments against European integration. The fourth group discussed the relation between the EU and the North-African neigh­bouring states. The discussion proved that this issue is not only a matter of external relations but due to migration, moreover, a matter of domestic policy concerning human rights, solidarity and the further economic devel­opment within the EU.

The fact that the initial demand was not disproved but rather supported was a positive signal, which will hopefully become a central motif for the upcoming re-adjustment of the German-French relations.