Elections to the European Parliament after, during and before the crisis – what now?
It is rare that the Brussels lunch-talk format "Crisis Talks" does not end on time, and even rarer that the room is still very well filled and the listeners take the time for a long applause. Nevertheless, this could be observed during the latest "Crisis Talk", which dealt with the upcoming European elections. Professor Rainer Forst (Goethe University Frankfurt/Research Alliance "Normative Orders") and Professor Ulrike Guérot (Danube University Krems and European Democracy Lab) were the guests on the podium and offered the audience an inspired debate on European politics, moderated by Ralph Sina (WDR/NDR) in an extremely elegant and determined manner.
This talk on the European elections was already the 10th Crisis Talk, marking a small anniversary for the organizers - the Leibniz Research Alliance "Crises of a Globalized World", the Representation of the State of Hesse to the EU, the Frankfurt Research Alliance "Normative Orders" and the European Office of the Leibniz Association. The European elections were a particularly suitable topic for this. Mark Weinmeister (State Secretary for European Affairs), who welcomed the guests in the rooms of the Hessian State Representation, noted that the interest in the European elections was greater than in previous years. This is also due to the fact that European politics has to cope with various crises in a quasi permanent mode. Stefan Kroll (Peace Reseach Insitute Frankfurt) followed up on this and emphasized that this anniversary talk brought together many questions from previous Crisis Talks.
Rainer Forst then opened the discussion with a keynote speech. In front of an audience of more than 230 people, Forst stressed that the transnational challenges of our time must be met by the formation of new political institutions. National policies alone are not suitable for this purpose. In addition to a common economic area, a common social policy or a European understanding of the common good was also needed. This would only be accepted, however, if it was not linked to distributional struggles between the states, but rather resulted from European financing, such as a European financial transaction tax.
Ulrike Guérot took this up and made it clear that a new quality was needed to meet the current challenges of a Europe. In particular, equality of rights for citizens was central to the future of Europe. Guérot also illustrated this subsequently with a socio-political example. A European unemployment insurance, Guérot said, would create great successes for the acceptance of European institutions in a short time. European solidarity had great potential to create a counterweight to national identities. Against this background, the audience asked the question which actors could ultimately initiate the change towards a new European order. Rainer Forst predicted that without the established parties - and without a self-image of these parties as European parties - there would be no fundamental changes.
This attribution of responsibility to the parties thus closed the circle of this discussion on the European elections. The debate was not characterised by two conflicting positions, but by a fundamental and consistent approach to the issues, which does not always have room in the practical debate on European politics. This was ultimately the goal that the organizers pursued in organizing this "Crisis Talk", to which deliberately no candidates from the parties were invited. The forthcoming elections were intended to be an occasion to talk about fundamental questions about Europe. The talk by Rainer Forst and Ulrike Guérot was an impressive start to this.