With this conference, we wanted to remark on the ideas that Dahrendorf had, foretelling the EU decline. One main point of his ideas was the inconsistency with which the European project has been managed for thirty years.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? For Dahrendorf, the conflict regarding rules and citizens responses represents the soul of political freedom. Dahrendorf saw that the EU’s economy was worsening and becoming more rigid in regulations following the Maastricht and Euro negotiation periods. The concern over economic growth prevails over that of the citizen’s rights, and the rights of those who are too poor or who are long-term unemployed.
MONITORING CAPITALISM The EU adopted the financial bureaucracy approach, which first transformed savings capitalism into debt capitalism (which urges for immediate consumption of goods and recalls money from labor and innovation). After Dahrendorf, this system went even further; On the one hand, this plan went further by moving towards the market of computerized algorithms (which should not be called the market for individuals but instead bank-controlled roulette); On the other, the initiation of surveillance capitalism began, which monitors individual life to better understand one’s behavior.
THE DOMAIN OF BUREAUCRACIES Since the 1990s the EU has been less and less attentive to the necessary balance between wealth creation, social cohesion, and political freedom. The EU is dominated by bureaucracy rather than listening and following its citizens. They have imposed decisions that are not democratic, but instead are choices that follow the elitist’s demands (especially with the Junker presidency).
EUROPEAN BOND Breaking from its institutional nature to act as an incubator for the maturing of member countries, the EU has not been concerned with guaranteeing that all member state’s and their citizens’ level of functioning remain comparable. It gave the German bonds the role of being the only European title that comes without risk, incorporating significant macro-economic imbalances into the system. The Commission should push to create a low-risk European title that guarantees state debts and gives a stable stimulus to development, returning the EU to the role of democracy builder for the citizens they choose.
THE CITIZEN? Today the enemy of the Liberals is the lack of attention to Europeans, which has given way to sovereignism and populism. They have had votes, not for their illiberal proposals, but as a reaction to the disastrous governments of others, they have been united through their choice not to listen to the citizens. Diagnosing these serious shortcomings is the precondition for treating them.
LET’S GO AHEAD A project that gives more confidence and triggers more growth is needed and needed soon. As such, we need to contrast the widespread distress of the middle class with an opposite approach to that of fighting inequalities but instead choosing to reduce individual diversity. The equality to be preserved concerns only the rights of the citizen, not to their identity.
This is the legacy of Dahrendorf. A policy inspired by freedom over time is attentive to real facts and not to utopias. And its goal today is to straighten out EU rules.