09 Jun 2011

Necessary desirability: The inherent contradiction in the European system

Riccardo Perissich

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In all political systems there is a gap between the rhetoric of electoral programmes and the practical work of institutions, argues author Riccardo Perissich, but the ‘vision thing’ is often a necessary prerequisite to reaching difficult decisions. When it comes to European institutions, which include the member states acting collectively, the desirable vision – the goal of European unity – has always been there and is still very much alive.
Also, the existence of a broadly defined political goal has often facilitated agreements that were in fact purely necessary. However, because we lack a pan-European constituency to debate it, the narrative about this goal has been translated into different languages and is all but common. In fact, we have never seriously tried to unify it. Indeed, Europeans stopped debating what is desirable a long time ago: they simply react to events.

Riccardo Perissich is Executive Vice-President of the Council for the United States and Italy and former Director General for the Internal Market and Industry in the European Commission.

This series of Commentaries is contributed by members of EuropEos, a multidisciplinary group of jurists, economists, political scientists and journalists set up in 2002 with the aim of creating an ongoing forum for the discussion of European policy and institutional issues.