During the last 30 years I have been fighting for more democracy and citizen participation. I co-founded the German Green party, I dedicated my work in the German Bundestag and the European Parliament to strengthening laws for direct democracy, and I initiated the citizen movements “Mehr Demokratie” and “Democracy International”. When I now look at the European Union I see: we are facing a major crisis. To me, this is a crisis of democracy.
In last week’s referendum in the United Kingdom, the majority of the people showed the EU the red card. But not only citizens of the British island feel excluded and patronised. The EU is becoming ever more technocratic and centralised – instead of being perceived as a project of and for the citizens. What kind of a democracy is that?
In the midst of the European Union lies Switzerland. Switzerland is itself a union of cantons with diverse languages and cultures. The cantons are part of the union out of full conviction, though they are free to vote on an exit anytime. But the Swiss citizens know that they live in a democratic society. I believe that we should have the same conviction in Europe.
But for this to come true, Europe must change. The Union must become much more transparent, democratic and closer to its citizens. I have been fighting for this for many years and I will continue to do so, especially now.
Democracy International demands a new constitutional Convention for the European Union. This is the only forum in the EU that offers a more open and democratic way of developing a proposal for a truly democratic Europe. The Convention must have sufficient time for its work and citizens must have the possibility of contributing their own proposals. All European citizens should then vote on the new constitution. That would be the start of a new, more democratic EU.
Never before have we been in a historical moment like now. The EU is at a crossroads: break-up or democratisation.
In the coming days, my colleagues and I will send our demands to the national heads of state and the leaders in the EU. We will hold them accountable and make them commit to European democracy.
It gives me confidence that 85% of citizens are no longer satisfied with the current situation. Democracy International wants to give a voice to this vast majority of EU citizens. If we mobilise together, we can succeed to bring about change.
Please join me, become a supporter of Democracy International and share this letter with your family and friends. I look forward to staying in touch.
Member of the Board
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