A New Governance for Europeans

Olivier Vedrine
15 June 2018

The purpose of governance is to come closer to achieving political equilibrium and thereby guaranteeing an efficient and effective government. This means accepting a global approach of government power that embodies more dialogue, consensus, and taking into account multiple interests. In times of western political crisis, this integrated approach appears therefore to be a contemporary topic of great importance.
The concept is not only for domestic implementation but also for use on an international level. The inclusion of multiple interests and the search for consensus could actually be among the new guidelines for a modern form of diplomacy as part of a multi-polar world. Following this logic, it seems necessary, for instance, to restructure international organisations such as the United Nations, the IMF, or the World Bank. These organisations were introduced shortly after the Second World War and the world has changed a lot since then; especially with the end of colonial empires, the breakdown of the USSR, and the emergence of new powers.
In addition, the mobilisation of a large number of countries and their citizens to revive the global policy and economy today is also imperative. It is all the more urgent as the current political environment is not the only crisis we will face in the years upcoming. Climate and energy crises also constitute major challenges, and as pollution and natural catastrophes know no state boundaries the threat posed by climate change can only be faced on an international level.
Governance is not only applicable at the international level but also locally. Indeed, consensus-building by taking into account the greater number of partners in policy-making makes sense at the local level, in municipalities, and at a regional level. This is a chance to witness direct and sustained involvement of citizens in the life of the city and/or region. This will also allow populations to feel a part of the political decision-making process, which can, in times of crisis, defuse many social conflicts. Ukraine’s success at decentralisation post-Maidan is an excellent living and current example of this.
Local governance is an important part of European civil society which is connected first in national governance at the state level and secondly at the European level in Brussels. The involvement of a greater number of citizens in public decision-making is ensured when decisions are taken closer to the individual and when it is explained on a national and European level. It is most probably through this form of participatory involvement that we can establish a European citizenship, because what the EU needs today is the feeling of belonging at both the local and national level.
In addition, the establishment of modern governance techniques may be easier to realise today using modern means of communication, especially via resources offered by the internet. A great number of European citizens know and use social networks and the transition to a form of governance incorporating this (see Estonia’s E-governance model) would be simple to implement in other nations. Politicians are already using websites like Facebook and Twitter and their constituents have begun to use these platforms for consultation and proposals, illustrating how these platforms bring politics and politicians within reach of the voters.
For the European Union, this could be an extraordinary time for the modernisation of democracy and could therefore become Europe’s next contribution to global democratic debate. With the next European election process set for 2019, platforms conducive to beautiful and noble political debates are available through social media. It’s up to us to use them in a constructive way.

Olivier Vedrine is a journalist and political scientist. He hosts The Western Voice with Olivier Vedrine on Obozrevatal TV and he is the Chief Editor of the Russian Monitor online newspaper.

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