Tuesday 12 May 2009

The European Union 2.0

You can never have enough 2.0 metaphors, so let's see what we can get today:
The European Union is based on international treaties between member states, not a union by the people. About 200 pages of treaty text and about 160 pages of protocols and declarations follow from the member states’ desire to control events in minute detail.

This is the old covenant, European Union 1.0 based on diplomats and technocrats. The Lisbon Treaty is version EU 1.1 with added powers for the European Parliament and other reforms. [...]

If the power is vested in the people, the European Union could have a strong, short and readable basic document. It would not be a treaty, but a basic law or constitution. This would be the new covenant, EU 2.0.
Oh yes, and this EU 2.0 has to be much more interactive than the old one!

It has to be a platform on which citizens can interact and create content on their own. This platform needs to be open source and should be free for developers who could program applications that are most useful for its users. It needs to be easy to use, and I should be able to connect to my old friends and to find new ones.

And eurosceptics would be happy if it's for free and just financed by advertisement!

The only problem: One day, when it functions good enough, it will be bought by Google. Or China.


Josef Litobarski said...

Hi, Julien

Yes, "Web 2.0" is an often-abused and misunderstood concept.

You are right, it is not just an "improved" version of something.

But all of the things you mention (user-generated content, open-source, ease-of-use, free content, etc.) represent a single goal and emphasis: "community."

"2.0" is always community based, whatever context you are using it in. And EU 2.0 is a great metaphor for a more democratic and involved EU.

For me, I would define EU 2.0 as the interaction between Web 2.0 and European politics - not necessarily as a new formal legal framework for the EU, as Ralf seems to be suggesting.

But, either way - stop raining on our parade!



Josef Litobarski said...

I've just finished reading Ralf's post.

It's not actually such an abuse of the "Web 2.0" concept as you make out. He's suggesting increased ease-of-use in the basic treaty text of the Union.

Now, if you wanted to make it really, genuinely EU 2.0 - we wouldn't wait for official action before we got going.

We would set up a wiki with the Lisbon Treaty loaded in and then start a community "abridged" version - reinterpreting and condensing it to make it shorter and easier to read.

That would be my definition of EU 2.0. Not sure it's technically possible in that example, though - but that would be the concept.

Julien Frisch said...

Oh, I didn't want to sound like somebody ruining the party!

In fact, I liked the approach, just the 2.0 thing is maybe a bit overused these days.

And I wanted to set out a clear agenda: We don't need just a new simplified legal basis - a federal constitution or however we call this document - but this constitution would need to rethink societal interaction, not just with regard to technical possibilities but also and in particular regarding the spirit of the reformed system.

This is 2.0 as we see it in Web 2.0, and this is what we need for Europe.

Ralf Grahn said...

Josef and Julien,

I am sure that interactive tools and participants develop as time goes by, which is positive.

But a serious federation needs an established order, too.

(I have not seen Obama suggesting that the US Constitution be scrapped.)

Josef Litobarski said...

These are really interesting points you're both making.

I agree with you, Ralf, we desperately need an overhaul of the constitutional framework of the EU to make it easier to understand and access and thus more democratic.

But the problem is - everything is moving so slowly!

Web 2.0 is the absolute opposite: everything moves very, very quickly.

In fact, there is already talk of a "real-time web" - a web updating at the speed of... well... at the speed of real time. :-D

So which comes first? Civil society, making use of the tools of Web 2.0 to push for constitutional change (seems to be Julien's position)? Or a robust legal framework, around which a civil society can properly develop?

Ralf Grahn said...


The representatives of the modern world are running away from the old EEC/EC/EU, not with the speed of light, but quickly enough (although most citizens' opinions evolve at a leisurly speed).

The solution can hardly be for dignitaries to weep for more old style Franco-German reconciliation, but to show why the EU is needed and what a legitimate union would look like.

Interactivity and the rule of democracy & law are not mutually exclusive.

But intellectually, the present EU is dead as the dodo, although the decline of empires, states and oher entities usually takes a bit longer.

Julien Frisch said...

To make my point even clearer: I agree with Ralf that we need a better legal foundation. But a new legal foundation would not be the EU 2.0, but rather EU 1.0 reloaded.

In order to qualify to the 2.0 label as it is used in Web 2.0, this new legal foundation should not only clarify institutional arrangements but should also incorporate a new spirit that sees interaction and involvement as the key elements of modern democracy, giving a new role to the necessary democratically elected representatives (co-ordinate, filter, simplify, codify).

Ralf Grahn said...


I have perhaps posed a challenge, but others will be needed to develop the means and the spirit.

To digress a little, Fabien Cazenave wrote an interesting analysis of Sarkozy's European vision on Le Taurillon.

This is the current we are now facing.

Josef Litobarski said...

Ah, sorry, Julien!

I think I was completely misunderstanding you all this time.

Regardless, EU 2.0 (at least, the way I define EU 2.0: as Web 2.0 starting to take an interest in EU politics) is slowly taking shape around us.

An good time to be an EU blogger!

Josef Litobarski said...

*a good time to be an EU blogger