Scale Europe up

The peace prize for the European Union is the most fitting accolade, even if this year the Norwegian committee has chosen to replicate the decades-long gap between the work recognised and the award as with the academic prizes awarded by the Swedes. While observing its war-preempting and human rights credentials, the citation actually omits significant impacts of the bloc’s environmental stewardship role.

Vrijthof, the main square of the city of Maastricht, the birthplace of the EU, where this blog is written. © 201
Vrijthof, the main square in the city of Maastricht, the birthplace of the EU, where this blog is written. © 2012

The primary goals of the experiment with an overarching union may well have been facilitating trade and perhaps to promote a sense of political integrity across the continent to avert further wars. Regardless, border-blind policy spheres such as the environment have benefitted immensely from the European experiment. When confronted with environmental problems and with a political motivation to set itself apart from other economic behemoths on some value, the European Union rallied its members around a strict code of environmental stewardship. Regulation that would be considered too stringent at a national level in some states found a supranational back door to get formalised into binding law. There is clearly something about transacting policy beyond the arena of national politics that makes for the adoption of otherwise unpalatable solutions.

The global issues of today seem intractable - from impending currency or trade wars to balancing securities of many kinds with fiscal discipline. Nations seem to waiting with bated breath to see who blinks first. Perhaps it is time to scale-up the European experiment and institute a supranational structure that will synchronise the blinking?

Posed in the context of a big idea, the titular question ("Why not?") doesn't sound quite as rhetorical as usual, does it?