with – for – by ?

Europe must be close to its citizens.

This is the concise statement we find on page 26 of the document that became known as Tindemen-report – and it is indeed worthwhile to read here: European Union 1/76 : Report by Mr Leo Tindemans to … – EU Bookshop the ‘old stuff’. the sentence can be found at the end of the first paragraph of the section

IV. A citizen’s Europe

And indeed, also this heading is interesting if we allow digesting it – that is what slow reading is about.

  • The citizens ‘own it’
  • and we are actually talking about the citizens as individuals – the ‘citizen’s Europe’, and not the citizens’ Europe
  • and looking at the other side: this ‘Europe’, it seems that it is somewhat ‘objectified’, a social fact in the Durkheimian understanding: independent from the actors
  • therefore an actor in its own right and as such confronting the citizens – as said: these being seen as individuals.

Of course, if this is the underlying attitude, determining what politics is about, legitimacy is a permanent challenge – the challenge every hegemon faces, and we can read the Modern Prince in it, well aware of the task that – as we read on page 28 of the report

[a] strenuous effort must be made by the European institutions and by governments to improve the way in which our common activity is presented to public opinion and to link the daily decisions of the institutions to the motivations behind the construction of Europe and to the idea of society which is inherent in it.

Coming from here back to page 26, we may become a bit skeptical, when we read about Europe being

a rapprochement of peoples who wish to go forward together

Whereas it is the individual citizen, it is here the people as collective …, suggested as emerging from

the will of governments

and only because that

alone is not sufficient for such an undertaking

it returns to the individuals, suggesting – to them – that

[t]he need for it, its advantages and its gradual achievement must be perceived … so that effort and sacrifices are freely accepted.

Sure, that was 1975, and one may suggest it is not relevant anymore. And one may even suggest: it is not relevant anymore because the citizen of the state[s] submerged in the meantime completely under the rules of the market, making us to market citizens, feeling and behaving and thinking that way, too often not being away of it, as reading faster is more important than reading more, reading the full content of such tiny statement that

Europe must be close to its citizens

thus never being a Europe that is an entity established by us.

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