That sovereignty is the ability of nations to decide their own destiny. What is that worth, if it is not the people who decide the course that we follow? And how can we not see that Europe’s failures over so many years are also failures of democracy?
Through its scale and the expansion it saw, through the diversity it adopted, the European project suddenly encountered, some ten years back, a refusal from the people, from its peoples. What happened in 2005, in Europe, in France, in the Netherlands, was that peoples among the founding States suddenly decided that the project was not for them anymore. Did we listen? No, we did not. Those who led Europe at the time decided not to respect their choice. They pretended nothing had happened, and sought compromises aside from the people, so as to continue a method that for decades had worked so well: building Europe a little to the side and explaining it afterwards.
What happened in 2005 is that a page was turned and we did not realize straight away that Europe could no longer move forward without its peoples. It could no longer continue towards the destiny it had chosen itself, desired and therefore explained, driven by the peoples of Europe together. What happened a few months ago in the United Kingdom is not a whole different story: suddenly, the people of that island rose up against choices often supported by its own leaders and said “this Europe is not for me. I do not have my place here, and I no longer understand it. These rules have become absurd. Look at this Europe where I am losing my own rights, and where I am expected to make more and more effort to live less well.” That is what the British people said last year.
So yes, these ballots have brought an end to an adventure in which Europe had always moved forward as if sheltered from our people’s will. And when I fight the sometimes bureaucratic excesses that mean that Europe seeks to move forward through rules its citizens no longer understand, that mean that Europe moves forward by controlling every detail of daily life because it has lost its grand purpose, it is to rediscover the zest of this European democracy. When I fight for a revision of the posted workers directive, I fight against a Europe that has ended up producing absurd rules where our peoples are no longer able to understand the societies in which we want them to live.
Everything that has held us together for decades is coming apart because these approaches are becoming absurd. We need to play our part in addressing this: it is we, those who believe in Europe, who have allowed cracks to appear in democracy, distancing peoples and making them hostile. And similarly, it is we who must rediscover the path of sovereignty: we need the other form of courage, rediscovering the path of democracy.
That will require, first and foremost, a new method to overhaul Europe. That is why I want this roadmap that I intend to propose to all EU Member States – this roadmap to build the future of our Europe over the next decade – not to involve a treaty negotiated sneakily behind closed doors in Paris, Brussels or Belin. No, I propose that we try a new method: that by the end of the year, we sketch out the major principles of our approach, where we want to take our Europe, and define our objectives clearly. We can then, at the beginning of next year, submit those principles and objectives to the peoples of Europe. I propose that wherever leaders choose to take this path – something I hope for most earnestly – in each of the Member States, we organize six months of consultations, democratic conventions that will be an opportunity for our peoples, throughout our countries, to discuss the Europe they want to see.