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Open Europe lays out how to reconnect the EU with citizens and boost accountability and democracy. Move away from the principle of 'ever-closer-union' and embrace the principle of 'European localism,' through which decisions are made nationally where possible and at the EU-level where necessary.
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The UK should position itself as the champion of European localism, taking the principles and rhetoric of localism widely endorsed at national level, and applying them at the European level. This would create a movement that counterbalances the drive for ‘ever closer union’ – the EU’s current mantra – and give powers back to member states, communities and individuals. It could command cross-party support in the UK, win traction across Europe – and change the future direction of the EU.
The opportunity for European localism is the result of two developments:
The Eurozone crisis is the biggest crisis the EU has faced, with the original principle of ‘ever closer union’ leading directly to financial and political turmoil. It has widened further the gulf between the EU’s leaders and its citizens, with support for the EU dropping to all-time lows in several countries, and growing assertiveness by member states wanting a new direction for the EU.
Concrete proposals for how to achieve European localism in practice include: