A Complete Change of the European System – Without Asking the People

Published on Current Concerns, an Interview with Professor Dr Wilhelm Hankel, by Current Concerns, July 2010.

Current Concerns: Professor Hankel, at the beginning of May you and four competent colleagues filed a lawsuit to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany against the so-called ‘Help for Greece’, which had been adopted by the German Bundestag. You also appealed to the public by an advertisement in a large German newspaper. What prompted you to do so?

Prof Dr Wilhelm Hankel: What we asked the Constitutional Court to consider is an affair to all of us, of all Germans, even to all Europeans. Because the help for Greece and also for a lot of countries in a similar situation will – under a humane pretext, a pretext of solidarity – bring to life a monstrosity, a complete change of the European system without asking the people. And this change will be performed on different levels. On the legal level: breaches of law have been committed, which are simply outrageous.

But also the political structure of the EU is being changed, which is also outrageous; because this has to be decided by a public referendum, and not in a clandestine operation of a few governments. And what bothers me as an economist particularly is the concern for the welfare of our citizens. These three concerns – these three levels – have to be brought to the general public; additionally we want to make clear to the judges, that such questions are not decided in the legal solitude but have to be made the subject of a public debate where they might even be repelled … //

… We would like to return to your ad in which you wrote that a public sphere is necessary. This was an urgent and important appeal. How can we support this?

In democracy, the public is part of politics. There is no democratic politics without the public. But of course it needs to be informed. There are no good decisions without information, neither in governments nor in democracies. And the goal of the ad was simply to give an orientation and to create an awareness in people of what is happening and to prepare them that they might some day have to stand up against foolish decisions of their own governments. We want to motivate the public.

What kind of support would suit you?

The next thing would be that members of the government and the parliament sit together with the critics. This has not happened so far, never. It is much easier to talk to a few politicians and important members of the parliament than to the wider public. I have received literally thousands of affirmative blogs through the internet and other mail. I have delegated them to an intermediate office since I am no longer able to read all of them. I can not organize the public. I have to resort to the existing structures, and after all the politicians are part of them. And I am very disappointed about the complete lack of resonance to the ad from this sphere.

But couldn’t your ad become the nucleus of a public campaign?

I would be very happy if it were so.

Thank you very much for the interview. (full text).

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