The European Parliament has constituted itself and given its assent to the future President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed by the European Council. Parliament sorts itself out, individual Members try to gain profile. Ms von der Leyen travels to the EU countries to discuss personnel issues (future EU commissioners) and priorities.
 The further democratisation of the EU is not the top priority in the negotiations. Nevertheless, the question arises as to where the EU should develop. In the EU election campaign, the blurred concept of the „United States of Europe“ came up again, while others spoke of a „European Republic“ as the goal.
 A federal solution currently has no chance of being accepted as a goal by its members. This is partly due to the flatness of the arguments. If one wanted to conduct this discussion seriously, one would have to break away from the historical models of federal states (USA, FRG, Austria, Switzerland) and instead talk about one – to put it in modern terms! – Federal State 4.0, which integrates the many network components that characterise the EU.
 There is no doubt that the EU will have to develop its constitutional form further. The successful way, however, does not lead via a setting such as „Europe must become a Republic“ or „Europe must become a Federal State“ or „Let’s make the United States of Europe!“
 Rather, the democratisation of the EU must be promoted, without which there will be no European public sphere and no European demos.
 The first step (1) is to extend the political rights of EU citizens. People living in other EU countries should have full voting rights at all levels. The right to vote in the country whose citizenship someone has must not expire after X years. There is also no plausible reason why EU citizens should not be able to vote at national level both in their country of residence and in their country of citizenship. After all, they are living EU-Europe.
 For elections to the European Parliament, (2) transnational lists must be accepted. These elections continue to have a strong national character, even though there have been improvements in 2019 as regards content, because European issues were actually more important than in the past.
 At least (3) the President of the Commission should be directly elected. The decision shall be taken in the run-off election between the two candidates with the highest number of votes.
 All fundamental choices (4) must be subject to a European referendum by EU citizens: Treaty amendment, admission of a country to the EU, withdrawal of a country from the EU.
 Steps (1) to (4) require Europe-wide debate and gradually create a European public and a European demos. This requires the extension of political rights, without which there will never be a European public and a European demos.
 The European Parliament must be given the right of legislative initiative. In the event of disagreement between the two legislative bodies, Parliament should be able to overrule the Council by a two-thirds majority. This will bring more dynamism to political and legislative action in the EU.
 Democratization, however, means much more than political rights and the strengthening of parliament. It is also about protecting people in the EU, for example, from authoritarian historical policies such as those pursued in Hungary or Poland.
 The historical knowledge of Europe in all its parts and regions must be freely accessible in an easily usable form. This is most likely to be achieved digitally, as there is no compulsion to linear master narratives. Research and evaluation tools are made available for free use. In all required European languages. This is an investment of billions, but it is necessary. This also applies to other areas of knowledge. Access to scientifically developed knowledge must be substantially improved. This also requires answer machines, which in turn require genuine artificial intelligence.
 The EU is not an island. Democratisation must involve people who immigrate to the EU for various reasons. It is permissible to attach political rights to a minimum length of stay, but then they must be granted. In the case of permanent residence, there is no reason to refuse regional and national voting rights.
 Democratisation includes strengthening the principle of majority voting in the Council and the European Council.
 It cannot be repeated often enough that even the ‚big‘ EU countries are just dwarves in the global environment in which they find themselves. It would be wise to recognise that this is the case – and to draw the consequences from it, namely to strengthen the Union. This must be accompanied by more democratisation, otherwise democracy in Europe would suffer itself.
 I would call the result of such a path the Democratic European Union, not the United States of Europe or Republic. It is not a question of transferring historical forms of government to the EU, but of having the courage to develop an innovative form in the 21st century that corresponds to the present situation.
Books: Was wird aus der Europäischen Union? Geschichte und Zukunft (Reclam 2018); For a Democratic United States of Europe (1918-1951). Freemasons – Human Rights Leagues – Winston S. Churchill – Individudal Citizens (Steiner 2019)
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Recommended citation method (paragraphs are numbered in square brackets for citation purposes):
Wolfgang Schmale: From the European Union to the Democratic European Union. In: Wolfgang Schmale: Blog „Mein Europa“, wolfgangschmale.eu/democratic-european-union, 22 August 2019 [paragraph n°].