While we are committed to European co-operation, we believe that the EU has reached a critical moment in its development. Globalisation, enlargement, successive No votes in EU referenda and the eurozone crisis have discredited the notion of 'ever closer union' espoused by successive generations of political and bureaucratic elites.
Faced with weak economic growth, rising global competition, insecurity and a looming demographic crisis, there is now an urgent need to find a new model for European cooperation, more in tune with modern economic realities and the preferences of citizens.
We believe Europe has the potential to rise to these challenges and thrive as a vibrant economic region in the 21st century. Our vision is of a slimmed-down, outward-looking EU, which:
- facilitates and encourages free trade, internally and globally;
- is democratic, transparent and accountable to citizens;
- doesn't interfere in areas better – or equally well – handled locally or nationally;
- regulates far less but far better;
- is flexible enough to let powers flow back from the EU to its member states, and to let countries integrate with each other to different degrees.
Open Europe believes that an adaptable EU is the right way to reconcile the historic demand of some member states for more integration and the deep-felt desire of many voters for less. It is also likely to be the only way to reconcile the UK to EU membership, as the eurozone crisis forces some countries closer together while the British public and political class increasingly wants to go in the opposite direction. Different national attitudes to defence, neutrality, the euro and border control should be regarded not as temporary exceptions to the EU's ideals but as positive examples of how to square democratic principles and European co-operation. To make our vision a reality, we seek to involve individuals, political parties and organisations across Europe, and to disseminate our ideas widely throughout the world.