Understanding its mandate & not kowtowing to financiers or extremists.
For the political leaders of the European Union, it's easy to lose perspective.
Lose enough to not notice when they're falling behind in their duty. Their duty to serve the people of its member states. When that duty is truly forgotten, the union will fall.
Some may quote, "All empires fall" in response - precursors to the EU included - but we would do well to remember that a union is not an empire and should require more than military force to remain so; no, a union is based on common beliefs, listening to its members, and acting on what those members make clear. If the quality of a man can be judged by his mercy, should not a country or a union's also?
Here Greece's fate is a perfect example: with one of the highest voter turnouts in their recent history giving the lion's share of power to Syriza in 2015, they have a definitive mandate to ensure that Greece's people are given reprieve from the poverty and austerity they've endured. This, naturally, means arguing with the Troika. What Greece's fellow members of the E.U. need to remember is that they too should be arguing on Greece's behalf.
In living standards, several members of the E.U. are still ranked as some of the highest in the world. In working conditions, too. So much so that countries close to member states are perennially attempting to make constitutional changes in order to be a part of it, take Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, or Turkey. So it's all the more shocking when a member state like Greece has living standards and working conditions below that of its non-E.U. neighbour: in late 2014, the General Confederation of Greek Workers Union called the exploitation of Greek workers "medieval".
The common beliefs held by a union should increase communication and in that, increase empathy. When one's friend, relative, or neighbour is in trouble, do we not help them? Wouldn't helping now benefit the long-term? These are not the questions of an idealist but the questions of democracy's mandate. Europe's greatest challenge is understanding and implementing that mandate.
Though the Troika and many EU member states need to take the matter of shared economics seriously and be responsible in the union's accounting, it is a much more serious matter if those accounts lead to exclusion and thus the death of the union. Politically, it would also mean the death of the careers of those leading the exclusionary charge. For politicians to survive history, empathy must outweigh purses.
That charge isn't lead by finance alone. Exclusionary forces come in insidious sizes.
Hypocritically nationalist MEPs that call for the tightening of immigration and an exception to the free movement of people - like those in the EFDD - are not only an exclusionary force but, while seen as a farce, are a patient, deadly charade. Both the EFDD's co-presidents have vaudeville in their blood. While holding up such custard pies and clapper boards as 'Streamlined, Direct Democracy' and 'the common man', they're stamping on common rights, shaking E.U. money from their spare jazz-hand to their rich friends, and all while complaining the E.U. doesn't do enough for them.
These charades and dreams then catch the attention of the mainstream parties. Any mainstream, sensible party that begins to take on the rhetoric of extremism flags its own failure. Documents from the UK Conservative's proposals to prevent extremism signal the loss of social cohesion, of union.
Though the Euro suffers a low against British Sterling at the time of writing, and the ECB's Quantitative Easing is within recent memory, the EU itself is strong.
With a possible Grexit and Brexit perennially discussed, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking otherwise; however, Quantitative Easing worked and the Euro being low is good for investment opportunities - economically, the Union is on the right track so the question we have to always ask is, is its spirit?
Mariana Mazzucato, professor of economics at the University of Sussex, has argued recently on America's PBS that it isn't austerity that Greece needs but public spending and that Germany is the leading example of why. In 2005, Gordon Brown lead the charge to drop the debt of eighteen of the world's poorest countries - why then are no northern European politicians leading a charge to, not drop but, lessen southern Europe's debt through investment?
In reference to the UK's 2015 General Election, a relaxed Alex Salmond said 'Who holds the balance, holds the power' and we, Europe, are the balance and the fulcrum of democracy. It was invented here. It is our responsibility to care for it and those living on its land. We sit between eager dragons and raging bulls as the voice of reason.
Reason understands the necessity of empathy and mercy. They keep us from extremes. So must Europe reason to ignore the financiers and extremists, to enable its strength for the peoples of its member states.