@JeanDoe by and large I agree but (hear me out) the power of lobbyists in the EU is huge as well, and growing rapidly and before long they will also have a sway comparable to if not stronger than that of US lobbies.
Vested interests can argue a point much better than ad hoc activist coalitions tend to. While, as opposed to US members of congress, EU MEPs don’t need to fill their coffers to get reelected, the focus of the media on their comings and going also is almost absent. In the EU representatives tend to end up being hired by the lobbyist firms, few questions asked.
SOPA and PIPA were halted in the US by grassroots organisations despite intense lobbying by professional organisations representing media companies. Grassroots movements can achieve a scale that professional lobbying organisations can only dream of. And yet both in the EU as well as the US, only internet savvy lobbying groups manage to sway public opinion far enough to influence the legislative process. In an area such as healthcare, citizen and patient lobbyist groups tend to fall far short of representing their interests versus the power of big pharma. Regardless of whether one looks at the US or the EU.
National parliaments in the better educated nations (Finland, Sweden) play an important role by signalling in advance what sort of legislation is going to be acceptable to them. In a closer union between the US and EU their voice will gain prominence and be heard more loudly in the 50 states as well. That’ll be a huge benefit.
The decentralized nature of the EU and the lack of central decision making powers is what right now saves us from a huge wad of ill thought out legislation that favors vested interests over those of citizens. And that’s part of the reason why the Euro shouldn’t force any further integration where that will hurt the identities and interests of EU citizens. And in fact those of US ones as well.
Most tend to underestimate the importance of what such a ‘trade deal’ between such huge and complex economies means. Even a minor deal will have strong reverberations across economic and social sectors. A comprehensive trade deal would necessitate significant changes on the federal level in the US and in each individual EU member state. Simply a deal e.g. involving pharma would require EU-type harmonization across the board; in all EU nations as well as in the US. It would be hugely beneficial to both pharma and patients if a drug approved by one agency would be approved by default by all the rest as well. But in the EU the Danish, let alone the Americans, aren’t going to let a drug tested and approved by e.g. the Slovaks pass without second thought.
Negotiating a comprehensive EU-US trade deal will take more than 20 years. It’ll be far more complex than Turkish accession to the EU. But like the latter, it will be worth it. In the process we can create a significant free trade zone with rules and regulations negotiated by broad interest groups. In the process, the EU can set up meaningful institutions in Brussels that centralize efforts hitherto duplicated in each member state instance, such as approving drugs. In the process, the EU and US can get closer and explain what their shared values are really all about. Which my then may be more obvious than now.