The European Communities/Union have for some 54 years now been an on-going building project. Like a road that is being continuously upgraded.
The problem with such a road is that there is always construction going on and that disrupts traffic and confuses (and irritates) the drivers.
Well, by analogy, that is the reason why the ECs/EU have never been a very popular "project".
Does that mean that the ECs/EU should have abandoned their target of ever closer Union? Should they have remained a mere "customs union" or "common market" (not even a "single" one)? Or stopped after 1.1.1993 (the start of the Single Market)? Or after 1.1.2002 (the intro of the Euro notes and coins)?
No! On the contrary!
In spite of what some think (and even more claim) the ECs were from the date of their conception a "project" that aimed at political union, "a sort of United States of Europe" (as a well known British political figure is supposed to have said (after WWII) that Europe needed).
Thus, the problem with the EU is that this "end" (goal) has been too slow in being reached. And the on-going (but painfully slow) upgrading of the ECs/EU, day in day out, has been a disruptive element in the lives of the ECs/EU's firms (especially the SMEs and micros) and citizens.
At the end of the day, we (EUropeans) all know (both those who we like it and those who do not) that the ultimate goal is a United States or Federal Republic of Europe (ie something like the USA or the FR of Germany). But most national level politicians, for reasons that are more or less known, have and been still are afraid to announce officially to their citizens/voters/populous what they/we already all know.
A USE/FRE government with a PM, a cabinet, based on the seats of political parties in the USE/FRE Federal Parliament, with an FRE Upper House or USE Senate that consists of the elected PMs of the member states (German model) or 2 reps per member state (elected), the Euro, a USE/FRE army, a USE/FRE IRS (tax authorities), federal minimum wage (USA has one too), federal police and of course federal laws. Plus a federal budget financed not by X or Y "rich" state but the rich and high income earners from all over the USE/FRE! A USE/FRE that is a major "player" in global affairs of all kinds. With a foreign Minister (Secretary of State) who has as many powers as Hilary Clinton does in the (first) Obama administration! Maybe even a USE/FRE President, probably with a mostly decorative/ambassador role (ie not US or French style, sorry Arnold)!
Come on, that is more of less, what we (500 million EUropeans, at present) know that the final state of the ECs/EU is going to be! Some want that, some do not. Maybe that is a matter for an EU-wide referendum to decide.
But what almost no EU citizen likes/wants, I argue, is the perpetual upgrading of the entity, like a road, that makes our lives difficult with all those work signs, bulldozers, workmen, etc!
Enough is enough though!
Get on with it. Finish this European Integration "project", finally!
Get it done.
Stop the lame concerns re political costs and announce what we anyway know that the end result is going to be: United States or Federal Republic of Europe. Give us all the details of the final "product" and set a precise and fixed deadline to get there, ASAP. Give us a chance to say Yes or No and when we probably say Yes, even by 51-49 margin. do it, just do it. So that we can experience that final product. Live, work, venture, employ, plan, dream, career, export, etc in it!
Just do it! Until you do, that's the main problem of the EU, the Euro, all things EUropean!
It this a Catch 22? Nope.
A Gordian Knot? Neither!
No need for the determination of an Alexander the Great to do it. Merely a matter of enough political and other leaders (eg opinion leaders) having the guts to announce to us what we all more or less know is coming but do not know when (while we suffer the daily upgrades).
I personally think that until January 2013 at the latest you will make the announcement.
PS. Does that mean no more new members? IMO no, the possibility to expand the project geographically with new members is not the real problem. The wider vs deeper dilemma, discussed before the 2004 enlargement, is a pseudo one, although some (eg the UK government) did manage to materialise part of that pseudo dilemma into reality! But that's another post.