October 23, 2012
A Federal Europe must be a place of progress. A Federal Europe must be a place of innovation. A Federal Europe must be a place of freedom. A Federal Europe must be a place of freedom – freedom to learn, to live, to pursue happiness, to believe or not believe in any god one chooses.
Protesilaos Stavrou recently published a piece on how not all European Federalists are Progressive. He argues that ‘’Progress properly understood is not an opportunistic change of forms, nor a mere reallocation or redistribution of state supremacy, but a thoroughgoing and painstaking reformation of the entire set of ideas governing political life. The federalists who are genuinely progressive, in being unafraid to challenge the structures, fictions and figments of the previous and present eras, are indeed quite few, certainly significantly fewer than what appears to be the case in the exuberance of uninformed self-admiration that has lately been environing us.”
And he is right. This informal project of a Federal Europe has so many variants and variations you could probably fill the Library of Congress with plans and projects and still not come to a conclusion. But there is something more. Quarrels and disagreements between federalists are something ordinary, and there is little surprise when they happen. Because as of yet there is no single vision, no banner to rally behind. We are all searching for that project, that initiative that is worthy, plausible and realistic.
But this idea, of a Federal Europe, is much more than that. It’s much more than a project. When first asked a couple of months ago when I think Europe can achieve true Federalization I answered with 70 to 100 years. Some laughed, some became serious, and some claimed the futility of a Federal Europe if it is to happen 100 years from now.
My estimate is quite easy to justify. And it has to do with what I see Europe becoming. It’s not just about the power system, or the release of national sovereignty. It’s not about a banking union or a fiscal treaty, a common army or coin. Federal Europe, before anything else is an idea. An idea of progress.
Systemic change can be achieved within the decade and made acceptable in the next. But the heart of a federal system lies with the people. If ordinary people can validate for themselves this new European dream, they will support it. If education becomes widely available for all regarding the federal system they will support it. I’ve spent the better part of the last three weeks checking to see how federalist themes were reported in national news outlets across the continent, and the bitter truth is that they are not. The only connection with a federal project comes from euro skeptics, who benefiting from lack of information, rage about this ‘’abomination’’. And it is our fault, as federalists, for not defending and explaining our vision.
To properly have a Federal Union, a functional and progressive one, the people of Europe have to assume this new identity. As one commentator rightfully observed the Civil War in the US has been over for more than 100 years, and there are still issues not dealt with. Europe must steer away from this danger, and put together an identity that works for everybody. As I always say, education is key.
This is why 100 years are needed. To create a functional mix of people that will be born and raised with this new European Dream. I’ve heard the phrase ‘’Europe was a dream” from many of those that lived to see the EU take shape and become what it is today. And this dream is achieved. A new dream is needed.