Opinions on a federalised Europe

Open Letter to the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Parliament

 

Dear Presidents

José Manuel Barroso

Herman van Rompuy

Martin Schulz

 

We are deeply concerned about the future of Europe. The ongoing political, social and economic crisis is once again threatening to divide the continent. The failure to effectively handle the crisis has created a great mistrust towards the institutions of the union among its own citizens. Populism and nationalism are on the rise in all members-states and there are in the wake of the crisis strong political voices who openly advocate for the breakup of our union.

This is a very dangerous development!

The crisis has also led to the creation of a number of organizations of engaged citizens advocating for a more democratic, stronger and solidary Europe. These organizations and individuals are taking different initiatives and are creating forums for debate, information and campaign to strengthen citizens’ participation in building the future Europe of citizens.

We are all very proud of what Europe has accomplished over the last 60 years, but we also see that the intergovernmental system no longer can meet the challenges of modern Europe. This system also has a top down approach which creates a great gap between leaders and citizens. Citizens are looking for alternatives to this tiered system. They seek participation, democracy and accountability. The democratic deficit that chronically afflicts the European Union is no longer tolerated.

The crisis has made it very clear, if we shall save Europe we need to rebuild and reform Europe, not only economically, but also socially and politically.

We are standing at a crossroad. The way we are going to choose will affect many generations to come. This is without a doubt the biggest challenge that united Europe have faced.

Europe is moving towards a federation or a breakup. A breakup would most likely move Europe towards a new era of divisions and crises that none of us want to experience or leave as a legacy to our children and grandchildren. An increasing number of citizens see a Federal Europe as the most pragmatic, long term solution for Europe. The question is, shall that federation be based on the foundation of citizens or nation-states?

This letter reflects the strong conviction of a group of European citizens from many member states and invites you, President José Manuel Barroso, President Herman Van Rompuy and President Martin Schulz to promote a new phase of reform of the European Union towards a democratic federation of citizens.

For a Europe we all want to live in

European Union 2013 06 12

Mathias Darmell

Hans Mund

Leo Klinkers

Matteo Laruffa

Bernard Barthalay

Horatiu Ferchiu

Ralf Grahn

Matteo Adduci

Leonie Martin

Francesca Lacaita

Emanuela Vulpetti

Gianluca Pastore

Luca Giustozzi

Wanda Broccucci

Chiara Stirpe

Gianmaria Ruscitti

Giovanni Sparagna

Massimo Bua

Roberto Cerroni

Eric Prenen

To further sign this letter please go to this link

This letter has also been published on the following websites:

1. AISES Academy

2. Grahnlaw

3. MaDarmell “About Europe”



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Comments

  1. “An increasing number of citizens see a Federal Europe as the most pragmatic, long term solution for Europe.” Please could you provide some evidence for this assertion? Any link showing a good proportion of people in favour of a federal state will do. Simply saying something does not make it true. For your information in the UK 4% of the population want the federal state you talk about, while 31% want just a trade agreement and a further 26% want to leave entirely. (http://chathamhousesurvey.org/default/summary/section-6/question-3 )

    Certainly in the UK it is not so much “strong political voices who openly advocate for the breakup of our union” but the ordinary people, it is they who are driving the politicians. Try to understand what that means.

    By the way “populism” as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (usually seen as the source of standard definition of words) means ‘a member or adherent of a political party seeking to represent the interests of ordinary people.’ Please could you explain why it has become a term of abuse by federalists ?

  2. Well, Iwantout, there IS a realization that global/European/transnational problems are to be solved beyond the nation state. You hear a lot of talk about the need for “more Europe” (well, maybe not YOU personally, but I do, for one). Federalists believe that the only way to make a supranational government democratic is through a federation with rules for a democratic government beyond the nation state. Intergovernmentalism (and free martket) is simply the law of the strongest. We believe in citizens’ empowerment and in self-determination – in an interconnected world, where you can no longer delude yourself with wistful phrases of yore like “ourselves alone”. As to “the people” – do you think ALL your countrypeople agree with Mr Cameron here: http://www.unionstogether.org.uk/page/s/tearing-apart ? Even on the euro opinions may well be divided: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/13/if-britain-had-joined-the-euro . “Populism” means presenting “the people” as if they were a single entity and arrogating speaking for everybody. The Britsh people can leave the EU if they choose to do so. The EU is no “prison of the people”

  3. Francesca

    I certainly do hear a lot of talk about ‘the need for more Europe’ (and please remember what they mean is more political EU) but strangely that comes only from politicians rather than ordinary people. I asked whether the authors of the letter had any evidence the people want ‘more Europe’ and I see once again you provide simple assertions rather than the evidence I gave showing that in fact there is no such demand.

    ‘Citizens’ empowerment’ and ‘ self-determination’ are strong phrases. I just wonder how they fit in to the repeated ignoring of referenda results that are unacceptable to the EU, replacement of elected representatives, creation of bodies entirely above the law etc. Personally it seems more like disempowering citizens at every turn.

    I have never used the phrase ‘ourselves alone’ but I fail to see why the EU alone in the World has to move to a single monolithic political structure where the rest of the World seems to manage perfectly well with nation states. Where exactly has a supranational construct imposed on unwilling populations worked well ? (Consider Yugoslavia, Austro- Hungary etc.)

    Your first link leads to an excitable piece suggesting all social legislation is the result of the EU. But given that much of the Health & Safety legislation in the UK was put in place before the EU existed this is an interesting if flawed line of argument. Similar points can be made for the other elements of the paper.

    The second link is simply a work of fantasy, how the EU and the UK would have been better off if the UK had joined the euro. It ignores entirely that at no point ever was there a majority in favour of joining, that no one was ever able to explain how the single currency could avoid the issues that have hit it and that even the most pro EU bodies in the UK (the CBI) are now against joining. (Amusingly enough the EU chief economist was fired for saying the euro would be a disaster prior to its launch.)

    Populism means exactly what the definition says, the views of ordinary people. Are you suggesting that because 4% of the UK population want to join a fully federal EU they should for some reason have their views put in front of the 96% who do not?

    If the people of the UK are ever asked about membership of the EU they will make their decision. It may be to leave or not, but I would suggest that it unlikely in the extreme that it will be to join a federal EU, which was after all what the letter that started this debate called for. How the EU would then deal with a state that is potentially inside the EU but outside the euro, outside Schengen, opted out of criminal justice, outside a common foreign policy, not part of a single defence policy etc is an interesting question.

    Cheers

  4. Iwantout, we all hear the politicians, but as to “the ordinary people” we only hear the people we hang around with (as I said, there’s no such a thing as an entity called “the ordinary people”, there re many different “ordinary people”).You and I must be hanging around with different sorts of “ordinary people”, that’s all. I am an “ordinary person” too. The people who wrote and signed the above letter are also “ordinary people”.

    Of course ‘citizens’ empowerment’ and ‘ self-determination’ hardly fit in to the picture offered by present-day EU, but that’s exactly the reason why we want a democratic federation. Indeed, that’s just the point of the letter above.

    I can’t speak for non-Europeans. But Europeans have had a long history of interacting with each other. It is interaction that creates “common-ness” and “community”. But what kinds of relationaships are thus formed? There has never been a “utopia” of peaceful nation-states in European history (not even in the British Isles/These Islands, if you consider). There were empires, or war, or both. European federalism is about building new kinds of rellationships between Europeans, based on equaliity and democracy at a supranational level as well. The British are obviously free to make their choice. But once they “opt out”, they shouldn’t be taking part in decisions affecting other people, right?

    I don’t expect you to agree with the linked pieces. But surely you can’t say that it’s “the ordinary people dribing Cameron”, can you?

    Cheers

    Francesca

  5. Francesca

    As you say to some extent our views about what ordinary people want is moulded by those we know. But it is also possible to look at polls to gain a wider view. You would have to accept that in the UK the EU has never had popular support and certainly today there is no appetite at all for membership of a federal state. Indeed if one views the Eurobarometer polls support for the EU has dropped to an all-time low across all the 27 countries. (30% viewing it positively and 29% negatively.)

    Personally I think it is entirely possible that an attempt will be made to form a federal state, indeed to prevent the collapse of the euro it is essential, although I suggest a calm disassembly would be a better option. But unless there is a genuine mandate from the electorate to form a federal state, moves in this direction will lead to massive dissatisfaction and ultimately violence. One only has to look to history to see many examples of artificial constructs put in place by the elite being torn down by those they were supposed to benefit. I just ask again, what evidence is there anywhere that people actually want such a state? Simply saying it over and over again does not make it true, a view supported by polling evidence from across the continent.

    Having accepted the potential need for a federal state (regardless of public will) you return to the UK problem. I accept that if the UK opts out then it is absolutely unreasonable for it to take part in decisions that do not affect it. But neither should the EU be able to interfere with internal UK matters. In short I agree entirely with the views of Jacques Delors – “The British are solely concerned about their economic interests, nothing else. They could be offered a different form of partnership,” ( 28/12/12 Handelsblatt), this from the Commission President who introduced the euro and is probably the arch federalist. The UK would return to what it joined, a simple trading association with the recovery of national sovereignty including the ability to negotiate its own trade arrangements. The EU would be free to create its federal state without the unceasing aggravation of the British. Everyone is a winner.

    If I may I will finish with the words of Giovanni Sartori, (the most renowned Italian political scientist alive) as reported on 27/03/13 Corriere della Sera “The problem is that a federal system requires a common language. People in United States speak English, German in Germany, India has inherited the English, Mexico the Spanish and Brazil the Portuguese. In Europe about 22 languages are spoken, which certainly cannot foster a federal aggregation” Gives you pause for thought, especially coming from someone who comes from one of the founding countries of the EEC.

    Cheers

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