September 3, 2012
A short look into togetherness
Let’s consider this scenario: in an apartment building live 16 families; each family has it’s own contracts for utilities; and all 16 families inhabit the same building. Now, one day, 5 families decide that sharing some of the costs of utilities could be beneficial. And so they take up a group contract, and decide to split the costs evenly as it was lower than individual contracts. Soon the other families decide to take a similar approach, so the group contract get enlarged. So now all costs are split evenly at 16, but since there are more consumers, and since not all families have the same apartment size or the same number of members it soon becomes obvious that this arrangement needs to be changed. Because they know each other, and to a certain point trust each other they decide to split costs via a very open system – at the end of the month each of the families report their consumption and costs are calculated accordingly. Some time after this quarrels emerge between families – some lie about their quota, some consider that the one calculating costs cheats, some chip in more to keep things going.
The families represent EU member states. And that apartment building – the EU. Recently, a debate erupted on twitter regarding frauds concerning EU funds ( as presented in this article). It was then debated that federalizing the EU would only increase this fraud.
Nation vs Federation
I would like to answer here, on a more elaborate scale, to this whole debate.
Fraud, as the one that was presented as evidence in this debate, is an issue residing with the nation state. And it’s quite easy to explain actually. The EU did not reinvent it’s members – the simple fact of the matter is that they still govern themselves, entirely. Full power resides with national governments, and to a large degree, it is the nation state that disposes of EU funds. Sure, documentation has to be provided, and sent to Bruxelles to be verified.
However, it resides with the national administration to verify that information provided is not bogus, and that no criminal underlining hides amongst carefully crafted documents. Central EU administration has no power to investigate such matters, other than to refer to national administration – thusly the circle is complete.
If a criminal organization can infiltrate the national/local government to such a degree as to enable fraudulous accession to EU funds, they are set for the long haul, as all further inquires will be addressed to the source of the same doubtful documents. You can’t loose.
Now it is arguable that a Federal Administration, doubled by a Local/Regional administration could in effect suffer from the same problem. And that could be very well true – people are corruptible, it’s just a matter of principles and value of bribery.
There is however a huge difference – once Federal, the EU will have the means to control all this directly – fiscally, administrative, and even legal action could be pursued independent of the local administration. Institutions equivalent to the American IRS or the FBI could provide a good insight. Further empowering the Interpol could prove beneficial also. A variety of possible tools could be used to properly verify at the source any type of intended fraud.
Introducing the “super”
The main point therefore would be that a Federal Europe could act as the association described at the beginning of this article, with the main difference that the contract is managed by a building manager, who can investigate all issues and maintain fairness.
A Federal Europe might be plagued by the same problems as current National Administrations, but without doubt the powers of the Federal Administration would be greatly increased in dealing with those issues. And with the pool of resources available at a Federal Level, under unified legislation and common principles, that could be ever so easier to achieve.