We know that the challenges facing Europe are difficult because we live in a complex and globalized world. It is time to build a real federal Europe, with a president, a government and a shared budget. Together we are strong enough to face global issues. Together we can be a real economic power. Socially and culturally, we become masters of our own collective destiny. It is time that the European citizen gets up to make his or her voice heard and to build the Europe of tomorrow. Modern Europe, efficient, clever, generous, working to the growth and well-being of its citizens. A democratic Europe that does not bend under the weight of technical procedures, administrative regulations or competing public powers. We should vector that tremendous waste of energy into something useful. A federal Europe should be a place of debate, reflection, and innovation, a school of learning from each other rather than a fragmented space dominated by the reluctance exploited by populism of all forms. A Europe organized, ambitious, sharing a common goal, whose combined skills offer the best possible safeguards to deal with the effects of the current crises and the challenges that await us tomorrow, before which each member state weighs heavy enough itself.
FOR A BETTER EUROPE
We believe in our future in Europe. As Europeans, we see our Plurality, Culture and the History of Democracy as unique Privileges and as a solid Basis for our Common Future. This is the time for full and direct participation of the European Citizens in shaping the future of a united, just and democratic Europe.
Our movement, Stand Up for Europe, has been established to unite European movements and citizens to strive for a new European Social Contract within a true, transparent and fair European Federation.
Because Europe Matters! And so does our voice!
The European Federation should have one President elected directly by the European citizens through universal suffrage and heading a European Government that will replace the European Commission.
A reformed European Parliament, with real legislative powers, should consist of a House of Deputies representing the citizens and elected through transnational lists, and a Senate representing the states and regions, in order to harmonize the collective interests of the federation with those of its constituent units.
We ask for a European Constitution, which would finally allow to go beyond the existing set of treaties among countries and establish a real European Federation allowing to tackle key challenges on the basis of the subsidiarity principle.
We propose the introduction of new tools for direct citizens’ participation (including a European Referendum) for all European citizens irrespective of country of origin to be able to pronounce themselves directly on policy issues to be referred to them by the reformed European Parliament or the Executive, or following a request of a minimum number of citizens from across Europe. Any tool of direct participation will be accompanied by thorough pan-European debate.
A more integrated Europe will allow us to build on our strengths and skills and improve the functioning and productivity of our economy. This will in turn create more job opportunities, in particular for young people. Increased integration will also help us ensure full mobility of the workforce within the Federation and to preserve the European social model (see also below).
The European Federation should be competent on issues such as foreign and defence policy. It should have one single army with a single central command, one single diplomatic corps, and a single seat at the United Nations Security Council, representing a common European foreign policy.
The Europe Union should be a progressive force in the world, at the forefront of initiatives to advance respect for human rights, the reduction of inequalities, the peaceful resolution of disputes and the sustainable functioning of the global economy without short-term speculation.
A fiscal policy that gives the European government the financial resources to implement the key policies outlined in this statement and manage 20 to 25% of Europe’s wealth creation (a proportion similar to that of the United States of America) as opposed to the minuscule 1% that is managed at present. There should be some pooling of sovereign debt.
We are conscious of the fact that our movement requires the support of a great number of people. For this reason, we urge all Europeans of goodwill, whatever their political orientation, all women and all men who share our vision, all private organisations, businesses, associations, and other stakeholders receptive to our message, to join us in building the Europe of tomorrow: A Europe with the ambition to reverse the decline which has mired it for too long and give new meaning to collective political action.
The Stand Up Team
Like you, we are ordinary citizens. Like you, we care about our own futures and those of our children. Like you, we belong to society and we are concerned with the changing trends and international events. That’s why we decided to take our responsibilities and to found Stand Up. From all political backgrounds, social and professional, we share a common realistic vision that is neither left nor right, refusing the easy-to-make promises and all forms of demagoguery. We are not trying to do work of political careerism, we are simply carrying citizens of a project likely to revitalize the economy, promote social justice and be more redistributive than the current financial situation that is no longer secure, and reconnect with the European vision. Students, employees, office workers, contractors, self-employed people, artists and teachers, the founding members of Stand Up are all these at once.
Richard Laub is a commercial engineer from the Solvay Business School and holds a Masters in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University in the US. He was an associate partner in the consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton and Accenture before creating Dragon Sourcing, a company specializing in the management of international purchases. Richard took the initiative in founding Stand Up for the United States of Europe in 2013.
Pietro de Matteis
Who I am
As a convinced federalist I first joined the European movements (e.g. JEF, GFE) after my Erasmus year at University of Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne in 2003 when I was engaged in the campaign for the ratification of the “European Constitution”. It is back then that I first considered developing a pan-European federalist party.
An economist by training, I graduated from the University of Milan-Bicocca (summa cum laude) and obtained a Masters-level degree from the European College of Parma. Thanks to some scholarships and by working aside, I had the opportunity support my studies towards a PhD in international studies form the University of Cambridge and to research in the USA (Columbia University) and in China (Renmin University).
As I believe that we can improve Europe also “from the inside”, I currently work for the European Commission where I manage cooperation programmes with third countries. In the past I worked for the Chamber of Commerce of Milan, for a Multinational Company in Shanghai, for the European Central Bank and for the EU Institute for Security Studies.
At the same time, a lot can only be changed “from the outside” by engaging with Europeans directly. For this reason I am actively involved in politics as one of the co-founders and President of the European Federalist Party. In this capacity I stood as an MEP candidate in Belgium with our list Stand Up for the United States of Europe at the latest European Elections and I was elected vice-President of the movement Stand Up for Europe emerged from the merging process of the European Federalist Party, Stand Up for the United States of Europe and USE Now!
As Europe is diversity, I speak Italian, English, French, Spanish and Chinese.
- CCTV News – World – Schengen agreement under intense pressure;
- Press TV – World – Critics: EU failing on security, refugee issues
- CCTV – America and CCTV News– World- “EU Commission President proposes EU military force” and “EU Army”
- Press TV – World – Critics slate Cameron’s EU reforms deal
- Defence News – World – “Britain Rejects EU Army Proposal”
- ANSA – Italy – Lista di giovani euroentusiasti in campo in Belgio
- Euractiv.com– Europe – Pietro De Matteis- Federalist candidate: “It’s not about immigration, it’s about mobility”
- The Wall Street Journal – World- “Election Over, Europe Launches a Turf War“
- L’Echo – Belgique – «Stand Up» veut bâtir les États-Unis d’Europe
- La Libre – Belgique – “Stand Up” se lance dans la bataille pour l’Europe
- Euronews – World – “Interview with Herman Van Rompuy”
- Europost – Europe– Pietro De Matteis, co-President of the European Federalist Party: Non-Europe costs dearly
- L’Indro – Italy- “Interview with Pietro De Matteis: “Le richieste dell’iniziativa europea: rispettate il nostro voto”
- One Europe -Europe- “Interview with Pietro De Matteis, MEP Candidate in Belgium”
- Europa United – Europe – “Federalism week – in conversation with Pietro De Matteis, president of the European Federalist Party”
- Onet Wiadomosci – Poland – Słowa Donalda Tuska nt. integracji w UE. Pietro De Matteis: nie poddamy się, muszą usłyszeć nasz głos
- L’Echo (Belgium), Calea Europeana (Romania), Via Diplomacy (Greece), The Open Cyprus Daily (Cyprus), Euractiv/Blogactiv.eu (Europe) – “Open letter to two and all European leaders (in 8 languages): “Angela and Alexis stop playing with our future” by Pietro De Matteis and Georgios Kostakos.
- Capital Finance International – World- Summer 2014 (page 58)- Democracy and a Social Contract: The Way Forward for Europe. by Pietro De Matteis
- The Parliament Magazine – Europe- “Juncker appointment ensures first ‘democratically legitimate’ EU” by Pietro De Matteis
- The New Federalist – Europe – We need a “third way” for Europe! by Pietro De Matteis
- TreffpunktEuropa.de – Germany “Wir brauchen einen dritten Weg für Europa” by Pietro De Matteis
- The Parliament Magazine – Europe- “Juncker’s election ‘crucial step’ towards United States of Europe” by Pietro De Matteis
- The Parliament Magazine – Europe- “EU faces prospect of ‘coup d’état’ by European council” by Pietro De Matteis
- The Parliament Magazine – Europe- “Federalism would bring Europe ‘closer to the people’, says MEP candidate” (Pietro De Matteis)
- Project for a Democratic Union – Europe- “A federalist vision for Europe” by Pietro De Matteis
- Capital Finance International – World – “Europe’s First Transnational List has been Presented by the European Federalist Party“ by Pietro De Matteis
- Capital Finance International – World – Autumn 2013 – Winter 2013/2014 – European Union: The end of the crisis brings a new beginning by Pietro De Matteis
- Ministry of Regional Development, Poland – 2013 – “Rural-Urban Partnership for Sustainable Development” by Pietro De Matteis and Sabrina Lucatelli
- European Union Institute of Security Studies – Occasional Papers June 2012 – The EU’s and China’s institutional diplomacy in the field of climate change by Pietro De Matteis
Born on february 28 in 1995 in Budapest. He is both Hungarian and Belgian citizen. He graduated in Bachelor of Political Sciences of Saint-Louis University in Brussels and he is currently studying a Master degree in European Studies at the European studies institute of the ULB in Brussels. Dynamic and committed, Europe is part of his everydays life and looks forward to living in a Federal European Union. He is strongly dedicated to Stand Up for Europe since January 2016 and carries on his job as Secretary General of the movement.
He is the founder of the student society: “Students for Europe” at Saint-Louis University in Brussels. He was in charge during 2 years of the co-presidency of that mentioned student group. He is, still today, the International Officer at FEL (Fédération des étudiants libéraux) and attended several European youth liberal Congress. He was also former treasurer and vice-president of the liberal students society at Saint-Louis university.
Today, he is the Secretary General of Stand Up for Europe since January 2016 and got re-elected in december 2016 for a new mandate. He was the responsible for youth sections before that.
Jacques de Ridder
After my graduation as master in trade and international relations and a scholarship in Hong Kong, I started my career in the private sector in various business areas but always in the field of international trade both in insurance and reinsurance, and textile and held various positions in marketing and sales, strategy and mergers & acquisitions for a leading European building materials group. My activity covered a large part of Europe, Africa, Middle East and mainly Asia. My activities have allowed me to witness firsthand the economic emergence of South East Asia, China and India . At the same time my exposure to the global scene has convinced me of the value and the necessity of the European project .
Today, I provide consultancy services to MSE ‘s, related to investment and business development projects I live close to Brussels in the Flemish countryside with my wife and two daughters. I love art, my cello and beer brewing.
Fernanda Neutel is Portuguese, living in Lisbon at the moment. She is currently the head director of the first degree course in European Studies and International Relations- Lusófona University, Lisbon. She holds a PhD in Political Science and a Master degree in International Relations from Leeds University, United Kingdom. She has been lecturing courses on Politics and Policies of the European Union at Bachelor, Master and PhD Levels, since 1999. She also worked in Leeds- United Kingdom- for some time teaching Portuguese Language, Literature and Culture in the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield.
She has taken part in several European University projects. In 2016, she was involved and coordinated the Portuguese role in the project ´´ Curriculum Development and Capacity Building in the field of EU Studies“ (TEMPUS Program- European Commission) coordinated by the Khazar University, (Baku-Azerbaijan), also comprising Leiden University (Netherlands), Lodz University (Poland), Genova University (Italy), and others.
She is an attentive observer of the European Union process, publishing quite frequently. Her PhD thesis entitled ´´Portugal in the European Union- the integration of the Portuguese MEPS in the European Parliament´´ was published in 2005. She published a chapter entitled “Pushing the Union Forward? The Role of The European Parliament in the Union’s crisis” in Demetriou, Kyriakos,eds, The European Union in Crisis, Explorations in Representation and Democratic legitimacy, in 2015. And recently, she has been publishing in Katoikos.eu where the following articles were reproduced: ´´Does the European Union need an army? ´´; ´´Solutions for the Post-Brexit Political System´´ and ´´What it takes to win elections in Portugal´´. At the moment, she is doing research on the new post-austerity social movements in Europe, and in the new social movements in Portugal, at local level, after a project funded by the FCT, the national foundation in charge of research projects.
She has been a senior member of the European Federalist Party since 2012. She first was vice president in Portugal for two years and, in 2015, she was elected chairwoman for the European Federal Council. In December 2016, she became a board member of the Stand Up for Europe movement involved in the following projects´ coordination: Students for Europe, city sections, and policy – content.
Hubert Heine, 65 years old, has a Master’s degree in Business and Commerce Engineering from Université Catholique de Louvain, as well as a doctorate in Management from the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. He has been an executive officer at Tractebel Engineering (at the GdfSuez group) first representing Tractebel in West Africa at Abidjan at the African Bank of Development and at the World Bank for Africa and then as Director of European Affairs for Tractebel, in charge of the European Bank for reconstruction and development, the European Commission, and the European Investment Fund. Now retired, he is married, has five children, and lives with his wife and donkeys in the beautiful countryside of Hesbaye.
Georgios Kostakos is currently the LIFE Climate Action Sector Coordinator at NEEMO EEIG. He has previous had broad experience with the United Nations system in New York and in the field, including on climate change, sustainable development, and strategic planning. He has also worked with the European Commission, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), the University of Athens, The Hague Institute for Global Justice and Salzburg Global Seminar. Georgios has a PhD in international relations and a mechanical engineering degree, and is also currently serving as Executive Director of the Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS) and publisher of Katoikos.eu.
Born in 1981, Italian and living in Veneto, Mauro Casarotto graduated in Political Sciences and International Relations at Padova University, presenting a thesis about the reform of the United Nations. He actually works in insurance. He is a writer and he published, in 2014, a pamphlet: ‘Krisis’ about the causes and the possible solutions to the actual crisis of the western world, tracing back its origins to a deep cultural failure of our societies, not only our economies. He has been active for several years in non-profit organisations involved in culture, sports, politics. He decided to involve himself in such a great adventure, the launch of Stand up for Europe, since he didn’t accept to see the results of many years of fought be ruined by the raise, once again, of nationalism, populism, xenophobia and fear. It appears to him that only an open and united society, no more divided by boundaries, but respectful of our different cultures and traditions, will allow our Europe to be free and prosperous. He loves to relax in nature, having a break between forests and mountains.
Agronomist and writer. 59 years old. Born in Rennes ( France). I have been involved in sustainable development cooperation programs in Sahel and Amazonia.
I have been working with the UN, Ministry of Agriculture in France, and the EU, before dedicating my time to writing. I have been a european activist with the European Federalist Party ( EFP),
for which I have run for the european elections in may 2014, in South East of France where I am presently leaving. I speak french, english, spanish and a bit of italian and german. I have written several books on Europe, where I talk about my european identity and european history.
At at time where many politicians talk about the need to come back to a national narrative, I am proud to be part of the building of a european narrative.
After obtaining his degree in Economics and Business in 1968 and having worked one year as Assistant for Professor Enzo Spaltro in Chair of Work Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan, he was employed by the Montedison group – the main Italian chemical industry – in the area of the Human Resources Development. He worked for over 20 years in this company, from 1977 as company executive and, after a few years, as responsible of the European Public Affairs and Associations.
In 1991 he went to Enichem- the chemical business of the ENI – as Head of the European Public Affairs and Associations and moved to Brussels, where he lived until 1997, when he came back to work at the Enichem Headquarter in Italy as head of the European Public Affairs and Communication.
After retiring, he started new activities and experiences in the area of volunteering: assistance (Caritas) and adult education (Associazione Culturale Nova Cana).
In July 2015 – concerned about the emergencies that put at risk the very unity of the Europe for the rising tide of populism – he decided to start the web page “Stati Uniti d’Europa entro il 2020”, which reached in a short time 900 followers. Few months later, “United States of Europe now!” was funded as a merge with two other pro Europe web pages. In November 2016, this web page already reached the remarkable target of 12500 followers.
On 3 December 2016 he became Member of the Board of the new association “Stand Up For Europe”, formed by the merge of “United States of Europe now!”, “European Federalist Party” and the former “Stand Up For the United States of Europe”.
His favourite motto “together we can succeed” seems to come true.
Interests: Politics, economy, music, travelling
Languages spoken: German, English, French
Current things I’m doing: Doing an European Voluntary Service in a Steiner primary school and kindergarten in France, Member of the social media team of SUFE on facebook, improving my French
What did I do before: Finishing High School with A-Levels
After studying economics (master in economics, Panthéon Paris) and a few years at the Caisse des Depots et Consignation, France Michel Caillouët joined the European Commission in 1975, which he left in 2007.
He worked on European issues relating to the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), energy (global energy savings and transformation networks), food aid, development aid and economic cooperation .
He was also responsible for policy issues on Latin and Central America (he prepared and participated in the San Jose peace process, Costa Rica, 1984 ).
In 1996 he was appointed Ambassador for the European Union in South-East Asia and then in South Asia (2000). In this context, he participated in the settlement of conflicts in Cambodia, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
After 2 years as the Commission’s representative to the COPs (Group of Ambassadors in charge of European political cooperation and defense policy), he became the first Ambassador of the Commission to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
He is member of the EFP board since 2014, and was candidate for the 2014 European elections ( South east France )
I am currently in the last year of my master’s degree at the Institute for European Studies in Brussels. Before joining the Institute for European Studies, I graduated with a Bachelor in international relations and Political science. Since September 2015, I am a member of the Bureau at Stand Up for Europe, a EU civil society movement. I contributed to raise EU officials and citizens’ awareness on federalism necessity. My task included meeting with MEP’s and the developing local offices and students associations in Belgium, France, Netherlands. I also founded a students association at the ULB named “Cercle Students for Europe”. Part of our activities included, amongst others, the organisations of conferences with Belgian and EU top officials and the development of a one-week intense study seminar on Euroscepticism in Budapest. My role in the new board will be to manage Stand Up major projects including our current European Citizen Initiative on migration and asylum and the European Youth Convention.
Politician, philosopher, poet, and full time social media manager. Member of the Young European Federalists, co-founder of USE, and therefore co-founder of the new Stand Up.Student in the field of International Relations, Social Science, Political Science, and Management between October 2013 and March 2017 at the University of Erfurt and the Sciences Po Lille. Currently traveling this planet.
Project manager, Public Affairs analyst and Media expert with 4 years of experience in European affairs (EP, EC, EEAS), Consultancy services, Entrepreneurship and Advocacy. Always up for new challenges,I am willing to work proactively to improve the impact and outreach of Public policies, Private sector innovations and Citizen initiatives.
- David “Draco” Zühlke – Team Leader
- Mauro Casarotto
- Hector Niehues-Jeuffroy
- Leandrit Ferizi
- George Cioti
- Francesco Paolo Sgarlata
- Tobias Hassebrock
- Kathariina Kuckla
- Chryssi Tsirogianni
OUR VOLUNTEERS TEAMS
OUR PROGRAM: IT’S YOUR EUROPE!
We Europeans are facing new challenges. High unemployment, the rise of nationalist movements, the dismantling of our social protection systems, the economic crisis, climate change, an increasingly unstable neighborhood and the emergence of world powers on a continental scale , to name only these examples. It is becoming increasingly clear that our countries, each on its own, are not capable of responding to problems of this century. Simultaneously, the European debt crisis has shown that the present European Union is not well equipped to address these challenges. In other words, we are losing control over our future. That is why we Europe must integrate further. We can no longer afford to waste our resources on the duplication of national competencies, such as defense, diplomacy, and energy. These many expensive redundancies amount to hundreds of billions of euros. Contrary to popular belief, it is not European integration but the lack of European integration which costs Europeans a lot. Redundant competencies represent exorbitant expenses that could be easily prevented by pooling some part of our competencies, resources and public debt. However, this will only be possible if “we”, the European citizens, share that vision, the vision of a European democracy that is transparent and accountable to its citizens.
We Europeans must solve the fundamental question of what we share and what we want to achieve together. This requires a pan-European political debate involving all citizens. Only a truly participative approach can nurture a genuine sense of belonging to the European project and strengthen the democratic legitimacy of decisions taken at the European level.
We Europeans want to ensure that our quality of life and that of future generations take again a central place in the political debate. Employers and employees, pensioners and students, are all closely interdependent. Together, we can overcome our present difficulties and pave the way for a “new European Renaissance”.
In order to refine our thinking with regard to the challenges faced by tomorrow’s Europe, we have written, with the support of experts, a series of thematic documents. They will allow you to better know our vision of a federal Europe. Nonetheless, it is important to note that these documents don’t necessarily reflect the opinion of all the members of Stand Up For Europe.
- Build a strong democracy of 500 million citizens in Europe
- A dynamic European economy for more jobs and better
- Ensuring social justice for all
- Improving the quality of life of Europeans
- A Secure Europe in a safer world
- Immigration and development
- Fiscal consolidation while addressing the recession? Yes it's possible
- We Europeans living together in Europe
Regarding the major role it could play on the global scene, how can the EU reinforce its credibility and visibility
- In the field of diplomatic relations and defence?
- When it comes to trade and cooperation with the emerging powers?
- In relation to development aid?
- In the matters concerning cooperation and strategic partnerships with international organisations?
In this context, what are the proposals and the means Stand up for Europe can put in place so that the EU can actually claim and achieve a real global stature in its foreign relations and speak with one voice in a multipolar world?
1. State of play:
The relations of the EU with the rest of the world are many and varied but they don’t represent the global stature the EU could claim in its will to unite a whole continent.
The most recent Treaty of Lisbon lead to a major evolution in the field of external action with the creation of the role of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the put in place of the diplomatic branch of the EU, namely the European External Action Service (EEAS).
The High Representative (currently Ms. Federica Mogherini) is entitled to the functions in the field of foreign affairs previously exercised by the rotating presidency, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (Javier Solana) and the European Commissioner in charge of external relations.
The EEAS assists the High Representative in ensuring the coordination and the coherence of the external action of the Union.
It also assists the President of the European Council (Donald Tusk) and assures a close cooperation with the Member States.
- Lack of unity, vision and concerted direction of the common foreign and security policies due in particular to the dysfunctions of the institutional project and to the absence of a political union for the EU.
- Lack of consistency between the external action of the Union represented by the EEAS and each Member State individual embassies around the world.
- Second-tier player in the consolidation of the peace processes following the world larger conflicts.
- Lack of consistency in the EU development aid, as it cannot profit from its status of largest donor due to the plurality of its Member States bilateral aid provided under their respective sovereignties.
- Lack of a common defence policy and very limited means to contribute to the world security.
- The absence of specific EU representations to large international institutions, multilateral organisations and international and regional investors, particularly the IMF, the World Bank Group, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the African Development Bank. In all of these international fora, Europe does not speak with one voice.
- Frequent application of restrictions and distortions to trade exchange at the expense of Europe
3. Proposals for improvement:
In the absence of a political union, highly symbolical initiatives should be concretely put in place in order to build momentum; in this context, the title of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy should be changed into the more daring qualification of EU Minister of Foreign Affairs, with real decision-making and organizational prerogatives.
Accordingly, the delegates of the EEAS should be qualified once and for all as EU ambassadors and entitled to concrete decision-making and organisational prerogatives.
Finally, the Commissioners in charge of common policies exclusively entitled to the EU and linked to the external world ( such as Trade, Competition, Monetary Affairs, Environment, R&D), should be boldly defined “Ministers of the EU”.
Free-trade wishful thinking should stop and deliberate and baseless trade restrictions should be sanctioned by antidumping duties (e.g. imposing taxes on Chinese solar panels); in our trade exchanges we must present ourselves as a united power and play the major role we are supposed to play in global trade. Consequently, we must go after all protectionist moves taken by some large third countries and when necessary dare to adopt retaliatory measures proper of our position of world’s largest trade bloc.
In a more comfortable field such as development aid, it seems urgent to aggregate and mutualise the contributions of each Member State through voluntary actions, coordinated and centralised by the EU. By doing so, a common development aid policy eventually depending on the EU would be within reach.
For the records, the amount of development aid coming from the EU and its Member States equals to about 60 bln euros per year, making the EU the world’s main donor.
A European mutualisation of the ODA (Official Development Assistance) would allow a better optimisation in the resource allocation and it would model itself on the example set by the EU in humanitarian aid. The EU humanitarian aid (ECHO) is indeed paradigmatic and it makes it easier to react in an effective and coordinated way to every international urgency.
It is evident that the EU should speak with one voice within large international organizations such as the IMF, the WB, the EBRD, the IDB, the ADB, …; As a matter of fact, every Member State is represented, creating an onerous mismanagement that should once and for all disappear, giving way to a single specific representation of the EU to the international institutions and regional development Banks alike.
Notwithstanding the above, Europe’s external relations strategy should first and foremost take into account the adoption of a common defence policy. This substantive matter is about Europe as a “power” in the new polycentric world that surrounds us and can no longer wait. 1914 is long gone, the world is now multipolar and it is about time to provide Europe with the classic attribute of a power, namely the common defence now completely lacking. A common defence policy should both incorporate an autonomous military capability operating under the European flag and sustain a European defence industry (e.g. the realisation of the multi-national military transport aircraft AM400). Currently, the European contribution to global security and stability mainly consists of formation and support whereas a real deploy of military means should be put on the agenda. For this purpose, a systematic coordination of the Member States’ military capabilities and investments is more important than ever and should be framed by a European strategy; a particular effort should be made in the field of cooperation between the defence industries and military R&Ds. Let us remind ourselves that the EDC (European Defense Community) treaty of 1952, imagined by the visionary Jean Monnet, was signed by 6 States but rejected by France on August 30th, 1954. Times have changed, as well as the stakeholders and the international geopolitical environment and there are new urgent decisions to make.
In addition to the above, the European identity on the global scene should finally cover other strategic priorities, in particular:
- Macroeconomic regulation
- The fight against international terrorism
- The modernization of social protection
- Energy issues
- Technological innovation
4. Specific assets:
The deployment of a European strategy at the world level can also build on and take advantage of certain assets and strong points inherent to the European Union, in particular:
The EU is historically attached to human rights and it watches over their universal respect. For this reason, the EU places human rights at the heart of its external relations, being it the enlargement process to new members, political dialogues with third countries or its development aid policy.
The reaction mechanism for catastrophes and humanitarian aid is an example of cooperation of the EU.
The EU can claim to be spearheading the negotiation process on climatic change towards an international binding agreement. For this reason, the EU represent a major player on the global scene in the fight for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Notwithstanding certain apparent weaknesses, the EU constitute the world’s largest trading bloc; trade is a common policy and when it comes to trade, the EU has the capability (even though it sometimes lacks the will) to speak with one voice during the negotiations with its international partners.
As a result of the foregoing, it is clear that the mutualisation of the military expenditures, the diplomatic services, the development aid, the humanitarian aid and the representations of the Member States within the international fora must be considered an urgency and a priority. Such measures would would be the consequence of a triple logic: politically, the Union would be able to realise its ambitions on the global scene; operatively, it would be given the means to be active on the ground; economically, it would be able to guarantee employments and stimulate innovation in a period of austerity.
Above all, this would be undoubtedly accomplished accordingly to the rationale of the citizen, in full respectance, despite the tough times, of the European citizens.
Thanks to Alessandro Zerbini for the voluntarily translating this document.
- The current situation of the European political institutions
The European political institutions have undoubtedly managed, since their creations and throughout the multiple transformations that followed, to get the different European States considerably closer. Thanks to a subtle balance between a centralized organisation and the institution representing member states, they have succeeded in moving the European cause forward.
On the spur of great architects, Europe has been able to invent an original structure and organisation of which you have to appreciate the continuous attempts to adapt. Especially in a period of crisis and in a globalised world.
- Political Institutions: a supranational structure upholding the collective interest (the Commission), a Council gathering Heads of State or Government (the European Council), a Council gathering Ministers with the same functions of the European States (the Council of the European Union) and a single chamber Parliament are today the institutions that strongly contribute to the European cohesion. Moved by the will to connect the European and the National levels, the Union has five Presidencies: the Presidency of the Commission, held by a political figure for 5 years and in charge of European interests; the two Presidencies of the 2 Councils (one of which on a permanent basis, held by a political figure for 2 years and a half and the other held by a Member State for 6 months); the Presidency of the Parliament, chaired by a political delegate for a 5 years long legislature and the Presidency of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who chairs the Foreign Affairs Council and is appointed for 5 years.
- Political Functioning: the simplified ordinary legislative procedure performs as follows: and the Commission only presents a simultaneous proposal to both the European Parliament and the Council. Often this happens at the European Council’s request. A negotiation process… between the delegates of the 3 institutions follows the proposal, in order to find a compromise on the text. If the procedure succeeds, the final draft is subject to the vote of the Parliament, met in plenary session and if adopted, the draft will be ratified by the Council (subject to minor amendments if needed).
- The inadequacies of the present Institutional frame
The Treaty of Lisbon created a balance of power between Member States and the Commission by extending the Parliament’s powers. One needs to positively accept this desire for democratization in which making a decision is not always easy, due to the fact that we come from multiple political traditions that the Commission wants to respect.
However, this search for balance between national politics and supranational bodies has resulted in a series of political incoherences. Nevertheless. these could be appreciated thanks to the steps forward that made the complex European project possible, but have become now an obstacle to the progress of the European construction. The compromises reached as a result of intergovernmental negotiations have generated contradictions that collide with the reality of the contemporary world, which requires rapid, coordinated and efficient responses.
The incoherences of Institutions:
- Conflict of interest and confusions of competencies: when the political organisation of modern States rests on a distribution of policies clearly defined by competencies and territoriality, Europe has a rather confusing institutional framework: the European Commission, representing the European public interest has at the same time both, executive and legislative functions. Certainly, to the extent that national governments have the ability to deposit draft legislation to their respective parliaments, you might be tempted to make an analogy with the Commission, but there are two major differences. The Commission has the monopoly over the legislative proposal, while national Parliaments have full and complete legislative function. The expansion of Parliament’s powers is thus limited because it does not enjoy the same rights of national parliaments even though it is the only European institution composed of directly elected members and with a mandate to deal with European Affairs. On the other hand, Government is the real political driving force of the state. It is the one who sets the main guidelines and puts into practice its political vision. Conversely, this function of giving momentum isn’t embodied by the Commission, which is involved in the formalization of the proposition, but rather by the European Council, that is by the national entities that compose Europe. It’s a bit as if the Belgian Federal Entities (Communities and Regions) defined the Belgian Federal Government Program. Moreover, the European Parliament, composed of elected deputies representing the collective interest of Europe, equally shares the legislative power with the EU Council, a body composed of representatives of national executives, which is also appointed.
- Loss of Democratic representation: Even though the Heads of State or Government are elected, the Commissioners and 4 Presidents out of 5 are appointed. Naturally, the appointment of the President of the Commission and Commissioners must be confirmed by Parliament and history has proved that it can actually exercise this right. But the appointment proposal is not in any case tied to the election ballot. The result is that 4 out of the 5 current Presidents are not vested with any direct popular legitimacy, unlike the President of the Parliament, himself elected European deputy, appointed by his equals to chair the institution.
- Lack of clarity and univocal political leadership: There are several presidents of the executive organs, and not only. None of them disposes of true political powers capable of embodying a long term European vision for the simple reason that their appointment depends exclusively or essentially on the most influential States or Government Leaders in the case of the Commission or the European Council. As to the Presidency of the EU Council, which only lasts six months, it does not allow to develop major projects. The reality of the political exercise of power mainly lies still today in the hands of the States. Recall for example that the Treaties, and particularly the Lisbon’s one, are the product of intergovernmental negotiations. That seems evident, but other options are actually possible. Nothing prevents from imagining that the institutional reforms are drafted by the European Parliament first, and then submitted for ratification to the States which need the approval of ¾ of them, so that the reforms are definitely adopted.
The inconsistencies of the political modus operandi
Although the European institutions are called to defend the European interest, the current modus operandi doesn’t allow to obtain a proper democratic, collective and responsive autonomy:
* The European Parliament has no right of initiative
* The Parliamentary control over the executive is real but limited
* A large number of decisions on political orientations have started at the European Council level, moving the national interests to the European level at the expense of the Commission, guardian of the collective interest. Also, the tripartite negotiations during the simplified ordinary legislative procedure remain confidential. Also for the Parliament that finds out the resulting final proposition only through the rapporteur’s report. Therefore the preliminary voting procedure is very opaque.
* The technical complexity of the issues, because of the co-presence of the 28 States, is given often priority over the political content, which gets lost in the process.
* Although unanimity vote is today less applied than before, it remains applicable to a variety of essential matters such as taxation, the harmonization measures in the sector of social security and social protection or foreign policy and common security, which creates heavy delays in the decision making process and makes a proper European reactive policy impossible.
* This same structural problem is also present in the membership of the European candidates to their national formations, which still keeps them from acting free from national influence.
* Even more fundamental, the High Representative for the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is not given the autonomy needed to make Europe’s voice heard in the world, as the respective interests of the European States prevent him from taking a clear and decisive position, if not to remember clichés that don’t bother anyone.
As we can see, the obsessive search of the balance mentioned above between the different European institutions on one side, and the interests of Europe and those of the European States on the other, only leads to a limited political will on a global scale. indeed, the Commission does not have the powers and competences the States have. Let us recall that the Treaty of Lisbon is the result of an intergovernmental conference.
It is necessary to underline also that the President of the European Council’s main function is to facilitate the formation of a consensus between the States. In other words, this search for balance actually benefits the States, since this modus operandi has relegated the role of the Presidents to mere facilitators and it does not confer them any governing function.
Public opinion tends to blame Europe for all evil and to attribute her an oversized power that she does not actually have.
The principle of subsidiarity implies that Europe should have competence on matters that could manage more efficiently than the States. However, there are many sectors that meet this criteria, such as diplomacy, defense or energy policy, which Europe cannot regulate because the States are still attached to certain prerogatives. Yet, these matters would be managed more efficiently and at a lower cost if they were administered at the European level as part of a global strategy. Moreover, the lack of purely political freedom of initiative that keeps the Commission from putting in place its projects with a long term vision, limit its activity to a strict executive and controlling role as guardian, as in the case of the economic governance, which is partially responsible for the technocratic and coercitive vision of Europe. What a paradox! In fact, it is often easier for the European Heads of State or Government to wave the “bogeyman” of the European Commission in front of their public opinion than to take responsibility for unpopular measures or the consequences of mistakes made in the past at the national level, as for example the excessive public debts or the inability of the States to respect the convergence criteria established by the Treaty of Maastricht.
The feeling of disconnection of the citizens towards the European institutions derives then from a lack of power and not from an excess, put into effect in the lack of autonomy of Europe due to the influence exercised on the organisation by the national governments.
Tight between the power of the financial markets and the dominance of the national stances that significantly reduce the rapidity and the impact of the decision-making process, Europe enjoys a narrow margin of manoeuvre. In addition, in the same way the absence of a unique and homogeneous territory comparable to that of a State increases the vulnerability of the Euro, the lack of political decision-makers with real powers over all the European States destroys the positive effect consequent to the force of a federal construction, effect of which each State should benefit, as we have demonstrated in another document.
We have in fact underlined, for example, how the mutualisation of the sovereign debts would permit to obtain clearly lower interest rates compared to the ones required to each single European State since the economic dominance of a federal Europe that accumulates its members’ debts, would diminish significantly the integrated risk for creditors in their calculation of the interests.
III. Our proposals
In response to these inconsistencies, Stand up For Europe proposes a structural and institutional reform with two precise goals: revitalize the European democratic vitality and provide the political institutions with the instruments to exercise their missions in accordance with their nature and their function.
In this aim, we hope to reform:
- the institutions, through:
– A European Constitution, elaborated and approved by a ⅗ majority of the members of the European Parliament, bestowed the constituent power, by a direct democratic consultation.
– A single fully-fledged European President, democratically elected with a majority voting system. Once elected, he will guide the executive branch and form the government (the present Commission), responsible before the Parliament and supported by a parliamentary majority. The executive branch’s competences will include the entirety of the common sectors, such as defense, economy, international commerce, immigration policy, social protection, external affairs, the environment, fiscality, the budget, competition, research and development, innovation, agriculture, cohesion, monetary affairs, development cooperation; his decisions will have force of law on the entirety of the European territory. These policies will be financed by a direct European taxation that represents from 15 to 20% of the cumulative revenues of the States.
– A bicameral Parliament which will have legislative initiative and a control function on the executive branch. The lower chamber, the European assembly, will have the mandate of suggesting and voting the laws regarding the domains defined by the constitution, as regarding the collective European interest, whether the initiative emanates from the executive (project) or the assembly itself (proposition). The high chamber, the European senate, will have the function of representing the member States in the elaboration and, together with the European assembly, the voting of laws (therefore replacing the European Union council, whose function very logically reintegrates the legislative branch). It will also oversee the convergence of both national and European interests. Unlike the president, the deputies and senators will be elected with a one round proportional method, in order to represent the highest possible diversity of opinions and political tendencies. The number of deputies by country will be determined by a partition key that will be directly proportional to the population of each State. The number of senators will be the same for every member State. Furthermore, the candidates will have the obligation to belong to transnational political parties, in order to ensure the protection and defense of strictly European collective interests, not represented on national lists.
– The President’s party must necessarily belong to the parliamentary majority-regardless of its relative weight- and the government must have the obligation to reflect all components.
– In this new political context, the search for a balance between nationalities as a criterion for the nomination of government’s members, totally disappears.
– A new legitimacy for the executive branch, based on competence and electoral consultation, allowing the political institutions to obtain the democratic seal.
– A real independence of the legislative power: The government initiated draft laws will be submitted to the vote of both chambers; the European parliament will fully possess the right to elaborate law proposals that will need to be accepted by both chambers and be implemented by the government in order to become executory.
– A new and more coherent balance between the two political branches freed from the chaperoning of the States. The executive power, now bestowed with a political objective, will from then on be able to fully implement its function governing the constitutive States, represented in the legislative branch by the European senate, and embodying Europe in full independence. The legislative branch will equally find itself reinforced by bicameralism, the right to initiative and the control of the executive.
– The creation of transnational parties allowing candidates to be on European lists and consequently remove them from their national political system in their decision making process as mandate holders.
As previously suggested we believe that the search for unanimity has become a too complex and no longer affordable process, especially with regards to the institutional reforms we propose.
This is why it appears more realistic and coherent with our project to initiate a federalisation process from the countries that originally signed the Treaties of Rome (Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy) and the other Eurozone States that so desire.
We are confident that this new Europe will create an emulative effect for the other members of the Union.
This implies giving the Eurogroup a judicial status that it does not possess for the moment, and to initiate the federalisation around a hard core.
Our institutional program is much more centered on democratisation, transparency and coherence than the Lisbon Treaty, born from the rejection of the constitutional treaty, in spite of being signed in Rome in 2004 by the leaders of the EU but rejected by both France and the Netherlands.
The Lisbon Treaty reflects the urgency of the period and remains bound by the search for a compromise, to make Europe advance, notwithstanding the rejection of the ratification process of the Constitutional Treaty.
The important incoherences that the Lisbon treaty has created are the result of the then inability to give Europe the institutions that could allow to initiate a political project, invested from time to time by democratic approval.
Our propositions return to the original federalist dynamic.
They give Europe the structures and the functioning that it needs in order to carry the ambitious democratic process that its citizens expect from Europe today, and give it the space it deserves in the world, ensuring a greater credibility in front of the other world powers.
The Union is a space where the death penalty is abolished in each of the 28 member countries and where rights and freedom are protected. Democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression and social rights are the cornerstones of Europe, which is the continent where fundamental rights are the best protected. Far better than the Americas, Asia or Africa.
Respectful of fundamental human rights, the European Union is maker of legal rules aimed at enforcing the freedom both of citizens and individuals. The European Union is not only a market but also a community of citizens sharing the same values.
The concept of European citizen is to be first found in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
Each person with the nationality of a Member State is also a European Citizen. This involves multiple rights: the right to move and reside freely in Europe, the right to vote and to stand both in European elections and in own country of residence in local elections, the right to petition and the right to diplomatic and consular protection.
These rights and those acknowledged by European laws are practised under control of jurisdiction of both European Union and national courts acting
as UE courts. There has never been such a big need for justice as in this historical moment when paradoxically the resources provided by most Member States are constantly decreasing.
WHAT ‘HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE
Some important progress has already been registered in the field of justice:
- the establishment of a common base of rules via directives and regulations, such as harmonization of criminal charges for terrorism, fight against money laundering;
- European arrest warrant replacing national extradition procedures;
- mutual recognition of sentences to be applied to processes in other
WHAT WE STILL CONSIDER UNSATISFACTORY
We think these projects are going in the right direction but still not thoroughly comply with an idea of full integration. We want to keep building a European justice area by establishing a truly legal Union and a Federal Justice.
– The laws applied uniformly throughout the Union do not cover enough fields, allowing criminals to exploit the differences between national penal codes
– The acknowledgement of mutual juridical decisions is positive, but this doesn’t mean the rejection of a fully federal justice to prosecute and judge criminals.
– The efforts towards the unification of the differences of the national laws ignore certain fields, such as the environment, which regulation won’t be really effective unless it reaches a European level.
– As long as the search for coordination won’t become a fully integration in those area of the law that can be better developed at a federal level, the European justice will be remaining a symbol more than an effective tool to fight the organised crime.
– Nowadays, despite progresses have been made in the field of judicial cooperation, the judicial action is still entrusted to national courts, each one with its own rules and its own approach. This lack of unification goes against the effectiveness of the repression among the Union.
– We support the creation of a consolidated general division exclusive of the justice, no longer shared with other competences such as security, since it might cause conflict of interests.
– We support the creation of the role of the Ministry of Justice for Europe. This Ministry would have the duty to make sure the States respect the EU law, appealing directly to the Court of the Union in case of breaches. Mutual recognition of a Member State shall be suspended in the case of worsening in law enforcement and if it loses its judiciary independence.
– We support the unification of Member States legislation also in other fields than economics, in order to ensure a better convergence of the national rights, in civil, social and environmental protection areas.
– Criminals exploit frontiers, this is why it’s more convenient to set up a penal European space and a European penal court.
– We support the institution of a European court fighting against the violations of the financial interests of the Union and against the most dangerous criminality within the Union. This new institution must be given the human and financial resources it needs. This court will be appointed by the Council of Ministers and by the European Parliament. It will be able to order the implementation of investigative measures (perquisitions and interrogations included) by respecting every national law. Prosecuted people will be judged by national laws, until the creation of a European penal court. There must be a wider European sovereignty about the management of the justice. At the same time, there is the need to support European agencies like Europol and Eurojust.
We are wondering if, in the full respect of the fundamental principles of the fair trial, the economic justice could be privatised in a certain way, encouraging the use of alternative ways of regulation of conflicts (conciliation, mediation, arbitrage, …) and third-party fundings. Regarding this latter and the rest of our proposals, we remain faithful to our will to modernize institutions and procedures, making them less formal and closer to the spontaneous organisation of the civil society.
Europe is an extraordinary opportunity to bring new strength to people’s competence and a huge stimulus for the strengthening of a european identity-making spirit. This is particularly true for students, adult education institutes and companies. If there is a matter that requires us to share our talents and coordinate our competences, that’s european education. It is not only indispensable for the future of the young and for providing workers the conditions in which they can continue their training in order to avoid professional stagnation, but it is also one of the most important social, economical and identity-making agents, both at an individual and collective level. At a social level, school passes down the fundamental values to children and makes them interact with the group, while mitigating their sense of otherness. What we are talking about is of course a high quality education, that will determine the social and professional future of the young people, the interpersonal ties in the social network they could benefit from in their home country and in the EU as a whole, and their best possible integration in the world of work once they will finish their studies. At an individual and collective level, the impact of a high-quality education is crucial for people who hope to find a long-lasting job. Unemployment and precarious work relentlessly erode the tissue of the civil society -even though the intensity of the process varies from country to country- and the future prospect for the EU citizens are expected to worsen.That’s the reason why Stand UP develops a vast plan of proposals concerning school, higher education, as well as lifelong learning.
I.THE RECENT EU EFFORTS FOR EDUCATION
European institutions started to gradually implement and encourage partnerships and student exchanges between universities. For instance, since its debut in 1987, the Erasmus programme allowed over three million students live and study abroad during their education, with average of roughly 180.000 students per year. The selected destinations are either other member states or countries like Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland or Turkey. The EU also managed to launch a vast programme of cooperation with companies, to increase the number of internships they offered, which are now mostly done by students. In addition to Erasmus, it’s most famous programme regarding education and training, the EU also created other programmes aiming to:
– obtain an abroad internship, in the sector of teaching and vocational training, for students, university staff and graduates looking for employment (Leonardo da Vinci);
– subsidize schoolteaching, offering teachers the opportunity to train abroad (10.000 teachers and 1.000 future teachers take part to this project every year), effectively giving the students of secondary education school the chance to study abroad (several hundreds of students per year) and creating partnerships between schools of different regions within the same common programme (COMENIUS);
– provide continuous training specialists opportunities to study abroad (Grundvig);
– encourage young people to hold informal meeting concerning citizenship, tolerance and learning about other cultures (Jeunesse en action);
– foster the creation of common programmes and diplomas between universities, make the exchange of students and personnel between european universities and the rest of the world much easier and promote european higher education in the world (Erasmus Mundus);
– promote higher education in the EU neighbouring countries (Tempus);
– enhance the cooperation among the higher education institution of the European Union and Latin America (Alfa);
– strengthen institutional and academic competences as well as regional integration in the matter of higher education, through the creation of a network of institutional relations between the European Union and countries members of the ACP group – a group of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (Edulink);
– develop the cooperation with industrialized countries in the matter of education, thus creating joint courses and diplomas.
These programmes have been merged into a single project in 2014: Erasmus +, with a 7 year budget of 14.7 billion euros (more than 40% the amount of the previous budget). «Over 4 million young people, students and adults alike will be able to experience studying, doing an apprenticeship or volunteering abroad and developing new competencies and skills. Erasmus+ will make the cooperation of more than 125.000 institutions and organizations possible, thus allowing them to innovate and modernize teaching and action programmes in favour of the young people. Together they will make youngs and adults acquire the skills they need to succeed in today’s world».
The increase in budget, the simplification of the administrative procedures and the firm will to enhance the synergy with the world of business go that way.
But is this fully pertinent and, most importantly, will this be enough?
II. LIMITS OF THE MODEL
We may cheer up for the European program Erasmus+, which shows the awareness of the importance of believing in education and mobility. However, at the same time, we must admit that institutional limits restrict the ambition of the project. The total budget for the Erasmus+ program grants only 4,2 euro each year per citizen, in the education sector! This number speaks for itself. The main mistake, in our opinion, is to consider Europe as a coordinator which responds to the requests of national institutions. European Union, instead, should promote foreign policies in the educations sector, that the countries would later put into practice, while obviously respecting the specificity , the independence of educational systems and national teaching. The simple role of expediter prevents the EU from establishing dynamics which put education at the heart of European politics, and not only with regards to means, but also in the real meaning. The general attitude of current policies has a too narrow range: they focus on exchanges within students and teachers, on partnerships, educational seminars, research programs or inter-academic courses, without developing deeply the logic of education; indeed, with regards to elementary and secondary school (universities as well) of state members, it does not take action to reinforce the European identity. Similarly, the offer does not imply pedagogical instruments which motivates – in the same study cycles – the European consciousness, the values of the citizenship, the cultural and linguistic diversity and richness, the legacy of the critical thinking of European rationality or the interest in the common heritage. Again, what is clearly needed is an harmonization of teachings, without which students find difficult to adapt in the hosting universities.
Moreover, the measures implemented by the European Union have revealed themselves as insufficient according to its current competences. Some example:
In the academic year 2011-2012, Erasmus exchanges have exceeded the 250.000 students, almost one and a half times the annual average. The reason is simple: the interest in the Erasmus program grows every year and it will go on, because students, like the citizens, are aware of the importance of the mobility within Europe: the global goal of the Erasmus+ program is to achieve 4.000.000 people (which is less than the the 1% of European population!) and to positively respond to two millions applications by student within seven years.This is not enough, because in the academic year 2011-2012 itself and applications increased by 7,5% for schools and by 18% for internships. This growing rates is still constantly growing.
The amount of Erasmus scholarships is currently insufficient to allow a student to regularly attend lessons or to do an internship in a company, since it is considered just a complementary aid. The scholarship are limited to a fixed share of mobility and to a monthly aid from 0 to 300 euros, depending on the economic situation of the family. Well, even the highest bracket of aid is not enough for a student, who has not its own resources, to afford to live abroad.
European union has set the goal, within 2020, of taking the number of 15 year old students with weak reading, mathematics and sciences skills, under 15%. Can 10 days of European internship for specialized instructors change the situation? The problem is evidently more spread and it is clear that EU has to implement some measures to solve it.
The 2012 PISA report by OECD has clearly highlighted the weak European performance in maths, science and reading. It has shown that Europe lags behind asian countries, but also that differences between Northern and Southern EU countries are more and more deep, and it enhances the risk of an internal fracture. Similarly, the report shows that belonging to defined social groups considerably disfavors the acquisition of knowledge. This reveals that the problem must be solved at the root. The European Union could have an essential role in offering to every young person the possibility of benefit from the programs, regardless of the social class. There is indeed a low chance that a student coming from a disadvantaged condition could achieve the education level necessary for an Erasmus scholarship! In order to correctly work and be accessible to everyone, the Erasmus+ program must embrace the necessary conditions for the achievement of this goal.
The need of education is not confined to students and to teaching staff but concerns the whole employed population: how could a professional keep on being competitive within the labour market if he can not affords to continue his formation at a convenient price within a system, whose quality is the same to his former one and congruent to his activity? As far as the professionals work and students learn, it’s impossible by definition. These european projects of mobility and continued formation for active and eager-to-learn people are even more relevant, considering that demographic studies show that average population is getting older and, consequently, the need of setting up a program focused on protecting the sectors which are vulnerable to professional development.
The relative lack of means, like the restriction about fields of application, blocks the creation of a european education policy adequate to match the challenges. It also underestimates the importance that formation, education and mobility represent for the development, through concrete exchanges and specific courses, of an european identity.
A good strategy must be conceived in accordance with the real needs of civil society, estimated at european level, as a reaction to the necessity to build a long-term european way of thinking and in order to create the basic conditions for an universal accessibility. This program must not be limited to teaching but should be able to be based on private initiatives made by citizens, e.g. the setting up of an european elder’s network willing to keep themselves active and to give people in formation, regardless of their age or level, their advices based on their experience. Nowadays, in Europe there are 73 millions of low or non qualified people in a context in which low qualified labour supply doesn’t stop to decrease. Also, early school leaving regards the 12.5% of europeans, functional illitteracy hits the 18%, the excess of employers in several sectors means that “dequalification”, which means that people with high competences get jobs suitable for lower qualified workers, is increasingly affecting the middle and upper-middle class and creating new poverty among the employed population. Today, the european rate of unemployment stands at about 10% and at 12% among the eurozone. Bruxelles estimates that the general rate of unemployment is higher than 20% and that more than 30% of young people is unemployed. This is the kind of problem that education must face. It doesn’t make sense if education doesn’t guide students throughout the life, offering them an added value which gives them the opportunity to have a place in the society from which they can enrich it, and get enriched by it; there is no point if education doesn’t provide the adults with the means necessary to continue their formation and to get new competences. Whereas national politics have failed, EU has better opportunities to resolve this crisis over the long period. However, in order to achieve this, there is the need to get a real Copernican Revolution through the federalization.
In our founding document, we have established that the federalization of a certain number of competences and the sharing of debts will result together in important savings, amounting even to hundreds of billions of euros: cutting interest rates on mutualized debts, realizing economies of scale through the development of a European energy plan, grouping different national types of diplomacy in just one diplomacy, reducing significantly the expenses thanks to the suppression of national armies in favour of European armed forces. These measures will contribute to the foundation of the European educational program Copernicus, which would respond to the necessity to strengthen the European identity and to European citizens’ crucial needs with regard to training and labour mobility. Copernicus would be a revolution in this regard and will aim at reaching the following goals:
1. Building up the European identity starting from specific and mandatory courses on awareness-raising in a common language for all Europe:
-Introducing a second European language since elementary school: English as a subject matter and another language as course subject;
-The same scheme will be applied for middle schools, introducing a third language, such as French, Italian, Spanish or German;
-Introducing a course related to European history, particularly focused on recent history;
-Introducing students to critical thinking in relation to the sense of civic duty, Europe and its values.
2. Improving coherence among programs and common modules taught in European schools:
Providing a certain number of common modules to be taught from primary school to university. The aim of this project is not homogeneity but an improved cohesion and harmony among educational institutions. Indeed, the essential goal is not to make schools and universities lose their peculiarity as it is the variety of approaches that characterizes the European value. On the other side, we aim at creating a common educational scheme which will lead all European students to have shared identities, methodologies and concepts.
As demonstrated by the results of the aforementioned OCDE study, national differences among European States are way too relevant and may even cause divisions and deep rifts. This is the most important risk factor for the implosion of the European Union. European States have proved themselves incapable of addressing the rising crisis, due to the lack of adequate means. Therefore, Europe needs now to take charge of this essential task, in order to strengthen the European identity, most importantly in the spirit of European citizens’ new generations. For example, improving cultural exchanges among European students will let them immerse in different cultural realities, ultimately enriching their experience as young European adults.
The introduction of new European laws, along with an adequate budget to realize these inspiring education programs, will definitely contribute to fight against the educational deficiencies of each European State.
3. Introducing a new dynamism of labour mobility in higher educational institutions:
50% of students enrolled in a higher educations institutions (high school or university) need to benefit from a grant system which will let them attend four semesters in another European or extra-European higher educational institution.
Grants will help in actuality all students, irrespective of their social status or condition. Moreover, grants do not have to be exclusive but inclusive, meaning that they can derive also from other types of organizations, such as associations or firms. Civil society thus plays a huge role in this project.
4. Overthrowing the old taboo which distinguishes education from job:
· Internships at enterprises must be encouraged, thus creating a wide program of cooperation between universities, enterprises and European institutions. This can be done only at a European level, since students’ specialization in a particular field do not necessarily correspond with the geographical place of its application in the market. Moreover, an experience at a foreign company makes students get a deeper knowledge of the real work in an international environment, which contributes to develop one’s own European identity and it is much more worthy compared to an experience at a geographically closer company.
· Creating centers financed by enterprises linked to excellency fields would let universities benefit from enterprises’ experience and complete the curricula they offer and enterprises contribute to the financial effort that would allow to create a proper education in the work world.
· Strengthening the policy of going into the work world in order to let almost the 50% of students to attend such programs.
· Shaping education with regards to the reality of work world, keeping at the same time the particularities of those subject not directly connected to business.
5. The enhancement of cultural education at European level:
· We propose major cultural institution and the academic world to get together in order to increase research at a European level and, at the same time, to give students the chance to benefit from an internship at a European cultural institution chosen by themselves.
· Short term mobility programs that make students enter the major cultural events in Europe and that contribute a strengthen a European identity thanks to culture.
6. The creation of a wide range of curricula offered by universities and “grandes écoles supérieures” at the same price of the starting education program:
· Fighting work abandonment and supporting professional development thanks to the creation of an exchange program and education programs certified at the same level of the starting education programs, open to people who search a job and to major European institution workers, and thanks to a new European loan for workers who study in European institutions.
· Fiscal facilitation tools that encourage enterprises to make their employees to attend these classes and subsidies for local temp agencies.
These proposals are the first step to give education its pivotal role again, which should have never stopped to have in the European society. Life-long, low cost education for every European citizen. Stand Up for Europe consider a complete access at the best education aimed at getting a qualification at a fair price to be a fundamental human right and must be a peculiarity in Europe. This must not be a national responsibility, instead, it must be put into a European policy in order to allow students to benefit from any study and education opportunity that the 28 member states offer. It is thanks to such opportunities that it will possible to offer to everyone another professional life, to optimize our chances to win unemployment and precariousness, to renew competitivity, to produce surplus value, to relieve the pressure on hiring halls their global impact on social security finances, and, finally, to find funds for retirements. Since education is not the only condition to improve citizens’ socio- economic situation in order to get out from job precariousness, nevertheless this is with no doubt the minimum requirement. This is the best way we have to improve major European schools, universitarian and para-universitarian institutions’ dynamism, resources, diversities, invention and connections. It is up to us find how to get much advantage from it, rebuilding it in the more intelligent way possible.
I. Achieved progresses
The EMU, and particularly the Eurozone, apparently functioned properly from 1999 to 2007. In fact, most of the problems still present in the Union were compensated by the common monetary policy.
The economic component includes two big instruments:
– The “Broad Economic Policy Guidelines” (Policies are still national competences) that aim to aim at coordinating the economic policies basing on recommendations,
– the budget discipline, which aims at controlling the budgetary policy of the member States in order to avoid excessive public deficits, through restrictions based on the Stability and Growth Pact.
In order to do so, the Eurozone is managed by specific bodies such as the Eurogroup and strengthened boundaries. However, the monetary funding of the public authority by the central banks and the financial assistance of the countries in trouble by European or national public authorities are forbidden.
The monetary component includes the implementation of the European System of Central Banks (ESBC) and the creation of the European Central Bank (ECB). The Eurozone is framed within the Eurosystem – formed by the ECB and the national central banks of the member States of the Eurozone – the place where the Council defines the common monetary policy of the single currency for the Eurozone, in particular its interest rates.
The crisis has shown the wideness of the gaps among member States, as well as the incompleteness of the whole system and the soft application of the adopted rules. The national and European authorities tried to overcome this situation through reforms.
Economically speaking, many reforms have been implemented:
· The creation of the “European semester”: meant to coordinate the budgetary, macroeconomic and structural policies, basing on the examinations of the Commission;
· The reinforcement of the budgetary discipline, through to adoption of the Six Pack and the Two Pack, that widen the performance indicators, increases the powers of surveillance and control of the Commission on national budgets and consolidate the repressive component of the Stability Pact.
· A new international agreement denominated Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Monetary Union (that has not been signed by the United Kingdom and Czech Republic) provides the reinforcement of the budgetary regulation, aimed to a budgetary balance based on the ‘golden rule’ – that is, state members must not have a structural deficit exceeding 0.5% of GDP.
· Support to disadvantaged countries has first been provided through bilateral agreements, then through the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and lastly through the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – created with an intergovernmental treaty.
With regard to the monetary policy, the European Central Bank has considerably softened its stance, aiming to have much more liquidity in the market, and it turned to ‘non-conventional’ measures for that, such as the repurchase of government bonds in the secondary market (Securities Market Programme -SMP, and the Outright Monetary Transactions program -OMT- not applied yet) and three-year credit operations to the banking system (Long Term Refinancing Operations – LTRO).
II. General deficiencies of these measures
The gravity of the situation was recognized too late has been too late and wimp, producing just progressive and shy reactions. It is necessary to acknowledge that these measures have come too slowly, after endless assemblies of the European Council, and that their range is limited (‘not enough, too late’.). The European Union has lost most of its credibility, both at the international level and within its borders. Despite the encouraging speeches and the apparent unanimity, the dissent between the members – particularly the German-French pair – has showed the EU’s structural weakness and lack of perspective. Therefore, which kind of Europe do we want? Does the financial accuracy, which is essential in the long run, have to be applied even with the risk of a social crumbling in some member states? In this case, again, what has to be blamed is a structural inability of the Council: it did not prove capable of extend the application of measures similar to the ones a state would adopt at a national level. In this way, the impact of international measures on political tendencies is being lost through a mass effect. As always, the whole is different from the sum of its parts.
This, of course, does not imply that the states are not allowed anymore to implement different economic policies, whereas it means that a set of economic tools on European must be given in order to help the nations to get better results in the attempt of lightening the weight of the crisis – which now it weighs mostly on the population. This goal is achievable through a better harmonization and coordination, alongside with a deeper sharing, which requires a greater federalization of jurisdiction and the transfer of the authority from the Council to a government and a bicameral federal Parliament.
From the economic point of view:
Thanks to a work of financial engineering, the differences between fiscal regimes allow big companies to benefit from advantages that are by contrast precluded to local companies, due to the exploitation of contradictions and incoherencies among the states.
Member states keep getting loans at high interest rates (higher than the ones asked to large economic powers), even though it would be possible to request and repay loans at a lower interest rate, gathering all our sovereign debts in a juridical and political entity like a federal Europe.
Every state keeps subsidizing its own jurisdictions without realizing that they would globally cost less if managed all together. An example is the maintenance of 28 armies and 28 diplomatic corps, which individually cannot compete, at the global scale, with the armed forces and diplomacies of large powers.
The absence of supranational European authorities prevents a significant reduction in the management costs of resources and energetic grid. Gathering them, nevertheless, would optimize the allocation of resources and stimulate joint research for new sustainable energy. Why should a country produce energy when it could more conveniently buy it from a neighbouring country – which, moreover, has a surplus of it?
The lack of coordination of industrial policies is at the base of a huge waste of energy and means, in a situation, additionally, where each isolated actor is unable to compete with its extra-European counterparts.
From the monetary point of view:
Certainly, the single currency area cannot be considered as an optimal monetary area according to the economic theory. Furthermore, the Euro group is de facto an informal group, while formal decisions are taken by the ECOFIN Council, which indistinctively consists of Eurozone members and nonmembers. This makes the decisional process heavier and more complicated, in a reality which, instead, requires rapid decision and good adaptability.
III. What are our proposals?
The most realistic solution regarding economic and monetary plans is moving the competence currently held by single states towards a federalization and thus to the European Council. This transfer in the direction of a real European government, led by a European President democratically elected by citizens, and supported by a parliamentary majority and responsible for the Parliament, is explained in detail in our dossier about the reform of political institutions. Vested of the democratic consent, this government will lead a single and namely European policy, offering much more coherence in economy as well as the necessary authority to regulate financial markets and reinforce the position of the Euro – provided with a territory governed by only one complete decisional body with its own juridical and political reality.
That is the only credible alternative on the long run which is able to fill the gaps we have detected, which can be said to be caused by the inability of the member states to complete the European construction. Although problems tend to arise within nations, they affect Europe as well and, since a supranational policy able to solve them does not exist, solutions come from the Council and not from the Commission. The transition from the intergovernmental to the supranational, with these measures, is the conditio sine qua non for responding efficiently to an economically globalized word.
From an economic point of view:
National tax systems harmonization.
Once the mutualization of sovereign debt will be taken in charge by a federal Europe, it will cause the decrease of the interest rates our countries pay to refund their sovereign debts (see founding statement). The geographical, political and economic anchorage of the Euro to a federal and supportive entity will protect the weak members of the Union from speculation and will dramatically lower the country risk premium for each European country average risk premium.
This premium is high currently because the lack of political unity makes the markets doubt of the actual sustainability of the European currency. The average interest rate which the 28 countries of the European Union borrow money separately at is higher than the United States’, even though their debt is higher than the one European countries have accumulated (103,6% of GDP for USA compared to 86,6% of GDP for European countries), or for Japan, even though its debt is largely higher (245% of its GDP). According to the European Economic and Social Committee, decreasing the country risk premium would allow to save 56 billion of euros thanks to the mutualization of sovereign debts in 2014 alone.
The mergers of the current 28 diplomatic services in a single corp, of the 28 armies in a single army, renouncing to these kind of excesses in responsibilities will make us save huge amount of money, thus letting us finance a new political path diametrically opposite to the current austerity logic.
It is clear that a rigorous policy will still be necessary, but it will be possible to focus more on society and on actions that can widely support growth and investments in education, in research and development, in the creation of big European industries able to compete with extra-European competitors, in an efficient and less expensive European foreign policy. In a nutshell, our aim is to make our European intelligences and talents release their potential (the various fields of application of these policies are described in our other documents).
The federalization will also give more importance to social indicators, in order to avoid the drift towards populism and Euroscepticism generated by programs too focused on rigor and on reestablishing macroeconomic balances in a short time. The future of European democracy is at stake.
We emphasize also that the ECB should be able to exercise fully its role of lender of last resort, which is the very essence of a central bank. To do this, it should be able to buy, like the US Federal Reserve, the primary and secondary public debt, and even some private securities.
From the monetary point of view:
To consolidate the euro, we should bound this currency to a political and geographical unified space, which has intervention and regulatory powers within a single structure of decision. The geographical framework already exists: The Eurogroup. At the moment, it is composed of 18 countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Spain. But this group has only an informal legal status. Therefore, it lacks a real political role. This is what our project for a federal Europe is about: one currency for one political entity, as it happens in every country. Only when equipped with a single decision-making center, embodied by the European government that we propose, the euro will then have a solid foundation. If, to this end, the federal experience made a new start with less than the 28 countries that make up the current union, it would not be a problem in our opinion. We think, in fact, that the knock-on effect caused by the deep reforms to the federal structure will gradually draw consensus, as in the case of the creation of the European Union, which began with just six countries and that has not ceased to grow in number since then.
Finally, we stress that for this to work, the Federal Europe needs a more ambitious budget. Currently, the Union’s total budget represents the 1% of the European GDP and the 40% of it is reserved to the common agricultural policy (CAP). In order to ensure the existence of a political Europe and its effectiveness, the European budget should be between 15% and 20% of the European GDP and it should be funded by a direct European taxation. Our idea of a monetary and economic refoundation is based on the framework of a comprehensive policy designed to reconcile the economy and the European currency with reality, giving back to European citizens the right to decide their own destiny. The federalization is not the antithesis of national interest. On the contrary, national interests could be better defended by the integration of a joint decision-making system. Acting as one body that looks to the future but has its roots in our common history, our project will become a workable project that maximizes the opportunity to bring Europe back to the path of social progress, individual freedom, competitiveness and collective solidarity.
Our Support Commitee
The following members of civil society are part of the Support Committee for Stand Up for the United States of Europe.
Former director of the GDF SUEZ Group, Former Belgian Champion and Team Leader at the Horse Trials
Founder and President of the Consultative Committee of European Affaires of Ixelles
Commander of the Detachment of the Military Police at the Parliaments of Wallonia and the French Community
Honorary Director General of the European Investment Bank and Secretary General of the European Long-Term Investors association – ELTI and of the Long-Term Investors Club – LTIC
Director General and Art director of the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Brussels
Founder at Filigranes libraries
Member of the Orientation Council at the Institute of Thomas More and retired Director of Service of ‘Financial Operations at the European Commission
Political scientist (Oxford University – S. Antonio Collegio and Free University of Brussels – Political Theory Center)
Avocat honoraire – Conseiller suppléant à la Cour d’appel de Bruxelles – Fondateur Optimistan
Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors of KBC, President of the Fonds Baillet Latour, President of the Queen Elisabeth Competition
Italian politician and economist
enterprise examiner and accountability expert
Special Adviser European Commission
Director of the Communication and the external relationships at L’OBS (Groupe Le Monde)
Expert évaluation enseignement supérieur chez Hau Conseil evaluation Enseignement supérieur et Recherche (france)
Honorary Member of the European Parliament
Lawyer specialized in banking and finances
Administrator and Intendent of business coalitions
Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and President of the Institut d’Etudes européennes
Honorary European deputy
Senior Banker at the European Bank, teaches “Infrastructure Finance” at SciencesPo Paris.
Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Belgium
Lecturer at Université libre de Bruxelles
French politician and Member of the European Parliament
Co Founder at Luntfoundation
Owner, Pierre Marcolini chocolatier
TPF Group’s CEO
EU Key Account Manager atCOWI Group
Belgian politician and ex Member of the European Parliament
President and Founder of Confrontations Europe
Journalist, Director of External Relation for Italian Antitrust Authority, La Nuova Europa Founder
Advisor and teacher in EU diplomacy, Russia, North Africa, Middle East
CEO at Sodexo (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
Art historian and curator
Writer, Visiting scholar at Université Saint Louis and ICHEC, honorary adviser to the European Commission
President – Founder of Pairi Daiza
Manager of the year, PDG of Artexis
Director General Deciders/Decitime
Philosopher, emeritus Professor at Université Libre Bruxelles and at the Collège d’Europe (Bruges)
Director of the Goethe Institute
President of the Foundation “Ceci n est pas une crise”
Directeur de Recherche au CNRS
French politician and Member of the European Parliament
Social Entrepreneur, expert gender equality at work, owner of JUMP “Promoting gender equality, advancing the economy”
Private banking officer chez CBC Banque
Commercial Officer, Europe, Key Accounts at GE Marine
Former Belgian Ambassador in Lithuania
Owner: Studio Lafontaine
Former member at cercle de Lorraine and member at cercle de Wallonie
International President of the European Economic Cooperation committee
Director General and President of the Executive Committee of the Delhaize Group, President of the Interfédéral Belgian Olympic Committee (COIB) and member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Doctor in Applied Economics
Director General of the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie
State Minister, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-President of the Belgian political party Mouvement Réformateur
Honorary President of the king Baudouin Foundation, President and co-founder of Inter-Environment
Minister of State
Author, composer, interpreter
Honorary Senator, retired Minister, writer
Lawyer at the Bars of Brussels and Paris, expert of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), lecturer at Science-Po Paris (course of European economic Law)
Professor at Luxembourg School of Finance
Belgian politician and Co-president of the Greens/ALE MEP
Consultant Member of the International Business Commission at the “Association Française du Lipizzan”
Co-founder & CEO Argile Peinture
Co-President at Société européenne de défense (S€D) AISBL
Belgian French-speaking writer and lawyer
European Parliament member
Belgian politician and a Member of the European Parliament