The United States of Europe
For the future of Europe is no longer that of yesterday
A man came upon a construction site where three people were working and asked the first, “What are you doing?”and the man replied “Earning a living”.
Then, the man asked the second workman the same question. The worker replied: “I am cutting stones”. Finally, the man repeated the question to the third worker.. The third worker replied “I am building a cathedral.”
Europe of yesterday
Some 80 years ago, in 1938, France and the UK betrayed democratic values by signing a treaty with Germany and fascist Italy, accepting the death of a third State. Recognizing German sovereignty over Sudetenland, the two allied democracies sacrificed the integrity of Czechoslovakia. We know Winston Churchill’s famous words: “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war”. It’s probably no coincidence that the British Prime Minister was, after the war, one of Europe’s most ardent defenders, just like another of Europe’s eminent founding fathers, Altiero Spinelli. We fit into the federalist tradition that is the basis of the European project that some viewed for a long time as a utopia or an incongruity. Now, it is self-evident.
A large federation of European states, similar to the United States of America would have been impossible right after WWII. With WWII’s hostilities still fresh, an ambitious project might even have frustrated any attempt of reconciliation between the European nations. Moreover, most politicians as well as the public opinion were very attached to their own national sovereignty. The European project was and is being built by taking small steps so that the bonds of brotherhood between countries which had fought for centuries could be firmly knotted, with the purpose to never hear the sound of explosions and boots resonating on the European continent again; to prevent dictatorships from endangering the European democracy; to prevent neighbouring countries from entering into a bloody war. The discrimination of a minority will no longer be legitimized by a totalitarian and murderous regime. The concept of race will finally be banished from the continent. The human species will celebrate in its ethnic, linguistic, religious, philosophical and cultural freedom.
The first steps towards the European project were taken on 9 May 1950 by Robert Schuman. Inspired by Jean Monnet, the Schuman Declaration mentions: “By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and the countries joining it, this proposal will achieve the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.”. The Treaty of Paris (1951) resulted in the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and was signed by three of the four states that signed the treaty of Munich in 1938. The Treaty of Rome (1957) let to the creation of the European Economic Community.
A successful model, as yet unfinished
This model of economic and monetary union and political coordination was strengthened by the Treaties of Maastricht (1992) and Lisbon (2009) and founded the European Union. Member states saw economic growth and a significant increase in purchasing power as well as a long period of prosperity. But it also brought an increasing sense of a mutual European destiny whilst simultaneously preserving each member’s common cultural heritage and identity. It is significant to note that since its creation, the European family has continued to expand, rising from 6 to 55 members in 2017..
The value and impact of a united Europe (EU) has changed considerably in a world of increasing globalization. An even higher level of federalization would serve the interests of each of the individual EU states even better. Indeed, the governance structure of a system with 6, 12 or even 15 components is not the same as a political space that includes 28, and maybe more in coming years. The profound changes experienced by the world since the creation of the EU in 1951 have also changed the nature of the political balance of power, as did economic, social and cultural development between Europe and the rest of the world. The United States and upcoming countries like China, Japan, India and Brazil, are now major economic and political powers. They structurally modified international trade, social behavior, consumer movements, a trend that will only increase in the decades to come. This leaves the EU no choice but to keep reforming, not only to shoulder a changing outside world but especially to strengthen our internal identity. The conclusion is obvious: to keep the future into our own hands we must join forces, and together achieve what any independent European state could not do on its own.
Europe, a chance …
Europe has invaluable assets based on a deep convergence of values in our respective cultures. Our culture is rich and varied, the result of interaction of millennia. Rome was inspired by Athens to develop its own culture, Christianity comes from Judaism, migrations introduced new habits, the Flemish and Dutch painters enriched their art from contact with Venice, Florence or Siena… We could add more examples but that would only lead to the same conclusion: what unites us is infinitely greater than what divides us, and each variant is an opportunity to grow.
This inter-pollination of cultures, art, customs, and more has created diversity among our peoples, and yet also highlights the constants we believe are our Europeans values and are our foundation, firmly rooted in the continent and the basis for our future. This rich and very real cultural soil unites us and must now grow into a federal Europe. It will not be the end of the States, which will continue to exercise their sovereignty, guaranteed by the principle of subsidiarity. On the contrary, all citizens will benefit from a coherent policy financed by pooling our collective resources. Together we can build a safer society through a real common project for the future, that will define our identity and guarantee our place in the world.
What Europe specifically?
The values on which the Union of Europeans is based are set out in Article I-2 of the Treaty of Lisbon: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect for human rights, in particular those of minorities. As a result, the principles that make up the Union are pluralism, nondiscrimination, tolerance and justice. Europe is called upon to be united in its diversity, taking advantage of the latter as a cultural and social wealth. For this reason, the EU must hold intercultural dialogue while at the same time respect the cultural differences of the citizens and States of Europe.
Therefore, the Europe we want reflects what transcends our differences and brings us together as Europeans. We want a Europe of solidarity, a secular Europe (with neutral and free-from-prejudice institutions, that are essential to allow an impartial respect for religious or philosophical identities), a plural Europe, a political Europe based on participatory democracy and an entrepreneurial Europe. In short, a Europe that attend to the needs of its citizens and foster prosperity.
- A social Europe of solidarity: unwavering solidarity is a fundamental value of the federal Europe we want to build. The interdependence of our economies, our cultural and geographical proximity and the impact of the situation of each of the EU states on the other leave no option other than solidarity. In the current institutional configuration and in the world that awaits us, this solidarity must be stronger than ever. Similarly, solidarity between citizens must also prevail.The search for a progressive tax policy, that can both help to secure the financing of our social protection models and pursue corrective redistributive policies, remains a priority for which only a federal Europe can give real long-term guarantees. Furthermore, there must also be solidarity between the European Federation itself and all of its citizens. In fact, political space is primarily intended to offer its citizens the best possible framework for their welfare. Subsequently, this Europe must feel his fate inextricably linked to and conditioned by its citizens. Europe must have a social pillar meant to set a number of rules throughout its territory aimed at ensuring decent living conditions for all citizens (minimum wage, fight against poverty, equality between men and women, access to healthcare for all, integration of disabled people, portability of rights, etc.). A politically broken or weak Europe cannot secure such a solidarity mechanism.
- A secular Europe: the wars of religion that devastated our continent were stopped only by the process of secularization and the separation of religion from the institutional apparatus of the State. With this in mind, we must ensure the neutrality of the United States of Europe while fostering plurality. Therefore, Reason must guide the law-making process, in order to ensure the transmission of European values without prejudice.
- A plural Europe: the continent has always been animated by different traditions, philosophies, languages and multiple religions that developed over the centuries and influenced each other. The European identity is therefore the connection of a remarkable variety of other identities, that mutually influenced each other and that are based upon a common denominator. The construction of the United States of Europe will not try to erase them but it would rather bring them more in resonance with each other and give them a common destination.
- An entrepreneurial Europe: The United States of Europe must also preserve, defend, organize and stimulate economic initiative, dynamism and synergies between the major European excellences. They would also be encharged with the valorization of the European added value in the world and the empowerment and protection of the citizens in the economic field.
- A political Europe capable of representing the European political identity and will. That is to say, an executive led by a President that exercises power through a parliamentary majority whom he or she would be accountable to.The President would be elected by all Europeans through a two-rounds majority vote, one cast by the citizens and the other cast by the Member States. The votes would be held over the draft policy of the candidates. A new European Constitution would outline a bicameral Parliament composed of a Lower House of Representatives, representing the collective European interests, and a Upper House, entitled to speak for the interests of each Member State. This political side of Europe would be represented by the President and it would legitimately enact European identity in the fields of defense, diplomacy, money, research, domestic security, environment, energy policy, trade, agricultural policy, immigration policy, the regulation of globalization, the defense of social rights….
The Europe that we present and demand is not only a desirable project because of the values it embodies, in fact it is in our view the only viable option that can maximize our chances of halting the European decline that everyone can see. Our Europe rests on two pillars: the rule of law and a social market economy that encourages regulated competition and safeguard cohesion and social equity
A system that puts the citizen at the heart of the European project
It seems clear that the answers that the European model has produced are not going in the right direction because it is outdated and is part of a representation of the international economy which no longer corresponds to reality. Under the current organization of Europe, we continue to impose austerity plans which weigh heavier to already troubled countries, under the pretext that the model requires it. Those increasingly radical measures led the states concerned to gradually but severely cut the fat. As a result, living conditions are becoming increasingly precarious; there is a growing contempt of Europe, as it is more and more perceived as indifferent to people’s happiness; a wide desperation is spreading across some areas of the continent. Moreover, these austerity measures are inadequate as they limit themselves to a strictly financial reading of the problems each state has when the problem is primarily structural and global. Consequently, they prove to be at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive:
- deficits are widening rather they resorb
- youth unemployment explodes
- living conditions deteriorate even further
- extremism thrive and try to propose solutions either demagogic isolationism and hatred of others is ideological retreat by reviving the hackneyed clichés of the class struggle
- Moreover, they promote the growth of differences:
- rich and poor within the same country
- North rich and poor southern countries
We can already see the effects of this rampant distortion in the resurgence of stereotyping striking Germans, suspected of trying to impose their domination, or the Greeks, accused of profiteering. Moreover, it is completely unrealistic to think that the North, if nothing changes in the current configuration of political and economic Europe escape the devastating effects that the crisis has caused the South. Also if the French economy had to bend permanently, the Franco-German axis would be significantly weakened as it is based on two equally important pillars.If the disparities were becoming too strong, there is risk that the Franco-German couple into a crisis similar to that in Belgium there helplessly assistant to the aggravation of a fracture growing between a prosperous Flanders and a Wallonia behind. The weakening of the Franco-German couple would have dramatic consequences for European construction, and for several reasons. On one hand, this is one of its major historical axes, dating back to Charles de Gaulle-Adenauer torque, “founded” with German Chancellor trip in France on September 14, 1958. The major pairs will continue to Moreover, Helmut Schmidt, Valery Giscard d’Estaing and François Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel. It is significant that most of the time, leaders of each state was a political color opposite to that of their counterparts, which prevented them not to continue and deepen their rapprochement, further evidence, if any, of the importance of this axis of convergence has consistently had the eyes of its protagonists. Moreover, this new synergy between the two states is no real precedent in their history, often confrontational. If France could not maintain a level of political and economic power to that of its neighbor, the fault line that separated the Germanic world of the Latin world might occur again and we would see France join the group southern Latin countries lagging behind, while the northern countries with successful economies, would gather around Germany. This increased imbalance would deal a blow, if not fatal, to the European solidarity segmentation “paying group” and “assisted group” awaken the old atavism, permanently sealing the fate of Europe.
Believe that Northern countries could better survive by cutting from the South over, we said, of illusion. Germany, for example, is the country that has benefited most from the single market to export its products, and the disappearance, even partial, of this market would have very serious economic consequences for it. Our economies are too interdependent to a breakup of the Union to generate beneficial effects for its only the healthiest members. Let us recall, as highlighted Eurostat for 2011: “The trade in goods between EU Member States (intra-EU trade) were evaluated from the perspective of shipments, to (…) nearly twice the level of exports from the EU-27 to third countries (extra-EU trade). The fact that the intra-EU goods trade was higher than the extra-EU trade in each of the Member States, except the UK, demonstrates the importance of the EU’s internal market. ” As detailed in the table below:i style=”font-weight: 400;”>deficits are growing bigger rather than becoming smaller
- youth unemployment explodes
- living conditions deteriorate even further
- extremism thrives and tries to propose solutions, being demagogic isolationism and hatred of others and an ideological retreat by reviving the hackneyed clichés of the class struggle
- Moreover, they promote the growth of differences: Rich and poor within the same country:
Rich and poor within the same country, Rich Northern and poor Southern countries
We can already see the effects of this rampant distortion in the resurgence of stereotyping striking Germans, suspected of trying to impose their domination, or the Greeks, accused of profiteering. Moreover, it is completely unrealistic to think that the North, if nothing changes in the current configuration of political and economic Europe, can escape the devastating effects that the crisis has caused in the South. Also, if the French economy had to bend permanently, the Franco-German axis would be significantly weakened as it is based on two equally important pillars. If the disparities between France and Germany were to increase further, the riso la a situation similar to the current status quo in Belgium: a growing fracture between the prosperous Flanders and the neighbouring Wallonia. The weakening of the Franco-German couple would have dramatic consequences for the European construction for several reasons: On the one hand, this is one of its major historical axes, dating back to the trip of the German Chancellor Adenauer to De Gaulle’s France on September 14, 1958. Similarly, other major historic pairs were Helmut Schmidt and Valery Giscard d’Estaing, François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. it is striking that in most of these cases the leader of one state had a significantly different political disposition as opposed to his or her counterpart, which prevented them from creating deeper and stronger relations. On the other hand, this synergy has precedent in history as Franco-German relations have always been confrontational. The risk is that if France was not able to maintain an economic and political level of power similar to that of Germany, then France would join the group of Southern countries lagging behind, while the Northern countries would gather around Germany. In this way, the line that once separated the Latin world from the Germanic one would reappear. European solidarity would then be perceived as the relationship between a “paying group” and an “assisted group” and they would be treated as such.
The idea that Northern countries would be better off without the South is an illusion. Germany, for example, is the country that benefited most from the single market to export its products and the disappearance, even partial disappearance, of this market would have very serious economic consequences for the country. Our economies are now too interdependent to benefit from a breakup of the European Union and as Eurostat highlighted in 2011: “The trade in goods between EU Member States (intra-EU trade) were evaluated from the perspective of shipments, to (…) nearly twice the level of exports from the EU-27 to third countries (extra-EU trade). The fact that the intra-EU goods trade were higher than the extra-EU trade in each of the Member States, except the UK, demonstrates the importance of the EU’s internal market.” This is detailed in the tables below:
It therefore seems clear that the economic condition of the European states as a whole is decisive for each one of them. Besides the fact that geographical proximity, development axes, commercial traffic and the stability of the region are major assets that promote trade and partially minimize costs, they represent a considerable advantage for the producers and the European consumers alike.
The new European bulwark against austerity
The main fiscal policy that has been pursued by many European countries and which is often promoted by the main monetary institutions, including the European Central Bank (ECB), is that of austerity – the cutting down in public services expenditure. But there exists an alternative. The construction of the United States of Europe would make economical sense by incorporating the monetary system and the fiscal system together, instead of having one (common currency) without a common fiscal framework. Additionally, instead of spending a significant part of the budget on the bureaucracy of 28 member states, a single united federation would drastically reduce unnecessary expenditures. In 1986, the Ceccheti report estimated that the removal of national barriers to intra-Community trade between the then 12 member countries would generate a financial gain oscillating between 4.5% and 7% of the sum of cumulative GDP of the EU 12 and the creation of 2 to 5 million jobs. Certainly, much progress has since been made through the reforms of the common market but significant improvements are still required to harmonize the European tax and welfare systems, which would prove beneficial for businesses, who would cease to relocate their operations abroad where social and labor costs are lower. The levels of tax are also taken advantage of by big corporations as each member state competes to be the nation with the lowest corporation tax. Corporations, such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook manage to avoid paying any taxes at all legally exploiting the differences in tax legislation among member countries.
A federal Europe would also allow a common framework to be developed for each department common to all member states (education, healthcare, energy, trade, welfare, youth programs, sustainable development etc..). A united Europe would have a single and more efficient army, a shared debt, a single police force instead of 28 different ones, which would reduce any redundancies and inefficiencies. Many models suggest such policies would reduce annual expenditure by up to 20% of current levels of spending. As a whole, the debt to GDP ratio for European economies is lower than that of the USA, averaging out at 86.8% of GDP, compared to the USA levels of 103.6% of GDP and Japan’s 245% of GDP. The lowering of risk premiums would, according to the EESC, could save up to 56 billion Euros per year. If this was extrapolated to other sectors of the economy, it is possible to argue, that substantial savings could be made, which would boost the abilities of Europe to stimulate growth and boost the economy, thus avoiding the vicious cycle of Austerity and providing a very tangible alternative to cutting public services to afford debt obligations. These savings could indeed be used in many areas to achieve better results including the following examples:
- To invest in a comprehensive policy to promote a European identity and a sense of belonging. .
- To help southern Europe more effectively. Of course, this assistance would be accompanied by a reorganization plan stipulating the establishment of more stringent fiscal policies but it would avoid their citizens to be heavily hit by austerity plans as painful as it is ineffective.
- To reduce the deficit many european economies and cost of interest rates.
- To launch major European incentives to promote the growth of industry and to help to become a leader on the world market and increase employment.It is therefore necessary to invest in all areas of the economy, such as biotechnology, environment, alternative energy, digital, etc., to acheive world dominance in all these areas and provide the ability for innovation and technical expertise to flourish.
- To launch ambitious research programmes by investing in centres of excellence and providing universities, and independent researchers funding capabilities.
- To boost the quality of education by introducing new subjects to be taken at the primary level, such as a second european language, european history, european culture and a course on the integration of europe and the development of a sense of identity.
- To promote and extend the Erasmus exchange programme, which account for only 4% of european students, as well as similar voluntary transfers in the context of training courses, careers, etc.
- To modernize and secure the financing of our welfare model
- To constitute a genuine common policy in the field of internal security: network security, protection of privacy, immigration policy.
A Historical perspective
If today there is a broad intellectual and political consensus on the common values of Europe, the completion of European integration is still facing fierce resistance. This can be explained by the confronting legitimate forces; the interests of the states that make up Europe, who remain the main actors of the construction of Europe and the general European political and social atmosphere. It is understandable, for historical reasons and the need to create one’s identity, that such legitimate concerns could exist. However, this is undermined by globalization, which seeks to create a “global village”, where it is possible to feel like a citizen of anywhere. A significant advantage of uniting Europe is that it allows the pooling of resources and allows for nations to share and compete for knowledge, trade, and resources that ultimately strengthens the social and economic fabric of societies benefiting from their nation’s role within the Union. This could potentially pave the way to a federal Europe, with a functional political system, a fully integrated economy, a social framework and with a culturally defined value system providing the basis of a fully integrated European state. The United States of Europe is necessary, because the European people share a common socio-economic interest that justifies its construction. It allows for a sense of community, that nation states are no longer able to deliver. Additionally, in an ever-growing globalized world, which seeks to make it easier for Humanity to connect with itself, it no longer makes sense to build a sense of identity around a common adjective , rather a common Humanity. Certainly the creation of the United States of Europe is required for all the aforementioned reasons, but it is first and foremost necessary, because it addresses the need to create a collective identity forged from a shared history. It is also necessary, because it is the conclusion of a process that began a long time ago and can be achieved peacefully and benefits, not just the few, but everyone. It is essential, because it responds to a shared history, that it is our duty to testify and be the witnesses. Thus breaks the vicious circle of violence and political turmoil that have scarred Europe’s past and provides an example, that testifies that it is indeed possible to unite a people without bloodshed. A federal Europe would finally allow for all states to enter a “virtuous cycle” : Europe would see a gradual, but substantial improvement of their living conditions. This would require the creation of a general sense of belonging and allow a common european identity to be forged, whilst enabling collective project management and technical innovation, allowing it to maintain its prestige on the world stage and become a dominant player in technology, science, culture, as well as a being the keyholders to the biggest trade market in the World. With this increase in power and dominance, Europe will no doubt become the beacon for intellectuals and professionals seeking to expand the human consciousness and will enable future generations of Europe to benefit from their expertise. It is indeed clear that the current trend of decline is not inevitable, it is the result of policies that are no longer suited in the current geopolitical climate. The European principles are aimed to bolster Europe’s standing on the World stage and through its strength, be able to drive not only the Continent but the whole world to a more innovative, peaceful and strengthened future. For this to transpire, it is vital to reinvent a European strategy for the Youth of Europe. It is indeed, in the federal Europe’s interest to shape and define their lives in areas of education, employment, social inclusion, and health. In order to achieve this objective, an overhaul of the current EU strategy is required to strengthen its credibility and its position on the World Stage. This is one of the many reasons, why it is necessary for the Youth to become politically engaged and vocal about their desires and vision for what Europe is for them. It is important for the future Europeans to realize their own importance and how their actions can contribute to the “European Dream”. Europe has the World’s largest economy, a population of 500 million people, many highly reputed educational systems, a common set of values, unique treasures and so much more…The list above is not exhaustive, but it illustrates how Europe can become a leader in its own right and how it deserves our support and trust in its institutions and programs. Support Europe. Take Action. Voice yourself. Unite.