Note: The original of this article was published on May 9th, 2012.
At the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of the Schuman declaration (9 May 1950) and on Europe’s Day, we, European federalists, wish to explain our position.
As a preliminary remark, we point out that a federal Europe would not be a centralised Europe in Brussels. Did Bavaria disappear in Germany? Is California weak within the United States? Of course not! And in Europe too, Member States would not disappear. The aim is to benefit from the political, economical and social advantages of a deeper integration, while respecting diversity and the principle of subsidiarity – each policy must be determined and implemented at the most suitable level: European, national or local.
1. A federal Europe is a peaceful area. The European project wanted by the founding Fathers (R. Schuman, K. Adenauer, J. Monnet, A. de Gasperi and others) aimed at bringing back a lasting peace to Europe, particularly by reconciling and bringing closer the two “feuding brothers” of the continent: Germany and France. 67 years after the end of World War II, we see that it was a successful initiative. Western Europe has experienced an unprecedented period of peace!
2. A federal Europe is democratic. In 1979, the European Parliament (EP) was elected for the first time directly by the European citizens (at universal suffrage). This conferred him an incomparable democratic legitimacy. Over the years, several reforms were adopted, enhancing the Parliament’s powers. Deepening the European integration is strengthening the EP, it is more implicating the citizens in the European construction through various processes such as the European Citizen Initiative (ECI), and it is going towards the (direct or indirect) election of the President of the Commission and / or EU Council by us, the citizens.
3. A federal Europe supports freedom. Today, thanks to the EU, we, European citizens, can move freely in most Member States (those within the Schengen area). We can visit some friends abroad, buy goods and services on the other side of the border, work or study in another MemberState without queuing during hours at the border. The internal market and the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) are among our most precious gains.
4. A federal Europe show solidarity. Robert Schuman wanted to create a united Europe based on de facto solidarity, which led to the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) in 1951 and then to the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1957. Today, solidarity among Member States is still needed in order to tackle the crisis. This “entitlement to solidarity” goes of course with duties. So, we must deepen the European integration to ensure the respect of the commitments taken by Member States benefiting of the European solidarity. In return, an important federal budget (potentially partly financed by Eurobonds) could finance investments in the future and contribute to mitigate the effects of the crisis in some areas.
5. A federal Europe is a strong Europe in a changing world. Until 1990, there were two super powers: the US and the USSR. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, only one remained: the United States. Today, several poles are developing: Brazil, China, Russia, India, South Africa and Turkey are as many regional leaders with global aspirations. If we want our voice to be heard in tomorrow’s world, next the US, Japan and the emerging powers, we must unite more closely to protect our interests. The EU is one of the most important global commercial and agricultural powers, it is a leader in development aid, etc.; now, it is necessary to transform this economic power in a political one.
6. A federal Europe respects diversity. A federal Europe would not be centralized in Brussels, on the contrary. The EU motto is “United in diversity”. Europe’s linguistic, historical and cultural diversity is a common treasury and contributes to the European influence abroad. The EU also favours the protection of local traditions and traditional knowledge. It also encourages the political role of infra-national levels (regions, cities, etc.), e.g. thanks to the Committee of Regions or regional development funds.
7. A federal Europe is the accomplishment of the European project. Robert Schuman said that the integration would not happen suddenly, nor in a global construction, but through the concrete achievements. It is in this spirit that the European integration has been deepened for the last 55 years (the Rome Treaties were signed on March 25th, 1957), despite of several crisis that only strengthened it. For this reason, today, amid the national debt crisis, we reaffirm our confidence in Europe to succeed, once more, in getting out of the crisis stronger and more integrated than before. Strengthening the economic coordination, as happened during the last few months, seems essential to us. We must carry on reforming, because we are convinced that the EU will owe a longer life to a deeper integration.