Friday, December 8, 2017

The United States of Europe

“Let us create a new and better Europe! I want a new constitutional treaty to establish the United States of Europe. A Europe that is no threat to its member states, but a beneficial addition.

A convention shall draft this treaty in close cooperation with the civil society and the people. Its results will then be submitted to all member states. Any state that won’t ratify this treaty will automatically leave the EU.”

German Socialist leader and former European Parliament President Martin Schulz yesterday posted the above comment on his official Facebook page. Given a number of current issues currently dominating both the local and international scene I don’t expect this post by Mr. Schulz to gain much public attention. On a global level issues such as the status of Jerusalem and Brexit negotiations will definitely continue to dominate whilst on a local level, issues such as the ongoing investigations and legal proceedings regarding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia will continue to dominate the scene. That having been said Mr. Schulz’s post deserves some thinking. 

The proposal to have a United States of Europe is neither new nor innovative. Suffice to say that the subject has been debated from well before the European Union itself ever came to fruition. On that front thus Mr. Schulz’s proposal for a United States of Europe can only best be described as a regurgitation of an age old debate which tends to resurface from time to time. 

The idea is also not too innovative in terms of the convention drafting a treaty and submitting the said treaty to all member states. In the history of the European Union 2004 is remembered as the year when the spotlight went on the ‘Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe’. The treaty, commonly referred to as the European Constitution, had been met with skepticism in a number of member states from day one. Ultimately the process ground to a halt following referenda in France and Holland where the No vote emerged victorious. 

The propose the same idea, all be it in an even sharper form, after just ten years would normally perhaps be described as risky. To do so in a context where Euro skepticism is sadly on the rise and where the European Union is having to deal with its first member state exit can only be described as being out of touch with reality. To further propose a take it or leave it approach where those not in agreement are simply chucked out the club is nothing short of absolute arrogance. 

Mr. Schulz’s proposal shall only serve to add fuel to the fire in terms of the fertile ground being used by Euro-skeptics to drum up all sorts of horror stories about the EU. Rather than looking to forge ahead with the idea of changing what is essentially a union of sovereign national states into a federal state, the more prudent approach would be to first see to it that the citizens of the said national states are convinced that we should be in a union to begin with. 
The biggest threat to European integration is the sharp rise of Euro-skepticism. Euro-skepticism will not be defeated by acting in the manner it so colorfully criticizes; the bulldozer approach where the bureaucrat holds little regard for the general public opinion. Euro-skepticism will be defeated by taking notes with regards to any constructive criticism it has to offer, limited as it may be, and building on that constructive criticism to demonstrate that European integration is in the best interest of every European. 

Mr. Schulz’s proposal thus at this stage is at best premature and ill-thought and at worst undemocratic, arrogant and completely out of touch with reality.

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