Federal Europe: utopia or real vision?

Among peoples who are geographically grouped together like the peoples of Europe there must exist a sort of federal link. It is this link which I wish to endeavour to establish’ is a famous statement of Aristide Briand, Prime Minister of France during the French Third Re- public and co-laureate of the 1926 Nobel Peace Prize. Even though nearly a century has lapsed since then, we have to say that this quote is still very current despite the relatively successful integration process on the old continent over the last sixty years.

It now raises several questions in my mind. What does this federalisation stand for? Can we describe the current model of the functioning of the European Union as the United States of Europe? And do we actually need it? European integra- tion has apparently made great progress since the 1950s. It is also an incontestable fact that former economic cooperation amongst the founding members of the European Community has moved further and further from the concept of simple inter-governmentalism towards a supranational system of governance with some significant features of federalized structure. Notably, new federal as well as intergovernmental elements were introduced by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. It makes the definition of the European Union even more difficult. Therefore, it is better to say that the EU in 2015 operates more like a very complicated hybrid framework rather than any kind of standard international organisation or federal state as we know in the United States of America.

Nevertheless, I ask myself whether this structure and functioning of the European family is enough, or if we should ask for even more integration, in particular in the field of foreign affairs, fiscal matters and defence policy. It is obvious to me that the architecture of the European Union has already failed to serve its goals and challenges

of today ́s world. Since 2008, the Union staggers from one crisis to another without knowing how to face them adequately. Each of these crises, indebtedness in Greece, the conflict in Ukraine, the diplomatic confrontation with Russia, the refugee crises, clearly show that national states are no longer able to solve neither local nor global problems independently.

Instead of having united Europe as a strong stakeholder on international scene, the European Union remains a chaotic grouping of twenty-eight states. The Union lacks the necessary powers and globally respected institutions. I am personally persuaded that the European Union as we know it will soon cease to exist. The only question is whether the gradual disintegration and secession of several European countries will follow, or whether European leaders will be able to overcome the fear of change and drive integration for- ward into a genuine political union.

A federal structure of the European Union is in the interest of both European citizens and of nation- states in Europe. Basically, it would strengthen the powers of EU Member States, democracy in the European Union and it would also make the European Union a stronger and more united entity that would be able to face global challenges and threats in the coming decades. A federal Europe is a prerequisite for maintaining social security for European citizens, boosting the economy and creating new job opportunities for sustainable economic growth and development.

Therefore, the common success of Europeans in this globalized world depends on how quickly they can unite. A united Europe can better enforce its interests and protect common values. Let us fight jointly for this purpose in forthcoming years!

Norbert KUCHARIK

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