Why is cooperation within the European Union so difficult?
What are the political-philosophical foundations of federalization?
Can we learn from the constitutional and institutional structure of America?
What is the difference between a treaty and a constitution?
In the European Union the concept of (more) ‘European Integration’ means that the member states are forced, gradually, to look alike. In the United States of Europe the concept of ‘integration’ plays a role only on the level of the federal authority: taking care of communal interests and concerns.
The intergovernmental European Union is gradually destroying the member states’ sovereignty. In a federation like the United States of Europe sovereignty is shared by the member states and the federal authority.
In the United States of Europe a federal authority takes care of communal interests and concerns which cannot be taken care of (any longer) by individual member states: defence, climate change, economy, social security, migration, safety and influence on the world stage.
Based on the example, set by the United States of America, already 40% of the world population lives in 28 federal states.
Despite many attempts – through the centuries - convulsive nationalistic-driven politics have prevented attempts to follow the American example of establishing the United States of Europe.
Meanwhile in America, 13 states grew to 50 and became the most influential country in the world. The European Union, on the other hand, did not manage to keep 28 member states united. There are even significant signs that more member states might step out of the European Union.
Since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 – the birth of the so-called nation states – those nation states created a status of anarchy: due to the absence of transnational administration mutual irritations and conflicts led to wars on the European continent.
Within the USA the last war happened between 1861 and 1865, notably in order to get eleven member states, which had left the federal Union in defiance of the Constitution, to return to the federal Union.
In 2015 the total expenditure of European Union were € 145 billion - for a population of about 515 million people.
In 2015 the total expenditure of the federal government of the USA - for its population of about 323 million people: $ 3.8 trillion.
In order to contribute to a better functioning Europe it would be wise to learn first why the weak intergovernmental system of the European Union should be replaced by a strong federal system.
Through the ages any top-down attempt by European politicians to unite the countries of Europe into a Federation has failed. However, one option has never been tried: a European Convention by Citizens, a bottom-up grass root approach by society itself.
The goal of such a Convention is to offer to the European people a Federal European Constitution – just like the Convention of Philadelphia in 1787 offered to the American people a federal Constitution to replace their weak and disintegrating Confederal Treaty.
As soon as a majority of the people in nine EU-countries – just like in America between 1787 and 1798 – ratify this federal Constitution the United States of Europe go into force.
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“The aversion expressed by many to Europe, I find fascinating. As well as my conviction that within a united Europe lies our future. How is it possible that so many people reject something that I embrace with all my heart? Am I mad? No, I studied this course and found the answer: ‘I am not mad’.”
“In 1900 we constituted twenty per cent of the world population. And now? No more than seven or eight percent. At the end of the century we might represent only four or five percent. The significance of Europe - and of the European countries separately – is fading. Nowadays, Europe is only an accumulation of small countries and of countries that do not realise just how small they are. This urges us to cooperate, doesn’t it? It is unbelievable that we still need to convince so many people of this necessity. This course is an important contribution to a better understanding of the need for a cooperating, thus a federal Europe. Maybe it even generates enough support to realise a breakthrough."
This is an organization in which the members remain autonomous and sovereign, while ceding a limitative number of powers to a separately functioning body, so that this body can take care of all interests that the members cannot (or no longer) take care of individually. This body for the whole is sovereign with respect to these limitative set of powers but does not possess top-down hierarchical powers. Thus, both levels of governance operate in a sovereign manner. They share sovereignty for the whole and for the members of the organization, for instance the federated member states. This system can only be changed upon the agreement of all governments, of the members and of the whole.
No. Due to false information by Euro-skeptics and Euro-haters many people think that a Federation is a super state or an empire, which is absolutely not the case; on the contrary. The EU’s present intergovernmental system – in which government leaders in the European Council can decide whatever they wish and subsequently can enforce these decisions to be executed in all member states – is a super state.
Nothing. They remain how they are and they keep what they have: their own parliament, government, judicial system etc. The only thing they do is transfer some well-defined matters that they can no longer efficiently take care of themselves – due to globalization – to another body, so that they do not have to concern themselves with these matters anymore.
Based on a clear explanation you will learn in fourteen lessons everything you need to know about federalizing Europe. The videos are supported by relevant (historical) documents and other study materials.
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Leo Klinkers, PhD, is consultant in public administration, with a background in constitutional law. As co-founder of the Dutch Association of Public Administration he contributed to establishing schools of public administration in vocational and academic institutes. He left the University of Utrecht in 1983 to continue his career as independent consultant for governments in a variety of countries. He is co-author of the European Federalist Papers.
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