What impact may Brexit have on the path to the EU’s federalisation?
I have already covered this subject on this website debating Brexit and the future of the EU here. But why I raise this subject of Brexit on this website in the first place? Simply, because however it ends, it will significantly impact the EU’s travel towards becoming a European Federation. And those who have visited this website before, or read my book, know that of all available organisations, it is the federated EU, which has the best chance of becoming a de facto World Government. We urgently need such an organisation because it is the only way to mitigate global existential risks, including the development of Superintelligence. So, why is Brexit happening and how it may impact the EU integration, ultimately leading to a federation?
The origin of the UK’s hostility towards any closer EU integration, which is a codename for the EU’s federalisation, lies in its colonial past. That policy was best illustrated by Churchill’s view on the role of Britain in the world after the war. He saw Britain keeping a dominant role in the world, based on the concept of triangular relationships: Britain and its Empire (at that time about half of the world’s population), Europe and the USA. He saw Britain working with Europe but being its equal partner. Objectively, it was very difficult to think otherwise. After all, it was Britain that went to the Europe’s rescue at least three times: in 1815 – Waterloo, the first and second World War. The empire is gone and the UK’s dominance in the world has been fading rapidly but that illusory view of being a dominant power equal the EU is still being perceived as real by many MPs. About 50 of them, mainly conservatives, have been pushing consistently for at least 30 years to get Britain out of the EU. Now they have nearly achieved their goal.
One of the key arguments of Brexiters for exiting the EU is that it is a bureaucratic institution, which does not meet its own proclaimed values neither at a parliamentary nor an executive level. I do not deny for a minute that the EU has a long way to go in upholding its own values. However, it is not a unique organization or a state thatfails to do so. We, as individuals, or as nation states are not infallible. We all make mistakes and are inconsistent in what we do. The UK parliament is no exception, just look how some MPs (Johnson, Gove, Davis) behave and how the UK government ignored the will of the parliament (defying its request to publish a full report on the legal consequences of the UK leaving the EU, and as such being guilty of the contempt of the parliament). Additionally, we should remember that the EU’s key goal is to maintain peace in Europe and an economic convergence. Being a relatively young and very diverse organisation, EU must sometimes compromise in how fast it can ‘walk the talk’. EU has been changing over time in big radical steps rather than through the implementation of small improvements. A new big step is needed, and it is encouraging to see some concrete proposals (Macron and Juncker) e.g. on fundamental changes to the rules for electing the EU president and the new prerogatives for the Parliament. Generally, irrespective of some inconsistencies, the EU’s adherence to certain values and democratic principles lies at the very core of this organisation, best expressed in the EU Charter on Human Rights.
But what is the most important among those values? It’s the preservation of LIFE! That applies to preserving the lives of individuals as well as survival of all of us as humans, which in the first instance means avoiding wars. That requires all EU nations to work together to achieve that common goal which may require some limitation of their national sovereignty. Therefore, anybody that dreams about increasing his nation’s sovereignty, like most of Brexiters do, or personal freedom, must view that in the context of the EU’s foremost important goal – maintaining peace. To preserve peace and by extension LIFE itself, we need to mitigate imminent existential risks, which may require a further shrinking of EU nations’ sovereignty or personal freedom. After all, it happened in democracies before e.g. in the UK during WWII. As humanity, we must begin to behave differently, if we want to survive. We should focus primarily on saving our life as a species, i.e. preserving Humanity and only then on protecting an individual freedom.
From such a global perspective, the UK’s potential exit from the EU is even worse. The next decade will most likely be the most severe period in the history of human species. And I am not talking about climate change, that could become an existential risk (literally) only by the end of the next century. I am rather talking about nine other existential risks, of which two: Immature Superintelligence and lab-generated super-bugs are the most imminent. That would require making fast decisions within hours on a global scale. For example, a malicious switching off the power supply in the Northern Hemisphere for three weeks in winter would cost 9 million lives in the USA alone. Dispersing a flu-type artificially modified bacteria by a ‘mad scientist’ may lead to pandemic of biblical proportions. Minimizing its spread would require closing all borders within a day or so. We must start behaving like a swarm guided by its Queen. Of all the nations, perhaps China and the Jewish nation have been cultivating best that instinct of self-preservation for over 2,500 years. But who would guide Humanity like a swarm to preserve its existence? We would need the World Government with effective supreme powers. That of course will not happen, as evidenced by the results achieved by the World Federalist Movement that has been trying to do that for the last 70 years. The only hope would be to adapt an existing organization that could take a partial role of a de-facto world government, the subject that I cover in my book at length. The conclusion is that the best candidate would be the European Union gradually converted into a European Federation.
Britain has not exited the EU yet and in my view, which I expressed over 2.5 years ago, it will not meaningfully exit that organisation. There are two scenarios:
Scenario 1: Britain will soon return as a full member of the EU. If the UK returns to the EU as a full member, it will have a profound positive effect on the EU and beyond. First of all, it will be one of the most powerful examples of what damage populism can do to a nation. It will also show that such processes, like wars before, start a period of activities going in the opposite direction (like peace building after the war). Therefore, the British re-entry into the EU might create a strong boost for the European integration, showing other nations thinking about following the UK’s example that after all it is better to be together than apart. The only unknown element in this scenario is the British attitude to the integration process itself. Most likely Britain would not join Euro immediately and its hesitance to drop its aversion to the ‘ever closer union’ will still be there for another few years. However, to progress the Euro Zone conversion into a Federal Europe, the most natural way to convert the EU into a Federation, without being continually opposed by Britain, is the creation of the EU Zones.
Scenario 2: Britain will formally exit the EU but will stay very closely to its single market and customs union arrangement. This would be a kind of a parallel universe, where British trading and other relations (e.g. free movement of people) will be regulated by the EU’s legislation but where Britain will have no influence on the EU law creation, in return for ‘unconstrained access’ to the EU market. In this scenario, where Britain will be being outside the EU’s decision-making process, the integration of the EU might be accelerated by the absence of Britain’s veto on the EU’s integration efforts. On the other hand, the example of Britain being outside the EU and somehow surviving might encourage some countries to resist further integration process and even follow the UK’s example.