Anyone, who is convinced that Europe needs to be federated because it will start the process of bringing about a planetary civilization, must be frustrated with the current scope and final objectives of the Future of Europe Conference. Among the people most frustrated are of course millions of federalists. So, how could they make the prospect of creating the European Federation real?
It has not yet been decided in detail how the Citizens’ Assemblies, called for the Future of Europe Conference, will work, for how long, and what exact rights they will have. What is, however, important is the implicit recognition that the European democracy has not been working properly. The way forward points clearly to what is the desired direction, at least this is how President Macron sees it. It is an increased engagement and trust of the European citizens. Currently, it is at such a low level that it has created disillusionment with how the EU works and puts in doubt whether the EU is necessary at all. Perhaps this has finally mobilised some leaders to make these proposals.
It is not yet known either, if this fresh attempt will fundamentally change how the EU works. Before the Covid-19 pandemic it was clear that a strong opposition would come from the usual suspects. These are the EU leaders – members of the European Council, because they would lose most, should the Conference end with a success, like the creation of the European Federation. However, what is encouraging, is a strong support coming from the members of the European Parliament.
Since the situation after the end of the current pandemic will be entirely different than just a few months ago, people supporting the European federalization should abandon the current minimalistic goals. Instead they should be bolder than ever, and demand that the Conference debates the shape of the future European Federation, preparing its Constitution and setting a concrete date for the transfer of those EU members that want it, to the European Federation. They should thus use the momentum and the infrastructure of the Conference (with some modifications) but reject the proposed objectives as far inadequate from what is required right now.
I would split these expectations, or wishes into three lists. Of course, this is a subjective list, but after all, I am a European citizen, so hear my voice. The first list indicates how the process of the Conference should be conducted post Covid-19 pandemic. The second one is about the shape of the European Federation and the third one, about what’s in it really for the European citizens.
European citizens’ wish list for the process of conducting the Conference
- Citizens’ representatives must be included in the Conference Plenary
- Citizens Assemblies must be set up in all EU countries and may also include other European countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Ukraine, Georgia, the UK and the Balkan countries
- The Conference Plenary should invite other European countries as observers and proposers, since it should be the Conference on the future of the whole Europe and not just the EU
- The Conference Plenary’s decisions must be binding and become law
- The final product of the conference must be the EU Constitution, which would declare that on a certain date, e.g. 1.1.2025, the EU becomes the European Federation
- A new Constitution should be approved in two stages by Citizens’ Assemblies. In the first stage, each country’s Citizens’ Assembly would ratify or reject the Constitution and then elect by a simple majority the delegates for a Transnational European Citizens’ Assembly. If, say, 66% of the delegates in that Assembly approve the Constitution, it should become a legal document of the EU.
European citizens’ wish list for the outline of the European Federation
- Use the Future of Europe Conference as the Fast Track Route to the EU federalization
- Attempt to draft a new EU Constitution within the next 2-3 years
- Set a firm date for the EU federalization e.g. 1.1.2025
- Set up the European Federation (EF) State with four subsidiary zones, such as:
- European Federation Convergence Area (EFCA), which would include the current remaining member states of the EU
- European Federation Single Market (EFSM)
- European Federation Customs Union (EFCU)
- European Federation Association Area (EFAA)
That would enable less prepared candidates to move up to the more advanced Zone over the years, to facilitate greater flexibility for EF expansion
- Offer to complete the transition by 2025 to all EU member states.
- Should that be impossible, start the transition to the EF state by initially creating it from the ‘Avantgarde’ EU member countries (at least 9 members), by enacting the Article 20 of the Lisbon Treaty. That would create a critical mass for other countries joining in shortly after that
- Set up the EF on the ‘Minimal State’ principle, where the nations will transfer to the EF state only minimal powers, which it must have to function as a state, i.e. Foreign Affairs, the European Army, Federal Finance, Federal Police and Federal Agencies (membership of which is voluntary)
- Apply 80/20 rule, acknowledging that many areas of the EF will not be initially working perfectly, but the urgency should override the ‘cleanness’ of the federalization process
- Enable a ‘Fast track federalization’ in the EF Constitution for the existing candidates and associate members, providing they would strictly abide by the rules of democracy of the EF Constitution
- Ensure that the future EF Constitutional Court has supremacy over national laws in the EF nations and in the subsidiary zones (if applicable)
- Confirm English as the official language of the EF
- Accept the right to nationhood for regions of more than 5m citizens (smaller regions would need the agreement from the nation-state, to which they belong). Such regions will have the right to automatically become the nations on their own within the EF or separate from the EF and become an independent state, enabling the ‘Cantonization’ of Europe
- Confirm that the EF will take over all national debts of its members and introduce a substantial 20-year cohesion (wealth distribution) programme
What’s in it for a European citizen?
From a purely socio-political perspective, European citizens expect that the new Constitution will introduce a new system of democracy, which will give them many additional levels of control over the government. That should significantly reduce the impact of politics of deception practiced by all parties, but foremost by populists. Additionally, they would need re-assurance that the economic system becomes much fairer as a result of deep constitutional changes impacting the company law, the relationships between the company stakeholders and the limits on personal wealth. Therefore, they would expect that the new Constitution will enact these changes:
- Introduce a new, consensus-based democracy, in which coalitions will be preferred to create an additional control over the politicians and the government
- Create the position of the President and two Vice Presidents with significant powers, where the Presidents becomes the ultimate arbiter between the parties, if a consensus cannot be reached
- Create an additional Citizens Chamber in the EF Parliament, where the members will be selected using a random selection method from an electoral roll, which should provide an additional level of control over the government
- Establish a maximum 2-term period of service at any level of political decision making
- Reform Company law, establishing among others equal stakeholders’ rights
- Introduce Universal Basic Income or Negative Income Tax to improve equality in wealth distribution
- Raise minimum living wage to €1,000
- Introduce large infrastructure projects in the green energy area and accelerate the reduction of CO2 from the atmosphere.