The European Union must take a decisive step towards a federal economic government, with common fiscal policies and a larger budget, if it is to save the euro. Saving the euro is the precondition for the economic recovery of all Europe
Therefore a major revision of the EU treaties can no longer be avoided.
EU states which choose not to accept political union will have to be offered a new form of associate membership. At any rate, the new treaty, which will be prepared by a democratic Convention, must be allowed to enter into force before all 27 member states have completed their ratification processes.
These are the main messages of a hard-hitting new pamphlet written by Andrew Duff and published today by the Federal Trust.
In Federal Union Now Duff defines what he means by a federal Europe and points out the steps needed to transform the Lisbon treaty into a more durable constitutional settlement for the EU. He argues that the current negotiations on the reform of the EU’s finances must aim to transfer items from the states’ budgets to the EU budget in the interests of efficiency savings. Such a shift in the levels of spending must be reciprocated by the creation of genuinely autonomous streams of revenue to the EU.
Duff draws a distinction between the tight coordination of national economic policies around a German agenda and that of a genuine fiscal union run by a democratic federal economic government. He strongly opposes the practice of intergovernmental cooperation outside the EU treaty framework, which has always failed in the past.
The new form of EU federal government will require the creation of an EU treasury and the integration of the presidencies of the European Commission and European Council. The author advances the European Parliament’s efforts to improve its own political legitimacy by installing a pan-European constituency for the election of a certain number of MEPs.
A veteran of the EU’s two earlier constitutional Conventions, Duff argues that comprehensive democratic reform will only be achieved through a third Convention composed of ministers, MPs and MEPs.
In a major departure from the status quo, Duff wants the new treaty to enter into force as soon as it has achieved national ratification by only four fifths of the states.
In a stark warning, Andrew Duff says that the recent EU Act of the UK parliament, which installs British referendums on all EU treaty amendment, has imposed an effective unilateral veto on Europe’s evolution towards a federal union. The author asks whether the coalition government has either the moral authority or the political will to prevent the rest of the EU from doing whatever it takes to save the euro. As a contingency plan, Duff proposes that a new category of associate membership be created to cater for the likelihood that the UK will decide not to follow, at least for now, the federalist integration of its mainland European partners.
CONTENTS (28 pp.) • Federal union now • Some history • Defining federalism • Beyond Lisbon • A federal budget • Economic government • Fiscal union • Integrated presidency • A new Convention • Electoral reform • Constitutional settlement • The British problem •
Published in September 2011 by the Federal Trust for Education and Research with the support of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
Available for download as a pdf from http://www.fedtrust.co.uk/admin/uploads/federal-union-now-book.pdf
Editors’ Note: Andrew Duff MEP (UK/Lib Dem) is President of the Union of European Federalists and spokesman on constitutional affairs for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). He is co-chair of the Spinelli Federalist Intergroup and the Parliament’s rapporteur on electoral reform.