The United States of Europe
Utopia or Future Reality?
— See also, by the same author, The Restriction of National Sovereignty: State Trading and the Rule of Law (2015).
In this article, we are going to see that the idea of world government, of a unification of peoples, and for the purpose of bringing peace is not new.
It was contained in the so-called peace plans drafted by European philosophers back in the 18th century; since then, the unification idea has fueled a constant progress toward peace and peaceful cooperation among European countries.
For all those who are still critical about Europe, the fact should be considered that since 1945, there was no more war between the nations that are members of the European Union (EU) and the treaties that preceded the union, the ECSC (1951) and the EEC (1957).
While the European integrative process was surely not smooth, and while there is still much to criticize, the unification of Europe was successful by and large, and it has given peace to peoples who formerly were constantly battling with each other.
In fact, the major problem in world politics is not the racial, ethnic or cultural difference of peoples, but the institution of national sovereignty, as a power structure that is very much prone to being abused.
Interestingly enough, this was seen by those European philosophers, Kant, Rousseau, and others already after about the first two hundred years of national sovereignty having become a doctrine in international law. It was from about the 16th century, with the decline of the Church’s power during the Renaissance, and with the need to form strong secular governments that the doctrine was gradually set in place, in the main European nations, Germany, France and Italy. Generally, the publication of Machiavelli’s political novel The Prince (1513), is seen by international law scholars as a mark stone for the establishment of the doctrine of national sovereignty in international law and practice.
Until the 18th century, it had become obvious to political observers and realistic philosophers that the doctrine of national sovereignty, and the mere fact that those modern governments were secular for the most part, did not bring the desired benefits. One of the initial ideas behind the establishment of strong secular governments was to avoid religious wars that had devastated Europe during the Middle-Ages, and under the politically flawed regime of the Church. The idea was indeed that national sovereignty would bring more peace, by avoiding religious conflicts, wars and civil wars.
But it was unfortunately a shortsighted view for each of those strong secular regimes, then, wanted to gain the overhand in Europe, with the result that warfare continued, and became even more devastating than ever before in Europe. And we all know that it continued all through the centuries until 1945!
Thus, we can say Europe is an interesting forum for testing ideas, and we can conclude, contrary to the many black seers today, that the idea of unification was bringing peace to Europe without destroying national identities, cultures, languages and customs.
In fact, this is the main argument among today’s youth against the idea of world government; they fear that a unification of the globe would lead to an Orwellian global system that would suppress personal freedom and lead to a kind of global Nazi empire. The voices are strong, and one has to browse only Google, Youtube and other popular forums to see what young people today think of the idea.
It seems to me that conspiracy theory has become so popular that at the end of the day, it’s difficult to make out what is reality and what is conspiracy. In fact, these masses of people have rarely looked over the fence of their own cultural, political and social conditioning, and they have rarely investigated the details of human political history. If they had, they would see that war, while it’s triggered by political and economic greed, is regularly sold to the masses with psychological arguments that stress the difference of the other nation, and that paint that other reality in blacker notes than that one is familiar with.
This was very well visible in the history of World War II, where about every nation involved in the war game indulged in demonizing the other nations, those on ‘the other side,’ while painting rosy images for those nations one was allied with.
The masses rarely know what the real motivations are for triggering wars, and who actually gains all that money with war; what they get to see and to hear is the psychological rhetoric that targets at demonizing those one wishes to attack and subdue. This argument is valid both for what at that time was called by Hitler ‘the outer enemy,’ and ‘the inner enemy.’
The rhetoric of the Nazis was namely to demonize the Jews as the main ‘inner enemies,’ which is the strategy that eventually resulted in the Holocaust. Thus, it has to be seen that the main danger in all of this is that people do not really know who are those beyond the fence, what kind of people they are, what they think and do, what they believe to be true, and so forth. They imagine them to be ‘very different,’ just because one lacks knowledge about them, and that is why people can easily be brought to believe that those others are ‘evil’ or ‘more evil’ than oneself.
It is no wonder then that people who enjoyed higher education, and who have traveled much, who speak different languages, are seldom manipulated into becoming haters and persecutors, or war mangers. It is always those who know little, who have seen and heard little, and who ignore the main truths about the commonality of all human beings, as a matter of cosmic resonance, as a matter of the basic harmony within all of creation.
The war mangers exploit that lack of knowledge of the masses, to get them where the political and economic leaders want to get them, and this manipulatory process is much more difficult to stage once peoples are unified in one land without national borders, without passport controls, and without national newspapers that use to emphasize the ‘goodness’ of one’s nation and their people, and the ‘strangeness’ of the other nations and their people.
The argument that ‘national identities’ have to be preserved is a fallacy. It is exactly that hypothetical and illusory fiction of national identity that leads to all those wars. There is no such identity, and if there is, it has been put up as a matter of constant ruthless propaganda, for the very purpose of leading the people to the next war. People have customs, they have personal, ethnic, religious and regional identities, they may have clan identities as well, as one can see in Italy or Corsica, they certainly have cultural identities, but not by nature a ‘national’ identity. Hence, the harmful element is the national identity because it is the psychological mirror of national sovereignty.
When national sovereignty is voluntarily restricted by the nation states member of a world government, national identities will be gone if not from one day to the other, but within a few months or years, they will be dissolved, while the other identities will be kept in place.
It may be useful during the first years of such a government to actively emphasize the cultural identities of the peoples, in the sense a Hopi native recently communicated it to me. He said that the Hopi idea of peaceful togetherness is one where there is ‘diversity within unity,’ and that their leaders, when they emphasize peace and unity, always also emphasize the cultural diversity of the different tribes.
The Early Plans for ‘Eternal Peace’
It has been observed since the beginning of the Iraq invasion that the political weight of the European Union (EU) and the process of European Integration were never before of greater and more global importance than at that moment in human political history.
In fact, had the union reached not only a certain amount of economic integration but also political integration with a central European government and an established foreign politics, the outcome of USA’s offensive war declaration against Iraq might have been different.
International law experts notably unite in the opinion that the United States have violated fundamental principles of international law by their invasion in Iraq, and this not only because they disregarded to comply with the advice and measures of the United Nations’ Security Council, but for more general reasons. And here we are only talking about the invasion as such and not about the nowadays much more discussed fact that the US occupation powers systematically violate human rights on an almost daily basis by harassing the Iraqi population and mistreating prisoners of war, denying fundamental civil rights and fair trial to them.
As the leading socioeconomic and political powers in present-day Europe, led by France and Germany, were and are against a unilateral world-policing superpower USA that forces each and every opponent or pseudo-opponent to knee-jerking ‘world democracy,’ a third political power block next to America and Asia, however it may be called, represents a potentially paradigm-shifting lever for bringing about a largescale landslide on the political and strategic world map.
It is a well-known fact that France under a courageous and self-assured President Jacques Chirac played a particularly preponderant role in contradicting George W. Bush’s foreign policy concept for the Middle East, unveiling it as a badly masked invasion strategy with a neocolonial base intention. It makes a fundamental difference when on the international scene not a single nation state dares to oppose the United States’ hegemonic world power, but a whole political, economic and military block of two dozens of nation states.
This block that a politically unified Europe could represent in the future, is of amazingly similar dimensions as the United States, both in terms of size and economic prowess. And the people who drafted these peace projects were no lesser than the greatest philosophers of Europe, or perhaps of humanity, and they certainly are considered as highly integer by United States citizens as well.
I shall thus have a look at what historically were the common roots of both the process of supranational and of international integration.
Many today seem to have forgotten that the original impetus for founding a United Europe was first of all to establish an international political system suited for purporting peace, stability and growth for all nation states, regardless of their military might and their economic and political power.
The early peace projects were unanimously targeting at bringing about a new era of peace, nothing less and nothing of lesser value for all of us, that is, for the world community, not just for Europe. It is important to note this as the starting point, because it shows the human, and truly international intention of the early fathers of the world peace idea.
I will first present the peace projects drafted by Abbé de Saint-Pierre, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Saint-Simon and Coudenhove-Kalergi that were intended at bringing about a European confederation — of whatever structure and political form — with the single most important focus to facilitate the peace process between nation states that historically have always fought against each other.
That is why these plans or projects for a European Constitution are simply called ‘peace plans’ in the international law literature. And when we consider the quite notorious international debate on the occasion of the invasion of the United States in Iraq, we cannot close our eyes in front of the political reality that a historical chance for establishing a peaceful world community has been missed at the onset of the 21st century. It was hopefully not missed forever.
Abbé de Saint-Pierre
The peace plan of the French Abbé de Saint-Pierre, presented in his Mémoire pour Rendre la Paix Perpétuelle en Europe (1713), literally translated as Memo for Establishing Eternal Peace in Europe, foresaw a ‘Confederation of all European Sovereigns.’ The unified Europe was projected to be directed by a federal government.
— See the summery in: Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon & Auguste Thierry, De la réorganisation de la société européenne (1814), Livre Premier, Chap. II, III in the edition of the Centre de Recherches Européennes, Lausanne 1967, pp. 36, 37.
This plan stipulated in its five main articles that —
- Representatives of the contracting member states are going to be members of a permanent congress;
- The number of the voting sovereigns and those that are invited to join the convention is to be established;
- Each member state is to receive a guarantee safeguarding his territorial property; by the same token, the sovereign, his family and his premises are to be protected both against foreign invaders and rebellion from the side of his own vassals;
- The congress is functioning as the highest judge regarding the rights of the member states;
- The community is to be enabled to proceed with armed forces against each and every member state that breaks the convention, as well as against public enemies.
— Id., p. 37 (Translation mine).
This early plan already contained the idea of creating a supranational authority to be assigned precisely outlined powers and competences, while it must be conceded that these competences were in last resort depending on the goodwill of the sovereigns member of the convention.
Obviously, the guarantee of each sovereign’s personal and territorial power seemed to have been the main focus of the draft convention. Interestingly, we know through historical research that this point (point three of the draft convention) was added later to the draft by Abbé de Saint-Pierre, namely in the hope of giving a stimulus to sovereigns to join the convention.
The project of a European government was a preoccupation of no lesser a mind than Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He discussed the plan of Abbé de Saint-Pierre in his draft convention entitled Extrait du Projet de Paix Perpétuelle de Monsieur l’Abbé de Saint-Pierre (1761).
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Oeuvres complètes, Vol. 2, Paris: Seuil, 1971, 333–352. Literally translated ‘Excerpt of the Eternal Peace Project of Mr. Abbé de Saint-Pierre.’
Starting from a rather pessimistic outlook on the will of European sovereigns to ratify such a wide-ranging supranational agreement, thereby renouncing up some of their sovereignty, he wrote in 1758 in the Fragment sur le Projet de Paix Perpétuelle:
One must be as simple-minded as Abbé de Saint-Pierre for proposing the slightest innovation in whatever government in the world …
— Id., 347. In his novel Émile, Rousseau even refers to the famous priest as somebody with ‘great projects and little insights.’
Rousseau argued that common sense or ‘reason’ was not enough to ban future wars and instead required a clear and unequivocal subordination of the partner states under the newly created supranational federal government in exactly the same way as individuals are subordinated to their home country’s government. (Id., 335)
And that Rousseau’s ideas were not bleak and blank propositions, but had realistic impact is to be seen in the precise wording of the conditions that Rousseau puts on paper:
- A federal government with singular and precise competencies;
- A federal legislation that is directly binding;
- A federal executive power with coercive competence over member states;
- A cohesion of the confederation so high that in the long run federal interests are going to prevail over national interests.
— Id., 340
Rousseau summarizes the advantages of the project in eight points, among which the points five till eight merit particular attention:
- Freedom of trade as well as safety in the trade between member states;
- Reduction of the defense budget and economic gain in times of peace;
- Advancement of agriculture and prosperity for the member states’ rulers.
— Id., 347
Rousseau proved to be particularly lucid with regard to the details of Abbé de Saint-Pierre’s peace convention, but argued that ‘the thousand little difficulties will eventually all be levied when an enterprise of this grandeur is going to be put in practice.’ (Id., 341)
He also recognized a crucial point that today we learn thoroughly in our practice of drafting supranational agreements, namely that it is, if ever, not a coercive force, but the nation states themselves that restrain their sovereignty to convey that supranational or international organism a sovereignty of its own.
Rousseau was realistic enough to consider that modern nation states, despite the obvious advantages of supranational agreements, are very reluctant in practice to make concessions with regard to their sovereignty and the privileges it confers.
In his posthumous published writing Jugement sur le Projet de Paix Perpétuelle (1782), Rousseau reflects about the possible interests that nation states might bring in play. And he distinguished between a real and an apparent interest (intérêt réel et intérêt apparent) in those states’ political action.
Rousseau saw the ‘real interest’ realized when a peace convention was eventually ratified; the ‘apparent interest’ was the secret wish of every single sovereign involved in the negotiations to gain privileges and advantages that the others are deprived of. The reason for this ambiguity was, according to Rousseau, the feudal system which made him conclude that a supranational federal government was, if ever, to be brought about through a revolution. (Id., 348 ff.)
This means that, ultimately, Rousseau doubted that the nation states would deliberately, and voluntarily, renounce a large part of their sovereignty for the creation of a world government; he rather speculated that the latter would, if ever, be brought about through chaos, upheaval, and violent transformation of the political status quo.
The German philosopher Immanuel Kant published his peace project Zum Ewigen Frieden in 1795, during the last days of the French Revolution.
— Kants Werke, Band VIII, Abhandlungen nach 1781 (1923), 341–386. Literally ‘For Eternal Peace.’
This is a suspicious coincidence when you remember what Jean-Jacques Rousseau had predicted as a condition for world peace. The first two articles of this draft read:
- The constitution in all member states shall be republican. (Id., 349)
- International law is to be based upon a confederation of free states. (Id., 354)
It is interesting to read about a European confederation for the first time not in 1951, but in 1795 and thus one hundred fifty years before the first step of European Integration that still today, at the time I write this, in 2010, is not entirely realized, as we have not yet reached political unification.
We should have a closer look at these two main articles of Kant’s convention. What is highly interesting, even from today’s perspective, is the fact that Kant recognized what might be called the internal setup of the member states (Article 1) to be equally important as their togetherness on the international stage (Article 2). The internal setup, the ‘constitutional software’ as it were of a nation state is what Kant considered to be the hanger of the whole convention.
We have had enough experience to know today that indeed without a democratic base setup within each member state, their peaceful togetherness is highly unlikely. We have good historical examples for the lucidity of this view when we look at Europe, on one hand, and the United States, on the other.
The United States realized the Republican Constitution within the first state member of the new confederation, after the break with England. This first state of the confederation, nomen est omen, was New England.
The creation of the United States of America, with all the prosperity and power this creation was going to bring to its citizens and the world, was possible because all member states were modeled after the prototype of New England, and thus got state constitutions with clearly defined civil rights and constitutional guarantees for the citizen.
What happened in Europe? War.
Kant and Rousseau were right in that the feudal system was incompatible with the European unification process; what happened was that the social injustice inherent in feudalism rendered every attempt for peace an illusion for a long time to come.
When we see what cruel and destructive wars were to occur after Kant’s and Rousseau’s death in Europe until 1945, we get an idea of how painful, slow, incremental and important the unification process was for Europe, until today.
Behold, Kant and Rousseau did not have utopian ideas! Ideas are seeds that fall on soil that is either fertile or not. And often in history ideas fall in soil that is not fertile at the time the ideas come up. As with time and effort, the field was again and again plowed, the soil became more and more fertile, until one day the seed was able to grow. It’s like that with all ideas, so why should it have been different with the great idea of a unified Europe?
Today, matters look not bad after all. We have achieved to bring about a European Union (EU) with more than forty members and considerable economic power. This union was peaceful since 1945 and thus, what was a rare exception in pre-20th century Europe, there were no more internal wars since sixty-five years.
Furthermore, efforts are presently made to draft a directly binding European Constitution, which admittedly failed in the first run but that will eventually succeed with the growing insight in the enormous responsibility that we all bear for bringing about this important step toward peace in European history, and by extension and analogy, in world history.
To summarize, when we compare Kant’s project with the draft conventions of Abbé de Saint-Pierre and Rousseau, we can say that the French and Swiss philosophers had a keener and more realistic outlook on the future of Europe, and that their proposals were also of higher practical value, more detailed and more down-to-earth than the somewhat idealistic and high-strung plan Immanuel Kant.
Contrary to the previously discussed projects that intended to bring about a unified and pacified Europe through a union of their sovereigns, and thus by forming something like a supranational government, the proposal submitted by Count Saint-Simon was targeting much more at a unification of the peoples that were going to form the basis for that European Union. In fact, we can make out two possible ways to bring about a European confederation:
- Unification from above, through imposing a supranational government;
- Unification from below, through a peaceful democratic union of the peoples.
The plan of Saint-Simon, published in 1814, was to create Europe from the bottom up, not from the top down.
— Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon, De la réorganisation de la société européenne (1967), Livre Premier, Chap. II, III. The rather long title of the proposal was ‘De la Réorganisation de la Société Européenne ou de la Nécessité et des Moyens de Rassembler les Peuples de l’Europe en un seul Corps Politique en Conservant a Chacun son Indépendance Nationale, de Claude Henri de Saint-Simon et son élève Auguste-Thierry (1814).’
The title of the draft suggests a unification and confederation of the peoples that form the European soil; the solution was a political union that started at the very root level of society. Such a constitution ‘from below’, the plan projected, was to start the unification process by creating a European parliament (parlement européen). (Id., 27)
The idea was that as a matter of analogy, a union of peoples was to be created in much the same way as the union of one people.
When one nation needed a national parliament with representatives for all its citizens, a unified body of peoples needed a supranational parliament with representatives of all the peoples of the union that was forming the legislative body for the confederation. This requirement that today is fully realized, was indeed inspired by a keen sense of political realities. Saint-Simon concluded that without such a parliament, all, in the future of Europe, was again but a result of the power play of the European rulers. (Id., 35)
The plan also contained one of the base principles of an integrational model, which is the creation of independent European institutions with precisely described competences.
Saint-Simon, just like Rousseau and Kant, started from the premise that as a first step a republican regime was to be founded in each of the future member states of the confederation. The formulation of this goal in the plan can be taken as the classical functional description of a parliament:
There must be a coactive force that unifies the singular intentions, orchestrates the movements, transforms interests as propitious for the common good and solidifies commitments.
Saint-Simon’s idea that a European confederation could be created only from the moment that a republican regime was established in each member state is interesting because it predicted the future in some way. We have seen the problem broadly discussed with regard to Turkey’s anticipated membership of the European Union. While Turkey has a republican constitution, the human rights abuses that Turkey is internationally blamed for might be an obstacle on both a political and integrational level.
The public discussion has made it clear that no member state of the EU is willing to tolerate a state-member that openly or in hidden ways sabotages civil rights or fosters totalitarian ways of government.
The difference to the setup of the United Nations is striking here as under the United Nations Charter, the form and nature of the internal government of each member state would belong to the ‘internal affairs of that state’ and thus not justify any action from the part of the other members states, Art. 2 (4) United Nations Charter.
This is a good example to show how different the United Nations are from the European Union in that European Integration was from the start understood as a process that requires a much higher level of coherence and homogeneity from its member states than, for example, the United Nations.
Another point of interest in discussing Saint-Simon’s plan is the biting criticism of the peace project by Abbé de Saint-Pierre. Joining Rousseau in the reproach that the priest’s proposal was to rigidify and perpetuate the feudal system, there are four points that Saint-Simon derives from the Church’s organization:
- A unified conception of national and supranational governmental structures and competences;
- A total independence of the supranational government from the national governments;
- Motivation of the supranational government should be rooted exclusively in common interests, and not in partial interests of certain member states;
- Public opinion within the community as the only guide post for the action of supranational government and parliament representatives.
— Id., 39 (Translation mine)
These maxims are of an astounding lucidity and have not lost a bit of their originality to this very day. In fact they are fully valid and applicable still in our present societies, and we can observe that they are often not respected in the daily running of the European Union.
Only in one point Saint-Simon’s view was a bit too limitative. He saw the function of the European Parliament exclusively in resolving conflicts between member states, overlooking that the main function of a parliament is its legislative power, and that conflict resolution traditionally is better placed in the hands of diplomacy and direct personal contacts between head of states. But apart from this single limitation, Saint-Simon’s plan is of high value and has certainly given flesh to the present integration model.
In addition, and contrary to Abbé de Saint-Pierre, Rousseau and Kant, Saint-Simon saw the functional and dynamic character of European Integration, its constancy and incremental character characterized by moving from one stage of integration to the next.
He saw the beginning of the confederation in a union of the British and French parliaments to one common parliament, in which at a later stage the German parliament should join.
This was historically the first time that the idea of a gradual process of European integration was invented and elaborated, and we can clearly see today that this idea was the one that was going to be realized in Europe from 1951 until today, and not Rousseau’s extravagant idea of bringing about peace and stability through a bloody revolution.
The aftermath of the French Revolution, as we all know, has shown that in fact the feudal structures were only labeled differently but that in substance nothing changed — only that many people lost their lives for an idiotic political reform that decapitated undesired heads only to put even more undesired heads in their place.
But the French revolution and also the German revolution of 1848 taught European self-thinkers and honest politicians that a unification of Europe was not going to be brought about through revolutions, bloody or unbloody, but through gradual change, flexible renewal, constant good-will and a step-by-step process of social, economic and political integration.
Today, every single head of state in Europe is convinced of this reality, and this insight makes the strength of Europe, and to a much lesser extent our economic or future political power. We have grown from our sandbox games into more mature relationships, and such a process can only create results through deep reflection and a strong effort to putting the past behind, not through quick-tempered decisions and emotional turmoil.
And this poised condition and self-assured outlook into the future is mirrored in the Charter of the EEC, Art. 237, 1 where we read that ‘every European state can apply for membership in the community.’
After the catastrophe of World War I, and in a situation where a keen sense of realities replaced 19th century idealism a new voice was to be heard that was fueled by a true passion for Europe and for democracy, the voice from inside the deepest of all resistance movements against Hitler and fascism was the voice of Count Richard N. Coudenhove-Kalergi in his book Paneuropa (1926).
The most interesting aspect of the book is the clear insight that a United Europe will, if ever, be brought about only through a gradual process of integration.
— Richard N. Coudenhove-Kalergi, Paneuropa (1926), Chapter XI, 1, p. 140. ‘Pan’ connotes ‘all,’ ‘entire’ or ‘whole.’
The author sees this gradual process realized through four consecutive steps:
- The creation of a pan-European conference;
- The conclusion of an obligatory arbitrage and guarantee agreement;
- A European customs unification for bringing about a European economic union;
- The realization of the United States of Europe after the example of the United States of America through a pan-European Constitution and a supranational parliament consisting of two houses: the Congress and the House of Representatives.
— Id., pp. 140–142 (Translation mine).
In no previous plan for a European integration the various phases of a step-by-step building of the community were pointed out with that precision and clarity. In so far, the integrational draft convention by Coudenhove-Kalergi can be seen as the antithesis to Rousseau’s constitutional model.
In the years to come, the pan-European ideas were motivating and fueling the resistance movements not only against Hitler, but also against Mussolini in Italy and the Vichy regime in France. These peace plans, that were further elaborated in the anti-fascist underground between the two world wars were directly flowing into the European integration dynamism of post-World War II.
— See, for example, Pipkorn in Beutler/Bieber/Pipkorn/Streil, Die Europäische Gemeinschaft (1982), 1.2.2, p. 30. See more generally, Walter Lipgens, Europa-Föderationspläne der Widerstandsbewegungen 1940–1945 (1968).
Integration vs. Constitution
With the European Community for Coal and Steal (Montan Union) in 1951, the historical foundation was laid for the prototypical realization of a European unification in a relatively restricted, but economically important sector.
— After the draft elaborated by Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, the Montan contract was signed in a summit of the six founding members of the European Community on April 18, 1951 in Paris.
The subsequent creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957 was a significant step ahead toward integration through the integrative vision of both the European Court of Justice and the European Parliament.
— See Art. 2 and Art. 3 EEC Charta where some ‘tasks of the community’ are enumerated, without however this description being final and definitive. The general opinion of European law experts here is namely that this clause is soft and that new tasks can be subsumed here as far as they do not contradict the general founding principles of the community and serve the day-to-day running of the community and the realization of its goals.
It is interesting to note that the EEC was realized along the schema proposed by Coudenhove-Kalergi in that it came about through three essential unifications, first a governmental summit, second a contract followed by a trade union, followed, third, by the final step yet to be realized, the foundation of the political union that Coudenhove-Kalergi called ‘The United States of Europe.’
The integration function of the European Parliament became especially important after the first direct election of the parliamentarians in 1979. This should however not let us forget that the most important lever for European integration is Article 18 EEC Charter that stipulates as the first integrative step the realization of a trade union with a unified customs index for all member states of the community.
The second fundamental integrative step then will be the political union or foundation of a European Republic through the unification of national political decision-making by the supranational decision-making of the United States of Europe that first of all would require a unified foreign politics.
— Art. 105 EEC Charta only speaks of the ‘coordination of the national economic policies.’ The political union can thus not be realized under the present conceptual framework of the EEC Charta but needs a fundamental new agreement of all members of the EEC so as to enlarge the competences of the European executive forces and grant them direct executive powers within the territorial sovereignty of each member state.
This was the most important point in the proposal of the Belgian prime minister Leo Tindemans in 1975 which consolidated the results of the first official proclamation of the European Union during the Paris Summit in 1972.
— Bulletin of the European Community (Bull. EC), Addendum 1/1976.
The Integrational Model
It is interesting to note that a unified foreign policy was namely not contained in the union’s task catalog proposed by Tindemans, but that only a common attitude of all member states was required in this important point.
— Paragraph I. B. 1, p. 13 of the Tindemans Memo.
As the reader might remember from my discussion of the historical draft conventions, it is rather the constitutionalists such as Abbé de Saint-Pierre, Rousseau and Kant who require a strong unified political force and supranational executive power, whereas the integrationalists, Saint-Simon and Coudenhove-Kalergi, tend to be much more reluctant with conferring executive political powers to the unified political government of the new supranational union.
And when we see that Tindemans was openly on the side of the integrationalists, we might better understand why his draft was lacking out in one of the most important constituents of a true political union: a central government with independent political powers and a strong executive.
In fact, Tindemans wrote the integrational system directly in his report.
— Paragraph I. B. 6, p. 13 of the Tindemans Memo.
After the first direct election of the European Parliament, the Genscher-Colombo-Plan presented at the London Summit in 1981 represents a further milestone in the integrative-pragmatic direction and focuses on an extension of existing integrative levers, as for example a concerted action between the European Commission and the European Parliament and the revision of certain developments in the aftermath of the Luxemburg Compromise of 1966.
— Bull. EP Nr. 50/1981, p. 31 und EA 1982/2, pp. 50 ff. See also the comment of Pauline Neville-Jones, The Genscher/Colombo Proposals on European Union, in: Common Marked Law Review, Vol. 20 (1983), pp. 657–699. See Neville-Jones, id., p. 660 who writes: ‘This was destined to be the single most contentious issue which more than anything else held up adoption of the Act by a full year.’
A central point in this plan is the European Political Cooperation (EPC) that was elaborated in the Luxembourg Rapport 1970, the Copenhagen Rapport 1973 and the London Rapport 1981.
— See Eric Stein, The European Community in 1983: A less Perfect Union?, Common Marked Law Review, Vol. 20 (1983), pp. 641–656, 651–652; European Political Cooperation (EPC) as a Component of the European Foreign Affairs System, ZaöRV Vol. 42 (1983), pp. 49 ff. See EA 1982/2, pp. 45 ff.
The EPC, which was called in the London Rapport 1981 a central factor of the member states’ foreign policies, is an obvious parallel to Abbé de Saint-Pierre’s idea of a supranational governmental concertation, be it restricted to foreign policy. That the EPC can be developed into a true political union is subject to doubt, first because it has no normative function, and second because the important sector of a common defense policy for the European Union was from the start excluded.
— See Eric Stein, The European Community in 1983 (1983), p. 651: ‘E.P.C. is not a part of the community system, but it is closely linked to it through what one might call, a ‘personal union.’ The E.P.C. has no normative foundation.’ Paragraph I. B. 1, p. 13 of the Tindemans Memo.
A political will to extend the range of what might be called high-level political partying is certainly not enough to bring about what is the most badly needed in present-day Europe: a common defense strategy and a concisely elaborated, unified foreign policy.
To repeat it, the invasion of Iraq showed where we are heading if Europe is not to become a true political union that forms an important democratic power block in 21st century world politics.
The Constitutional Model
Already during the foundation of the Montan Union, 1951–1952 there were negotiations for a later European Defense Community (EDC) and in that draft convention was foreseen that the Congress of that organization was given the competence for drafting a first European Constitution.
In an ad-hoc meeting a first draft for such a constitution was elaborated. However, as the EDC failed to be ratified by the French parliament, a unification of the national defense policies became obsolete.
A later attempt to unify national defense strategies contained in the so-called Fouchet-Plans (1963) failed as well, perhaps because of lacking vision regarding the need to elaborate a common defense policy.
But we still face a much more general question, which is, how to build a true European Union as a politically functional organism, and doing this without incorporating the unification of internal, external and defense politics? I think it must estrange any honest fighter for the European cause that unfortunately none of these crucial concerns was contained in the Foundation of a European Union of February 14, 1984.
— See EA 1984, pp. 209 ff.
While in Part Four of the chart, an independent economic policy of the union is announced, none of the subsequent articles, especially Article 47, contains detailed provisions to this effect. What this draft thus represents is a blank paper convention with nothing to even slightly modify the status quo.
Instead of a common foreign policy, Article 64 enumerates as ‘common action areas’ only domains that anyway are within the competence of the EEC. Instead of a unified defense policy, Article 68 only contains a chewing-gum provision that says that ‘the European Council can extent common action also for questions of foreign policy.’
A European Constitution?
We can thus conclude that historically two different models have been drafted that were elaborated for bringing about a European Union or European Republic, a constitutional model and an integrational model.
The constitutional model foresaw the creation of a European Constitution through some sort of concerted, unified and legislative action of the European sovereigns that resulted in a supranational government (Abbé de Saint-Pierre, Rousseau, Kant) or a European Parliament (Saint-Simon), conceding independence and sovereignty to this new organization in the general interest of all European member states and under the restriction of national interests.
The integrational model projects a federal Europe being brought about through a dynamic, phased process from a pan-European conference until the final step of a pan-European republic. This model, as I mentioned it already, was elaborated by Coudenhove-Kalergi, while the idea was already present with Saint-Simon.
In all peace proposals, a parliamentarian and republican political system was seen as an important ‘in-group landmark’ and condition for preparing the ‘out-group achievement’ of a supranational confederation in which all member states would restrict their sovereignty to a certain extent so as to grant independence and sovereignty to the new confederative legal and administrative body.
This idea is of such high impact that it goes like a red thread through all European politics until this very day. In fact, all present-day European integration projects are to be retraced to this tradition and historical parallel. European law experts agree about Article 237 of the EEC Charta containing an unwritten condition for the admission of new members: they must comply with the requirement of a parliamentary democratic constitutional system that however can also be formed as a constitutional monarchy.
— See Werner Meng in: Groeben/Boeckh/Thiesing/Ehlermann, Kommentar zum EWG-Vertrag (1983), §237, 23.
As a matter of fact, Article 2 of the Draft Convention of the European Parliament for a European Political Union requires more than Article 237 of the EEC contract in that only a ‘democratic European state’ can apply for membership in the union.
— EA 1984, pp. 209 ff.
The discussion goes until our very days what the precise requirements are of that unwritten republican clause and they have been a part of the heated public debate about Turkey’s anticipated membership.
— See Meinhard Hilf, Die rechtliche Bedeutung des Verfassungsprinzips der parlamentarischen Demokratie für den europäischen Integrationsprozess, EuR 1984, p. 9 ff.
The details of this principle that it is valid as an unwritten addendum to Article 237 EEC contract are not controversial. As Nicolaysen pointed out:
Doubts are not possible regarding the founding principles of the union’s constitution: they can in Western Europe only be based upon democratic and civil rights; in addition, this constitution can in fact only be a republican one.
— Gert Nicolaysen, Vom Beruf zur Verfassunggebung in Europa — Fragestellungen zu einem Thema, EuR 1984, pp. 94–97, at 96. (Translation mine)
When we look at the present-day attempts to bring about a European Union through drafting a European Constitution, and compare these endeavors with the historical projects for bringing about peace and stability in Europe, we quickly recognize that we are looking in a simulation cabinet. What is presented with lots of pomp, glamour, power display and media coverage is in fact blindfolding the masses about a political reality in today’s Europe I would qualify as ‘stagnation’ because the integrational dynamics appear to be regressing below a standard we have achieved about fifteen years ago.
I have tried to show that drafts and papers to bring about a true political union have deceived the public point by point since the Luxemburg Compromise of 1966 in that they did not contain one single of the founding constitutional elements we have seen present in all historical convention drafts.
To speak of a real European Union, simply because the original EEC now has not only six, but more than forty members, is another way to blindfold the media-hypnotized masses about the fact that surely in a sandbox of forty, litigations are going to be much more difficult, and not easier, to realize than in a sandbox of six.
And to even dream of ideas being realized in a gigantic Europe of forty which were not realized in an initial Europe of six borders journalistic and political eye-wiping. From this perspective, it looks rather as Utopia than future reality to consider ‘The United States of Europe’ as a full political union being realized anywhere in the near future.
As a matter of fact, and as a bitter note to conclude this chapter, the only thing that was realized without problem for the greater Europe was the following:
- The creation of a supranational European police force called EUROPOL;
- Concerted action of all members to increasingly spy out and control citizens by lowering civil rights and constitutional guarantees;
- Concerted action of all members to create a common ID card for all European citizens that allows police and paramilitary forces to control and persecute individuals beyond national borders.
Nothing, by contrast, was foreseen and agreed upon that enlarges or safeguards civil rights and guarantees for new member states; the only advantages, then, it seems, for new members to join the union are of a mere financial nature.
No big deal after so much ado about nothing!
However, the European law expert will not for that matter give up being positive about a final success of the European unification idea; what was eye-wiping has been recognized as such; the intelligent, educated and critical European citizen intuitively knows that the media images cannot be trusted.
Beyond the perspective one can gain from politics, with all its absurdities, the expert knows that the real progress of the European idea was largely the long-term insistence upon integration, as an incremental and step-by-step process.
Personally, I am a believer in the integration idea because I have known the details and studied and practiced European law for a good time. My mistrust in the constitutionalist idea is because the door is wide open, with that kind of idea, for political cunningness, media manipulation and lobbyism until outright media bluff.
Nothing in our world that involves large masses of people and a change of the political landscape is created overnight, by publishing a decorated ‘Constitution’ that propagates the best for all, in no time, and for no price to pay, like the proverbial manna falling from heaven.
This is something good for the rainbow press, but not for those who, like myself, know the intricate details of the process. To say, the European idea is not dead, it’s still very much alive, but it’s better put in the hands of the generally invisible crowd of legal experts, advisors, administrators, and judges than in the white gloves of our glamorous politicians and their blind followers.
On the surface level, Europe 2012 will probably not be much different from Europe 2008, and for insiders and academia this is not something to regret. The transitions we are living through in this moment and over the next twenty years are of such a grandeur, of such a revolutionary impact, and of such a daringness that we cannot reasonably expect them to happen overnight, nor to be effected and carried out without hurt or sacrifices.
On the surface, changes seem to be nonexistent when in reality the time factor is such that slowness makes for steadiness; behind the veil of public appearance, where change is incremental and slow, true progress is being made.
This slowness of progress is not a bad thing to happen, by the way. All solid progress is slow, look only at plants, not to talk about the time from the big bang until today or the time our human race needed to emerge on the globe.
When you look at a plant or a tree, you get the feeling that nothing is growing, or changing, and this is, as we all know, a wrong perception. When you see a tree that is a few hundred years old or a giant tortoise whose age can be up to three thousand years, you get an idea of the fact that time is relative and that for trees and giant tortoises, time is certainly different than for humans.
How can we predict how much time ‘it should take’ to transform a world of unfreedom, violence and rampant injustice into a world of freedom, of peace, of justice and of respect for all sentient beings? All religions have speculated about this important question, but at the end, when you have studied all this, and look at the present world, you become rather down-to-earth in your approach and you feel that such speculations really lead nowhere. What however contributes to change, and what progresses the change agenda, is positive thinking and consistency in upholding a vision and the values connected to it!
Many intelligent world citizens today have this vision and are lucidly aware of the necessary values behind this vision, and there is consensus about the core values of a functional and smooth society that is able to be of assistance to human progress, instead of opposing human progress.
These values are obvious, they are so basic as values can be basic; we live in a world that is upside-down in every respect: there is war, strife, hunger, violence, and oppression, globally, and all this is not normal, and not in the genetic program of the human race.
To bring about peace, we need to focus on the simple human values that virtually every child knows and instinctively follows, and which are love, respect, freedom, understanding of our needs, and help and support for those in growth, and those in need, and this without regard to race, ethnic belonging, culture, family background, or language.
All problems can be solved, provided there is a will, but this will is lacking in our present societies because the political priority is not problem-solving but problem administration.
There are many people, among them many politicians, who earn more money with administrating our worldwide problems than they would earn by solving them. Our endeavor for transforming present society is motivated and fueled by the idea of establishing a world government as the safer solution compared to a bunch of highly armed nation states who share in a scarcity paradigm, fighting for ‘survival resources,’ thus jeopardizing world peace, and who, by their endless insistence on ‘national values’, in truth defy human values. The struggle for ‘quick solutions’ loses its attractiveness when you consider the bigger agenda and its ultimate purpose, world peace.
And applying the wisdom of the Book of Changes, the I Ching, we know that hastening growth regularly ‘destroys the fruit.’ Timeless wisdom and the observation of living systems coincide in affirming that every true and solid growth needs time, and that often, with larger projects, the time needed is very difficult to predict in advance.
The model, if ever, for building a united world, is not the United States but will be the United States of Europe, once they are realized. And this for very tangible reasons.
The United States of America, at the time of their creation were a quite homogenous structure compared to Europe, which is rather heterogenous. In addition, psychologically, the United States were new land, and the settlers were in quite the same situation, facing novelty, and thereby forming a common purpose, in alignment with their very similar needs and visions.
In Europe, every country has a different history and a still more strikingly different culture. To look at the three ‘classical’ examples, to show their essential difference in lifestyle, take Germany, France and Italy. Three countries, so different in cultural background, lifestyle and personal habits, so different in the culinary sector, so different in spending habits, so different in marriage and family attitudes and the education of children, and then you want to bring them under one hat, and let one government decide about their future?!
— See already the daring cultural study by German art historian A.E. Brinckmann, Geist der Nationen: Italiener, Franzosen, Deutsche, Hamburg: Hoffmann & Campe, 1943, in which he, much against the reigning Zeitgeist, tries to assess the cultural characteristics that unite Italians, French, and Germans, rather than pointing to those that make for conflict between these nations.
It’s really an idea hostile to most European nationals, in their quality as nationals, in their role as Germans, French and Italians, while a lesser hostile idea in their role as Europeans. And it’s exactly to what extent they accept their fresh ‘European’ identity that the whole idea is going to work, or is not going to work in the long run.
And it’s for that and other reasons that the testing arena for a possible world unification is not the USA but the USE, namely when we have mastered the challenge to get to look over our national fences, as these fences used to be high and opaque.