3 February 2013
EUROPEAN FEDERALIST PARTY – ANALYSIS:
What Europe looks like after Cameron’s speech.
There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come – once wrote Victor Hugo – , and this idea is now clear: we need a more integrated and democratic Europe. David Cameron’s speech this week partially addressed an issue that has been at the fore of people’s minds in the UK for some time, notably, what will be the role of Britain in this new -more integrated – Europe.
From his speech it is clear that the British Prime Minister David Cameron hopes for a yes vote in a referendum that, in his eyes,should confirm the need for the repatriation of certain powers to the UK while maintaining a relationship under new conditions. In actual fact, however, the vote will be either confirming Cameron’s vision or leaving the EU all together. This is a false choice, it is presenting two options to a question that does not have only two answers.
It is clear to everybody, and also to the Prime Minister, that the financial crisis has shown the need for greater integration, and the Eurozone is the natural beacon of further integration. It is also clear that we are moving towards a “two-speeds Europe”. But this “two-speeds Europe” cannot degenerate into a “Europe à la Carte”. Where each contry asks for special provisions and applies only certain pieces of legislation. That would not be not viable. Those bilateral re-negotiations would destroy Europe. “As the world changes so rapidly, it does not make sense (as Pietro De Matteis, EFP co-President put it) for the EU to make concession to one country so that it agrees to the status quo. As the status quo itself is so volatile, what we risk is that five years after the referendum we are back to square one”.
We believe, like the prime minister, that we need, on the one hand, to reinforce a central core of Eurozone countries, a core that works under the principles of federalism.On the other hand, we also believe that there needs to be a free trade zone that includes those countries that are not yet ready for the federalist idea for Europe. The British people deserve better than just a single vote on a single treaty. They must have a clear voice in the development of Europe, of more democratic institutions that give them a clear voice on every European decision that affects them. Britain has a proud democratic tradition and the public expect this history to be honoured Cameron’s referendum asks for a decision to a false choice, a choice between his approved way of being part of the European family and not being part of it.
The British people need to be involved in a wider debate on their future in Europe. Such debate shall not focus just on one treaty, but on whether the British people wish to continue the path towards European integration or not. As history moves forwards policy will need to be made, and a single treaty cannot account for future events that will certainly push the process of European integration further.
The European Federalist Party believes that we cannot allow to have each state fighting for its own special provisions. On the contrary we need to work together to ensure that European Institutions are fully democratic and allow the citizens representatives to propose and decide policy.
Media information: The two co-presidents of the European Federalist Party can be contacted at:
Pietro De Matteis: pietro.dematteis at federalistparty.eu
Yves Gernigon: yves.gernigon at lesfederalistes.eu
The European Federalist Party (EFP) is the pan-European party for a more democratic, united and solidary Europe: a Europe of the people and for the people. The EFP was founded in 2011 in Paris by citizens from all over Europe and has since developed into a cross-border movement with thousands of members and supporters and chapters in 9 EU states. The EFP was instrumental in the introduction of several key laws and reforms in the EU, including improvements to the Lisbon treaty, the European Citizens’ Initiative and the EU roaming regulation.
23 January 2013
Europe after Cameron’s speech: the way towards the 2014 European Parliament elections
(by Pietro De Matteis*)
From today’s long awaited speech pronounced by David Cameron on the relation between Britain and the EU it is clear that the British Prime Minister hopes in a yes to a referendum that, in his eyes, should have two effects. On the one hand it should confirm the need for the “repatriation” of certain powers to the UK . On the other should allow him to keep the leadership of the Tories ahead of the next Parliamentary elections.
However there are at least three issues that need to be highlighted:
First of all, given the global scope of an increasing number of challenges – from climate change to international trade- , the “repatriation” of powers would likely translate into an actual loss of rights and influencew which are now enjoyed by the British citizens.
Secondly, it cannot be denied that the financial crisis has shown that Europe has to move in the opposite direction than what is now proposed by the British Prime Minister. Europe is now moving towards further integration. The decision taken today by 11 Member States to go ahead with a Financial Transaction Tax is only the last example.
It could be argued that it does not make sense to make concession to a country (already enjoying many opt-outs) so that it agrees to a status quo, if such a status quo itself is so volatile. What we risk is that five years after the referendum we are back to square one, and the people will start claiming again: “We did not vote for this!”. For this reason the referendum that should take place in the UK should not be about a new treaty or about the repatriation of some specific competences. The referendum should ask the British citizens if they want to continue to be at the heart of the process of European integration – which is inevitably leading towards further integration – or not.
Thirdly, a Europe á la carte is not viable. Too many exceptions are already in place. After the UK each country may wish to ask for special conditions to remain a member of the EU. Opening the Pandora’s box of such bilateral negotiations is unthinkable. It follows that after this speech, it is even clearer that the only way to move ahead is through a new European Convention on the future of Europe, and one of the products of such Convention should be to clarify which countries are in for a more integrated, democratic and federal Europe, and which are not. This new constitutional process should involve exclusively the citizens of those countries wishing to make a step further in the process of European integration. Those countries could be identified through a referendum that could be held at the same time of the next European Parliament Elections in each and every member state. Each citizen could have two ballot papers: one to vote for his/her MEP, and one to say if he/she agrees or not to further European integration.
Strengthened by a direct mandate from their citizens, the governments of those countries voting for further integration (and their MEPs) should then start the work on a new European Federal Constitution. Those instead opting for a looser form of cooperation in Europe could then join a new and enlarged European Free Trade Area.
In a few words, this is how Europe could look like in 2020.
* the views expressed here engage only the author