Superpower Europe, the revolution of the EU

by prof.  Marc De Vos (UGhent) – Publisher: Ertsberg, 2023.

A short summary made by Robert Verschooten, political advisor to the Union of European Federalists (UEF-Belgium) – 12/2/2024.

 

Book’s resumé and convergence with UEF views

I read this book with great interest and have summarized it below. The book is richly illustrated with examples that support the reasoning, but did not get a place in this resumé. The author follows a consistent federal reasoning. Three relevant lines of tension are clearly and comprehensively explained. The logic of that reasoning is complementary to UEF.be’s reasoning. Points of difference and similarity are indicated below.

The author is an example of an elite that is able to spread this logic widely and convincingly. That elite of editorialists should be actively sought out and preferably involved in UEF action (Belgium and fellow travellers). To my knowledge, this book is only available in Dutch. This book, because of its three original and innovative theses, would best also be available in English in order to give it international recognition.  I will enquire and I would personally label this book as a ‘must read’.

Points of difference and convergence between prof. De Vos’ reasoning and UEF.be’ reasoning:

De Vos reasoning and main themes:

  • Three lines in the European Union can be acknowledged. The EU is becoming a closed geostrategical project instead of an open country; a superpower project instead of a post-modern peace project; a State project instead of a free-market one.
  • End goal: a (renewed) democratic, legitimized and federal state with a superpower strategy

with institutionalized rules of functioning.

  • For enlargement with very diverse candidates, he promotes gradual integration. UEF.be

reverts to concentric circles.

UEF.be reasoning and main themes:

  • EU legitimized by a federal constitution (European Parliament mandated to formulate it).
  • Goal: renewed democracy and legitimacy with citizen participation.
  • Means: federalism as a governance system.
  • UEF.be promotes a two-speed integration with different political ambitions.
  • A system to formulate the objectives of a renewed federal union.

Extracts (translated in English from the Dutch version of the book by Robert Verschooten)

The world order has tilted, so has the mission and position of the European Union. (…) In this book I document a real revolution of the European Union. We witness, in real time, but largely unnoticed in public opinion, the European Union is undergoing a historic transformation. (p.14)

Read more on this page: Extracts from the book

Manifeste pour des élections européennes plus démocratiques et plus européennes

Attribué à Jacques Louis David (1748-1825). “Le Serment du Jeu de Paume, le 20 juin 1789”. Huile sur toile. Paris, musée Carnavalet.

Pour des élections européennes de 2024 plus démocratiques

Une action commune en vue des élections au Parlement européen de 2024 s’impose pour rendre l’Europe plus forte, plus unie et plus démocratique, car en 73 ans, ni les Communautés, ni l’Union européenne (UE) n’ont donné le jour à la Fédération européenne annoncée le 9 mai 1950 par Robert Schuman. Les Européens pâtissent de l’absence de cette Fédération. Les États-nations et l’UE n’ont pu, depuis 2008, faire face aux crises financière, monétaire, migratoire, sanitaire et sécuritaire. Notre écosystème est en péril. La guerre fait rage en Ukraine, parce que l’Europe n’est pas une puissance dissuasive mais pacifique. Nous le payons économiquement et politiquement. Nous devons agir, d’urgence, pour rétablir la paix en Europe, pour redevenir souverains, autonomes, indépendants et respectés.

Un État européen démocratique, fédéral, requiert une constitution et non un traité. C’est évident depuis 1787 et la Convention de Philadelphie, car un traité est d’ordre externe à l’État et multilatéral, tandis qu’une constitution est un acte de droit public interne, unilatéral, qui vise à établir les droits fondamentaux des citoyens, les principes sur lesquels repose la légitimité du pouvoir politique et l’architecture générale des institutions. Une constitution est au sommet de la hiérarchie des normes étatiques.

C’est pourquoi Avenir de l’Europe, Associazione Mazziniana Italiana, Citoyen d’Europe M3E (Europe, éthique, équité), Europe Unie dans sa Diversité, Europa-Union – Kreis Heilbronn, l’Union des Européens fédéralistes (UEF) – Groupe Europe, UEF-Belgium, UEF in the Czech Republic, UEF-Luxembourg, la Société européenne de défense en Europe centrale et orientale (S€DCEE) et la Société européenne de défense AISBL (S€D), vous proposent de joindre vos forces aux nôtres pour concrétiser le présent manifeste. Celui-ci propose ce que devrait faire l’Europe fédérale pour les citoyens européens, le financement de ses politiques, la gouvernance fédérale et la méthode pour rendre le Parlement européen constituant et légitime.

Que ferait l’Europe fédérale pour les citoyens européens ?

Seule une Fédération européenne peut être efficace et efficiente en matière de sécurité extérieure, y compris la défense, de sécurité intérieure, face au terrorisme, de santé publique, face aux pandémies, de sécurité d’approvisionnement en énergie, de protection de l’environnement, de gestion des mouvements migratoires. Elle seule peut développer la culture européenne et garantir le maintien d’une économie sociale de marché. Elle seule peut veiller à l’avenir des nouvelles générations, par la promotion de l’innovation, le soutien à la recherche scientifique et technologique, la réindustrialisation et la maîtrise des technologies émergentes, dont l’intelligence artificielle, l’informatique quantique, les nouvelles solutions énergétiques, les technologies vertes.

Comment ces politiques seraient-elles financées ?

La Fédération européenne devra disposer de ressources propres, fondées sur une fiscalité innovante, égalitaire. Les multinationales, notamment celles du secteur numérique, ne doivent plus échapper à l’impôt. Cela permettrait de financer les politiques précitées et en outre de mener une politique budgétaire qui puisse conforter la politique monétaire menée avec succès par la Banque centrale européenne.

Comment la gouvernance fédérale se définirait-elle ?

Nous voulons un État européen démocratique, transparent, souverain, autonome, indépendant, respecté par ses alliés et par les autres puissances. Ni l’intégration au sein de l’UE, ni la coopération dans le cadre de l’OTAN n’ont pu établir un État européen capable de nous garantir la paix et la sécurité. L’histoire montre que les confédérations soit se transforment en fédérations, soit se dissolvent. Pour peser dans le monde, pour faire face aux menaces et aux défis actuels, il reste à l’Europe la voie de la fédération. L’Assemblée constituante choisira la dénomination de la fédération et définira les domaines de compétences, dans le respect du principe de subsidiarité, pour maintenir la souveraineté du peuple et l’équilibre entre la fédération et les pouvoirs nationaux et régionaux.

Comment le Parlement européen se déclarerait-il constituant ?

Pour fonder un État européen souverain et démocratique, uni dans sa diversité, donc fédéral, la méthode est connue depuis le 7 septembre 1787, à Philadelphie. Les délégués des États américains ont alors adopté la toute première constitution fédérale. Elle commence par les mots « We, the people » (Nous, le Peuple). Elle sépare les pouvoirs législatif, exécutif et judiciaire. Le pouvoir législatif est bicaméral. La chambre basse est élue au suffrage direct, les citoyens de chaque État étant représentés proportionnellement à leur nombre. Au Sénat les États sont à égalité. De ces principes, l’Europe peut s’inspirer, pour nous maintenir en paix et en sécurité, pour garantir nos libertés et nos droits fondamentaux, pour retrouver la place qui lui revient sur la scène internationale eu égard à sa puissance économique et à la civilisation européenne !

Comment le Parlement européen pourrait-il améliorer sa légitimité ?

De préférence avant les élections de 2024, le Parlement européen devrait adopter une loi électorale fixant notamment l’âge auquel tout citoyen européen acquiert le droit de vote, ainsi que le seuil électoral, la manière de voter et un critère assurant une représentation suffisamment égalitaire, démocratique, des citoyens.

Manifesto in other languages:

BG EE FR HU NO MD
CZ EN GE IT PL RU
DE ES GR LV PT SE
DK FI HR NL RO

 

Image: Serment du Jeu de paume, le 20 juin 1789

Artist: Jacques-Louis David

Source:Wikipedia

UEF Congress Brussels, November 2023 - Group Photo. In this picture: UEF President - MEP Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Lucian Alexandru Onisei - UEF Belgium

REPORT OF THE XXVIII UEF EUROPEAN CONGRESS, BRUSSELS, 25-26 NOVEMBER 2023

The UEF would like to thank the distinguished guests who took the time to participate in the Congress.
For the greetings: Hans-Gert Pöttering (LINK VIDEO) Former President of the European Parliament (2007-2009), President of the House of European History, Petros Fassoulas Secretary General of the European Movement International, Christelle Savall, President of Young European Federalists and Fernando Iglesias President of the World of Federalist Movement. In particular, we thank  Josep Borrell High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, that have taken a time to follow the works of the first session of the Congress.

EUROPEAN CONGRESS, BRUSSELS, 25-26 NOVEMBER 2023

Then during the political debate the interventions of Raúl Santiago Fuentes (Representative of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU), and the MEPs Brando Benifei, Rainer WielandAlin MitutaCyrus EngererMercedes BressoPietro Bartolo, and Thijs Reuten and the former European Parliament President Enrique Barón Crespo.

Towards the European elections - 25 November 2023, Brussels

The five co-rapporteurs of the Report for the amendment of the treaties sent a pre-recorded video:

  • Guy Verhofstadt LINK
  • Sven Simon LINK
  • Gabriele Bischoff LINK
  • Daniel Freund LINK
  • Helmut Scholz LINK

The delegates debated the challenges for the future of the European Union and exchanged opinions and ideas on the way forward for the Federalist movement and the European project.

The UEF Secretariat presented its activities for the 2021-2023 period (LINK HERE for report political activities), and Roland Hühn, Treasurer ad interimpresented the financial situation of the association LINK HEREGiulia Rossolillo introduced the statutory changes required to transform the UEF from a Netherlands-based NGO to a Belgian-based Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif (AISBL). These changes were approved by the Congress. You can find the new statutes here (in English and French).
For more information on the change of seat of the UEF, please refer to the web page of the Congress.

The Secretariat hosted a workshop on the UEF strategy for the 2024 European elections. Here the presentation of the workshop (LINK). Due to time constraints, it was decided to postpone the discussions at a later meeting.
Therefore, the UEF invites all the delegates and the representatives of its sections to a meeting on 14 December (link to participate here).

Meena Fernandes, Policy analyst at the European Parliament Research Service, presented the results of the study on the costs of non-Europe. You can find the research paper here and the slide deck here.
Finally, it was announced that an extraordinary Federal Committee meeting (20 January, online) would call for an extraordinary Congress meeting for the Spring 2024 to revise the statutes of the association to draw new rules for the Secretary-General and make it a full-time professional. More information will follow.

Political message by the UEF President, Domènec Ruiz Devesa

UEF President, Domènec Ruiz DevesaDear Federalist friends,

Just a few words from me before I leave you with this communication on the Congress that has just taken place.
First of all, let me thank you for the trust you have shown me by electing me as UEF President. It is an honour for me, as well as a great responsibility, because I am and feel first and foremost a federalist activist, who is currently in the institutions, but who lives the federalist commitment as his own priority, and in this sense also feels the relationship with the UEF.

These two years ahead of us will be important years to consolidate our organisation and find the right financial and administrative balance. They will be even more important politically, because they can be decisive for our Europe in taking the crucial steps towards a federal Union.

Our congress took place just three days after the approval by the European Parliament of the proposal to reform the treaties, the first one since the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007, the first attempt at reforming the treaty in more than 15 years. We know the process that made it possible to arrive at this vote, through the Conference on the Future of Europe in which we participated directly; and we also know that it is a great opportunity, the only one today, and the first after 40 years since Altiero Spinelli’s Draft Treaty, to realise the federal Europe.

Today, therefore, while we are committed to building a broad and widespread campaign in view of the European elections, we urgently need to mobilise ourselves for the success of the next step, i.e. the decision of the European Council in favour of launching a Convention to elaborate the reform of the Treaties. We have urged the Spanish Presidency to immediately transmit the European Parliament resolution to the European Council and asked to President Charles Michel to put it in the agenda of the European Council of the 15th of December, although resistance from national governments will probably force a postponement. Here it is very important the role of the national sections to involve their national parliaments and urge the governments to be in favour of the opening of the Convention. The letter signed by me as UEF President and Sandro Gozi as Chair of the Spinelli Group has just been sent (LINK), together with the Manifesto we approved in our Congress; and here (LINK) you can find a draft resolution to propose to your national parliaments, to launch the mobilization.

We have a very important job to do. I thank you once more very much for all your work, commitment and dedication in federalism. I am convinced that we will work together with confidence and commitment over the next two years, and that together we can make a positive difference in order to meet the challenge of federal Europe. And since it’s a long process, by definition the best has always yet to come.


Result of the Elections

All bodies of the UEF found their members, all elected unanimously in an open ballot. Congratulations to newly elected and returning members of the following bodies:

  • Executive Bureau
    • President: Domènec Ruiz Devesa
    • Vice-Presidents: Markus Ferber, Alin Mituta, Giulia Rossilollo
    • Treasurer ad interim: Roland Hûhn
    • Secretary-General ad interim: Luisa Trumellini
    • Other EB members: Antonio Argenziano, Rafael Bez, François Leray, Daphne Gogou, François Mennerat, Eszter Nagy, Alejandro Peinado Garcia, and Wolfgang Wettach.
    • ex-officio member of the EB: Christelle Savall, President of the Young European Federalists
  • For the Arbitration Board:  Ugo Ferruta, Daniel Frey, Marianne Huhn, Andreu Iranzo Navarro, Peter Osten, Stefano Spoltore, Daniela White.
  • For the Federal Committee:
    • Directly-elected Federal Committee members: Matilde Ceron, Aldecoa Francisco, Nikos Giannis, Angel Landabaso, Eva Lichtenberger, Jean Marsia, Hervè Moritz, Olalla Pastor del Valle, Luis Miguel Periza, Kati Sista, Flavia Gabriela Sandu
    • Nominated members, the list is in the process of being completed LINK

Source: https://federalists.eu/report-of-the-xxviii-uef-european-congress-brussels-25-26-november-2023/ 

Extracts: Superpower Europe, the revolution of the EU

Extracts (translated in English from the Dutch version of the book by Robert Verschooten)

The world order has tilted, so has the mission and position of the European Union. (…) In this book I document a real revolution of the European Union. We witness, in real time, but largely unnoticed in public opinion, the European Union is undergoing a historic transformation. (p.14)

The new European Union shares with the United States a geopolitical, industrial, technological and military mission tailored to a new world order with superpower conflict. (…) An evolution that changes the identity and balance of the European Union itself and that requires a new understanding among its member states. (p. 15)

That new environment represents a strategic evolution for the European Union, which has revolutionized the way it thinks and acts. (p.20)

I identify three fault lines in the evolution of Europe and of the European Union:

  • The European Union is becoming a closed geostrategical project – rather than an open country community.
  • The European Union is becoming a superpower project – rather than a post-modern peace project.
  • The European Union is becoming a state project – rather than a free-market project.

These three fault lines are still in gestation.  (p.22)

European Union enlargement was an external dynamic aimed at broadening European community building. Now that has been reversed: enlargement is an internal European question about the European Union’s strategic geographical position in the world.  (p.26)

A layered membership has long been implemented, separating European economic integration from political integration. The European Union has long been experimenting with various degrees of flexible integration. (p.28)

A layered European Union maximizes Europe’s geostrategical weight in the world. (p. 30) In order to be geostrategical, the European Union must be institutionally flexible. (p. 31) ( . . . ) the European Union must be able to handle variations and degrees of European integration that adapt to a greater diversity of candidate member states. (p. 31). If we want countries like Moldova, Albania or Serbia in the European sphere, the European Union’s offer must evolve into much more than a combination of market, sustainability, democracy and money. (…) or some variant of it, perhaps less in the areas of economy, ecology and democracy, but certainly more in other, more geopolitical and strategic areas.  (p.32)

Against its will, the European Commission, (…) has deliberately evolved from a technocratic bureaucracy for market dynamics and free trade agreements into an overtly geopolitical Commission. (p.44)

The European Union is naturally becoming a geopolitical power union as it has to fill its long-standing economic role in a new hostile world where economics is the extension of hard power and vice versa. This evolution is proceeding at breakneck speed. (p. 46)

The internal federalization of the European Union as a nascent power union is the common response of EU member states to the external world that demands Europe be a power bloc. (…) Without a power union, the hostile world as a centrifugal force would tear apart cohesion among European countries in a compromise of national interests. Both our values and interests require a strong Europe. (…) First, I want to name what Europe must additionally achieve in order to be and remain itself in this new global power reality: a strong, internationally focused and therefore necessary European military capability. (p.52)

The historical division between the economic European Union and military NATO is no longer relevant. A European Union that continues to ignore and delegate military power cannot fulfil its mission in economy, technology or energy with the necessary autonomy. (p.54)

The European Union has managed to transcend national interest by providing what the European nation-state either could not, or should not do without threatening the European Union itself. (…) When there is a crisis in Europe, the European Union is always part of the answer. As a result, the European Union has continued to grow as an autonomous state actor, as a protofederal state entity that organically and in shocks sucks up national sovereignty and approaches ever closer to the fait accompli of an EU state.

The division of roles between member states and the European Union is blurring and tilting towards European federalization, without the constitutional set-up of the European Union itself having evolved along with it from bureaucratic or institutional processes to democratic federal decision-making. (p.69) (…) The impotence of democratic national politics paradoxically gives much space and power to the technocratic politics of the European Union. (p.70)

When the European Union needs decisiveness, speed and dirigisme of an actual state, there is no escaping its protofederal administration that is the Commission. (p.70)

The role shift towards the state in the European Union goes far beyond the intersection between economy and power under the pressure of world order. The primacy of geostrategy and and geopolitics in the European Union implies the primacy of politics on the market in Europe. (…) The European Union was a bastion of the free market, but it is becoming a bastion of state intervention and politicization. (p.71)

The DNA of the new European Union tilts from market capitalism to state capitalism where state control and state intervention rather than market forces are central.

In the revolution of the European Union, the single market is retrieved as an economic reality for a fundamental paradigm shift: as a lever for revival, industrial and climate policy on a European scale. (…) The shift from market to state (…) from decentralized competition to central planning, from state neutrality to state interference and state activism, has fundamental consequences for the governance of the European Union and for member states. (…) When the European Union trades the market for the state, it becomes a platform that fosters economic and financial competition between member states, that generalizes market competition between companies and gives market status to those companies specifically mobilized as extensions of political agendas. (p.90)

A free market is compatible with diversity and democratic, political and administrative culture among EU member states. The contrary means friction. (…) With a free market, Europe can serve all member states. (p.91) A free market is also compatible with power differentials between large and small countries, and between richer and poorer countries (…). European industrial policy and climate policy, on the other hand, inevitably collide with the reality that industrial and energy interests differ widely among member states, favouring or disadvantaging some member states much more than others. (p.91) It is with Europe’s waning fiscal standards as with waxing European industrial policy: objectively, they favour mainly large and strong countries. (p.94)

If we can continue to overcome political divisions, the European Union can take advantage of the revolution of our times to reinvent itself and thereby ensure once again what has always been the end goal of European unification: stronger, more prosperous and secure European countries. (p.98)

The European Union becomes a permanent balancing act between necessary scale and necessary sustainability capacity, a constant search for the interface where scale serves rather than prevents decisiveness. (…). European protectionism and subsidy policies indirectly increase national competition among member states. (p.104)

No one disputes that the functioning of the European Union lacks democratic transparency and accountability, and that the European Union fundamentally runs on the combination of bureaucratic technocracy and elite politics among diplomats and heads of government. (p. 110) The European Union is silently in stalemate with itself.  The Union (…) is quietly drifting away from democracy and the rule of law itself. (…). It is also and above all about how a European Union tilting towards federalism can find connection and legitimacy in what is the democratic underpinning of federalism: the separation of powers between the Union and the member states, the separation of powers at the European level, and the link between European political decision-making power and European democracy, in each case with constitutional guarantees. (p.111)

The systemic democratic deficit thus undermines not only the legitimacy but also the workability of the new European Union. Moreover, the current operating resources of the European Union and its funding model are by no means sufficient for the immense task of a geographically enlarged and geopolitical border and power union. (p.112) The new European Union risks getting bogged down in the tension between mission and capacity. (p.113)

The choice of a new European Union is the result of emergency politics under the external pressure of the polycrisis of our time. (…) It is an implicit, derivative and mainly reactive choice, not an explicit, principled or proactive one. (p.117)

The spectacular momentum of this new ‘passage to Europe’ on the wave of crisis should not blind us to the weaknesses in its foundations. The (r)evolution in the European Union is a cesura in the historical trajectory of European integration. (p. 118)

The new European Union must be careful not to lose touch with itself, its member states and the people of Europe. Besides manifestation, necessary and desirable in the face of crisis needs and the challenges of this century, deep contradictions generate big questions of legitimacy, about the balance between values and interests, between democracy and technocracy, between national sovereignty and European power, between EU mission and EU functioning, between market and state, and between member states themselves. The existential questions of the new European Union cannot be forever obliterated and ignored under the urgency of crisis policy and crisis management. (p.119)

If the Member States of the European Union can link institutional momentum to its strategic momentum, then the growing pains of the new European Union can be gradually absorbed and alleviated. The dynamics for this will be not only European but also international. (…). If the strategic transformation of the European Union is not properly institutionally anchored and supported within it, Europe risks being strategically very vulnerable to external events, to internal divisions or simply to mission overload. Moreover, its new mission makes the European Union the natural spearhead of Europe in the wider world (p.123).