Thursday, 28 April 2005

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's calls for an Eu Federal State, Government and Constitution


Excerpts from the official English translation of the speech by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer at the Humboldt University, Berlin,on Friday 12 May 2000, on the theme: “From Confederacy to Federation – Thoughts on the finality of European integration”

“Fifty years on, Europe, the process of European integration, is probably the biggest political challenge facing the states and peoples involved, because its success or failure, indeed even just the stagnation of this process of integration, will be of crucial importance to the future of each and every one of us, but especially to the future of the young generation. And it is this process of European integration that is now being called into question by many people; it is viewed as a bureaucratic affair run by a faceless, soulless Eurocracy in Brussels – at best boring, at worst dangerous. . .

” – In Maastricht one of the three essential sovereign rights of the modern nation-state – currency, internal security and external security – was for the first time transferred to the sole responsibility of a European institution. The introduction of the euro was not only the crowning-point of economic integration, it was also a profoundly political act, because a currency is not just another economic factor but also symbolizes the power of the sovereign who guarantees it. A tension has emerged between the communitarization of economy and currency on the one hand and the lack of political and democratic structures on the other, a tension which might lead to crises within the EU if we do not take productive steps to make good the shortfall in political integration and democracy, thus completing the process of integration.

“- The European Council in Tampere marked the beginning of a new far-reaching integration project, namely the development of a common area of justice and internal security, making the Europe of the citizens a tangible reality. But there is even more to this new integration project: common laws can be a highly integrative force.

“- It was not least the war in Kosovo that prompted the European states to take further steps to strengthen their joint capacity for action on foreign policy, agreeing in Cologne and Helsinki on a new goal: the development of a Common Security and Defence Policy. With this the Union has taken the next step following the euro. For how in the long term can it be justified that countries inextricably linked by monetary union and by economic and political realities do not also face up together to external threats and together maintain their security?

“- Agreement was also reached in Helsinki on a concrete plan for the enlargement of the EU. With these agreements the external borders of the future EU are already emerging. It is foreseeable that the European Union will have 27, 30 or even more members at the end of the enlargement process, almost as many as the CSCE at its inception. . .

“Enlargement will render imperative a fundamental reform of the European institutions. Just what would a European Council with thirty heads of state and government be like? Thirty presidencies? How long will Council meetings actually last? Days, maybe even weeks? How, with the system of institutions that exists today, are thirty states supposed to balance interests, take decisions and then actually act? How can one prevent the EU from becoming utterly intransparent, compromises from becoming stranger and more incomprehensible, and the citizens’ acceptance of the EU from eventually hitting rock bottom?

“Question upon question, but there is a very simple answer: the transition from a union of states to full parliamentarization as a European Federation, something Robert Schuman demanded 50 years ago. And that means nothing less than a European Parliament and a European government which really do exercise legislative and executive power within the Federation. This Federation will have to be based on a constituent treaty. . .

“A European Parliament must therefore always represent two things: a Europe of the nation-states and a Europe of the citizens. This will only be possible if this European Parliament actually brings together the different national political elites and then also the different national publics.

“In my opinion, this can be done if the European Parliament has two chambers. One will be for elected members who are also members of their national parliaments. Thus there will be no clash between national parliaments and the European parliament, between the nation-state and Europe. For the second chamber a decision will have to be made between the Senate model, with directly-elected senators from the member states, and a chamber of states along the lines of Germany’s Bundesrat. In the United States, every state elects two senators; in our Bundesrat, in contrast, there are different numbers of votes.

“Similarly, there are two options for the European executive, or government. Either one can decide in favour of developing the European Council into a European government, i.e. the European government is formed from the national governments, or – taking the existing Commission structure as a starting-point – one can opt for the direct election of a president with far-reaching executive powers. But there are also various other possibilities between these two poles. . . “The division of sovereignty between the Union and the nation-states requires a constituent treaty which lays down what is to be regulated at European level and what has still to be regulated at national level. The majority of regulations at EU level are in part the result of inductive communitarization as per the “Monnet method” and an expression of inter-state compromise within today’s EU. There should be a clear definition of the competences of the Union and the nation-states respectively in a European constituent treaty, with core sovereignties and matters which absolutely have to be regulated at European level being the domain of the Federation, whereas everything else would remain the responsibility of the nation-states. This would be a lean European Federation, but one capable of action, fully sovereign yet based on self-confident nation-states, and it would also be a Union which the citizens could understand, because it would have made good its shortfall on democracy. . . “These three reforms – the solution of the democracy problem and the need for fundamental reordering of competences both horizontally, i.e. among the European institutions, and vertically, i.e. between Europe, the nation-state and the regions – will only be able to succeed if Europe is established anew with a constitution. In other words: through the realization of the project of a European constitution centred around basic, human and civil rights, an equal division of powers between the European institutions and a precise delineation between European and nation-state level. The main axis for such a European constitution will be the relationship between the Federation and the nation-state. Let me not be misunderstood: this has nothing whatsoever to do with a return to renationalisation, quite the contrary. . .

“The question which is becoming more and more urgent today is this: can this vision of a Federation be achieved through the existing method of integration, or must this method itself, the central element of the integration process to date, be cast into doubt?

“In the past, European integration was based on the “Monnet method” with its communitarization approach in European institutions and policy. This gradual process of integration, with no blueprint for the final state, was conceived in the 1950s for the economic integration of a small group of countries. Successful as it was in that scenario, this approach has proved to be of only limited use for the political integration and democratization of Europe. Where it was not possible for all EU members to move ahead, smaller groups of countries of varying composition took the lead, as was the case with Economic and Monetary Union and with Schengen . . .

“That is why Jacques Delors, Helmut Schmidt and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing have recently tried
to find new answers to this dilemma. Delors’ idea is that a “federation of nation-states”, comprising the six founding states of the European Community, should conclude a “treaty within the treaty” with a view to making far-reaching reforms in the European institutions. Schmidt and Giscard’s ideas are in a similar vein, though they place the Euro-11 states at the centre, rather than just the six founding states. As early as 1994 Karl Lamers and Wolfgang Schäuble proposed the creation of a “core Europe”, but it was stillborn, as it were, because it presupposed an exclusive, closed “core”, even omitting the founding state Italy, rather than a magnet of integration open to all. . .

“One thing at least is certain: no European project will succeed in future either without the closest Franco-German cooperation. . .

“One possible interim step on the road to completing political integration could then later be the formation of a centre of gravity. Such a group of states would conclude a new European framework treaty, the nucleus of a constitution of the Federation. On the basis of this treaty, the Federation would develop its own institutions, establish a government which within the EU should speak with one voice on behalf of the members of the group on as many issues as possible, a strong parliament and a directly elected president. Such a centre of gravity would have to be the avant-garde, the driving force for the completion of political integration and should from the start comprise all the elements of the future federation.

“I am certainly aware of the institutional problems with regard to the current EU that such a centre of gravity would entail. That is why it would be critically important to ensure that the EU acquis is not jeopardized, that the union is not divided and the bond holding it together are not damaged, either in political or in legal terms. Mechanisms would have to be developed which permit the members of the centre of gravity to cooperate smoothly with others in the larger EU. . .

“The last step will then be completion of integration in a European Federation. Let’s not misunderstand each other: closer cooperation does not automatically lead to full integration, either by the centre of gravity or straight away by the majority of members. Initially, enhanced cooperation means nothing more than increased intergovernmentalization under pressure from the facts and the shortcomings of the “Monnet Method”. The steps towards a constituent treaty – and exactly that will be the precondition for full integration – require a deliberate political act to reestablish Europe. . .

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