A United States of Europe?
Twitter was alive yesterday with speculation that a ‘United States of Europe’ had been declared on the sly. People who know my politics, and know I am a committed Europhile can imagine my excitement on hearing this news. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really true, what is being proposed is a long-way short of full political union. However, it is a clear step along that road – it is not hard to imagine how the ‘economic governance’ that both France and Germany seem to want will soon extend into the political sphere.
The real thrust of the proposals is to establish French and German hegemony over the process of European integration. In the long run, this might well mean a smaller but more tightly knit Union. It is quite clear that German capitalism, in particular is getting royally ticked-off at having to continually bail-out the likes of Greece and this is another driving force behind closer integration. This is being made an especially pressing concern by the fact that the German economy is starting to grow at a sluggish pace.
Meanwhile, over here I suspect they will be welcome for these proposals from both George Osborne and Ed Balls, albeit for different reasons. Osborne and the Conservatives would doubtless welcome this because it finally lances the boil of Europe. Britain can remain the fringes in the second-tier of; allowing Britain in his eyes to essentially cherry-pick Europe’s best bits without getting too involved. Balls, who I credit with more economic sense than Osborne, realises that if Europe sinks then it will have a huge detrimental effect on the British economy (to be fair, Osborne might be dimly aware of this too).
So, what should the left do about it? Well it’s quite that further European intergration is going to be done in a totally undemocratic and unaccountable way, so we need to address that. However, part of that is putting forward a programme for full political integration but on democratic, as opposed to bureaucratic terms. This would include demands such as:-
- A European President elected by the entire citizenry of the Union using universal suffrage
- Full legislative powers to the European Parliament,elected on a similar basis
- A radical curtailment and democratic reform of the European Commission
- An end to national vetoes and a similar curtailment and reform of the Council of Ministers
- An end to fiscal austerity and the construction of a social Europe.
It is not surprising that people feel isolated and alienated from the European project given its current structure. However, the creation of a United States of Europe remains a progressive project and the left should be fighting to shape it’s direction, not roll back it’s frontiers in favour of petty and backward looking nationalism which is, as we speak, already being consigned to the dustbin of history.