The United States of Europe: Our Way or the Highway Politics
It is not fiction, nor speculation. As awkward as the “United States of Europe” may sound, or as Orwellian as the “European superstate” brand may seem, the concept of the European federation is more than just a fantasy - it is a plan that is rooted within the reality of the current European Union system, states Thomas Hughes.
Essentially, it is the endeavour to unify Europe under one banner, as a sovereign entity governed by a central administration. In fact, this isn’t unlike how the EU already operates at the moment, seeing as its organisational construct does have distinct characteristics reminiscent of federalism. Akin to the structure of the United States of America, the concept of the United States of Europe entails that every constituent nation of the European Union would become a state as part of one country that is represented by the European federation.
Martin Schultz, the former leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, a member of the Bundestag - the German federal parliament, and the President of the European Parliament between 2012 and 2017, has called for an immersive integration of EU member states. At the end of 2017, he had clearly voiced his intention to officialise a constitutional treaty to establish the bloc into a federal entity, turning the speculation about the United States of Europe into potential reality. Whilst it is naught more than a suggestion at the moment, Schultz has already projected it for the year 2025, and set an ultimatum: “Those who are against it will simply leave the EU.”
This approach is nothing if not characteristic of how the European Commission rules over its subjects - it is our way, or the highway. Of course, on the surface, it is decorated with the most noble and selfless goals that would allegedly serve the best interest of European citizens. Proponents of a federal Europe may argue that the EU’s weakness is its lack of a centralised constitution, military, taxation system and common foreign policy. The absence of a single justice system that would allow the EU to hold trials separately from local courts, is presented as a deficiency, hindering the prosecution of corruption within individual member states. However, the countries have managed to do just fine without it by governing themselves, and most of the woes of crisis that have ravaged several constituent nations have been caused by the EU’s meddling in their economy more than their own shortcomings.
In fact, history itself would reveal that the EU’s encroachment upon its member states’ is uncompromising and smothering in nature. Its policies leave little room for adaptation when it comes to the individual countries in its roster. A look at the Lisbon Treaty would showcase just how adamant the bloc is when it comes to pushing its own agenda through. Under the pretext of greater democracy and increased efficiency of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon was enabled despite Ireland’s vote against it. The first Irish referendum held on 12 June 2008 had opposed the Treaty, yet it was discarded and followed by a second referendum on 2 October 2009, where the EU made sure to obtain the “Yes” vote. In similar fashion, the Dutch and the French have also experienced the bloc’s uncompromising will when their rejection of the Treaty Establishing A Constitution for Europe had been overturned.
The EU has no reservations when it comes to having its way and it vehemently pursues its campaign against an independent, sovereign Britain. Ever since the British people have voted in favour of regaining autonomy from the bloc, the EU has made no effort to hide its desire to disrupt Brexit and keep the UK within its grasp. Without any regard for the interests of those that do not serve its agenda, the EU actively strives to establish itself as a powerful superstate rather than the democratic coalition that it is advertised to be. The cover of an intermediary that facilitates communication, collaboration and trade hardly conceals the authoritarian rhetoric spearheaded by the European Parliament.
Unfortunately, in its endeavour to control its members, the EU is suffocating their progress and thus undermines its own advancement. Interfering with Brexit is not only undemocratic, but it also isolates the constituent nations and creates poor conditions for their economies to grow. In essence, the independence of the UK can only be an improvement for the nation, as well as the EU member states that do plenty of business with Britain. Sovereign and free from the suffocating grasp of the European Commission, European Parliament and the European Central Bank, the UK will be able to rekindle a competitive economy that is unhindered by irrelevant regulations currently imposed by the EU.
The UK is the fifth largest economy in the world and the second most important financial supporter of the Union, preceded only by Germany. In 2015, Britain contributed £12.9 billion to the Union, which went up to £13.1 billion the next year. Only a portion of these funds returns to the country as subsidies and grants, while the rest is syphoned into avenues that do little to serve Britain’s best interest. Paired to the independency of the pound sterling from the euro, the UK’s freedom to manage its own finances would prove most beneficial to the country’s economy and, consequently, to the European nations that conduct an important amount of their business with Britain.
THE GREAT BENEFITS OF AUTONOMY
The Brexit opposition likes to argue that the nation’s departure from the EU will result in considerable losses of trade opportunities as it leaves the EU’s single-market economy. That belief, however, is misguided, for Britain’s disassociation from the bloc will hardly damage its economy and restrict its business with other European countries. Whilst there most certainly is going to be a period of uncertainty during which the pound sterling will fall weaker against the euro, the exports that it will invigorate shall prove to be the foundation for a rapid and prosperous recovery. The UK will at last be able to negotiate free trade deals on its own accord - business opportunities that a subject of the European Union simply would not have the authority to broker.
The autonomy of decision-making is important due to the fact that the economic progress within the European Union is stagnant, thus in order to progress, nations must have confidence in their own power to make the right decisions for their best interest. Britain, for instance, will be able to turn to the World Trade Organisation to protect itself from punitive duties that the EU may consider imposing upon the UK for daring to leave. Fortunately, the UK has taken the independent route and will be able to develop without the Union’s hindrance.
FEDERALISM VS SOVEREIGNTY
Other countries have not been so lucky as to have the will to separate themselves from the bloc. Gearing up for the role of a federal, pan-European superpower, the EU really leaves no compromise when it comes to enforcing its policies. When the EU has introduced economic penalties against Russia, it seemingly did not consider the repercussions such a decision would have on its own constituent countries. The 2015 ban on Russia’s food imports has been felt by many European nations. Poland, for instance, normally exported 700,000 tonnes of apples to Russia, which it no longer could, due to Moscow’s food embargo as a retaliation against the EU.
Poland was not alone. Greece, whose economy has been through rough times, has suffered hundreds of millions worth of losses on its fruit. French produce has experienced a similar fate. Even Germany saw its exports dwindle dramatically. In 2017, Germany lost on the opportunity to make more than €618 million due to the sanctions imposed by Brussels in 2014. In total, the EU has collectively forfeited more than €30 billion since it traded sanctions with Russia over the latter’s conflict with Ukraine.
Such is the approach of the EU administration, that it would sacrifice the welfare of its members in order to pursue its agenda. Ironically, while Brussels uncompromisingly condemn Russia, they are themselves pushing for a superstate with an autocratic leadership and top-down decision-making that could very well be the beginning of the EUSSR. How would confining all European nations under one flag, one government, one parliament, one Central Bank, one currency and one anthem possibly be beneficial to those countries, if they are already being suffocated by the overarching EU Commission and EU Parliament? Even without the status of a federation, the EU already employs the “our way or the highway” approach, which is too autocratic to be trusted with control over a superpower like the United States of Europe would be.
Progress and prosperity comes from reclaiming sovereignty, not from handing it off to a group of people whose only investment is in their own interest. Let this ordeal then be a wake-up call for the European nations, let it be a reminder of the benefits of sovereignty that they could still reclaim. EG