We know that the challenges facing Europe are difficult because we live in a complex and globalized world. It is time to build a real federal Europe, with a president, a government and a shared budget. Together we are strong enough to face global issues. Together we can be a real economic power. Socially and culturally, we become masters of our own collective destiny. It is time that the European citizen gets up to make his or her voice heard and to build the Europe of tomorrow. Modern Europe, efficient, clever, generous, working to the growth and well-being of its citizens. A democratic Europe that does not bend under the weight of technical procedures, administrative regulations or competing public powers. We should vector that tremendous waste of energy into something useful. A federal Europe should be a place of debate, reflection, and innovation, a school of learning from each other rather than a fragmented space dominated by the reluctance exploited by populism of all forms. A Europe organized, ambitious, sharing a common goal, whose combined skills offer the best possible safeguards to deal with the effects of the current crises and the challenges that await us tomorrow, before which each member state weighs heavy enough itself.
Our movement is one which envisions the creation of a federation of European countries, using the United States of America as a model. The construction of Europe has been fabricated on the idea of a peaceful coexistence amongst European nations—nations which have gradually delegated some of their powers to a supranational body in pursuit of greater integration. This integration could be only partial when it began in the 1950’s. Today, we believe that the project which started over six decades ago needs to be pursued to its completion to create a homogeneous political entity, capable of implementing strong public policies in response to global challenges.
Since the construction of Europe, the world has changed. In the 50’s and 60’s, Europe enjoyed a favorable economic climate, growth driven by technological progress, a competitive industry, an increase in the purchasing power of the middle class, population growth, and competition limited to the developed world—all factors which enabled the traditional international model to perpetuate under which European nations continued to prosper.
But since the early 1990s, which coincided with the start of globalization and the rise of major emerging countries, this model of partial integration has begun to run out of steam and has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to solve the problems it faces. The past trends have now reversed, and Europe has devised no real alternative model: An aging population, a declining birth rate, nationalism, a rise in extremism, an increasing number of people who are in a state of poverty, more red tape, a decrease in the competitiveness of European businesses, increasing deficits, and an inability to impose a reduction in sovereign debt despite the Euro convergence criteria set out in the Maastricht Treaty—examples abound that emphasize the vital necessity of rethinking Europe’s political organization. By depriving itself of the pooling of its resources; by allocating only 1 per cent of the total Member States’ GNP to the federal European budget, while the United States administration manages 25 per cent of the US’s wealth creation; by increasing useless government regulatory requirements; by expanding the Union to more than 27 countries without introducing an adequate governance model to ensure political cohesion; and by diluting the sense of common identity shared by the Member States, Europe stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the fact that it’s political divisiveness that prevents it from implementing meaningful solutions to the problems that it faces. In our modern world of open markets where rising powers project strong internal political cohesion, Europe cannot hope to restore any of its former glory—including its past political, economic, social, or cultural influence —without the structural reforms that we advocate. These reforms will provide the resources, energy, and political will that are necessary for Europe’s revival. The current political model of partial integration has lived its life. Considering the unprecedented speed of economic and political change throughout the world, keeping the current model will inevitably lead to a catastrophic decline followed by isolationism, the resurgence of nationalism, and unavoidable economic and social turmoil in the resulting disunity.
We have a tendency to believe that geopolitics is frozen in time; however, States are simply part of a bigger story and experience many different forms of organization throughout their history. For example, Italy and Germany are now strong national entities, but for how many centuries did they consist of microstates, principalities, duchies, republics, and fragmented kingdoms? How many territorial and political divisions existed in these countries prior to their unification in the late 19th century? The life and geographical boundaries of States have experienced constant changes. They have had to continually adapt to their political, economic, and military environments. The ways in which they affiliated with others and organized themselves evolved constantly. The same can be witnessed today. There has been a resurgence of regionalist hegemonies in countries such as Spain, Italy, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, the impact of the crisis has intensified fears, marked by the resurgence of xenophobia, with stereotypes to match, such as portraying the Germans as the rulers, and others, such as the Greeks, as the profiteers. This exclusionary reasoning is a hotbed for demagogues and extremists. The threat of this serious historical regression is fueled by the creation of an increasingly large economic area without its equivalent political underpinning capable of uniting the people of Europe around a common and clearly-defined identity. The need for a European Federation is therefore justified both internationally and domestically. The Federation is hence a logical continuation of history: The European nations which were formed in the 19th century united nationally to be more influential. The process today is identical—only the scale on which unification is to occur has changed: It is no longer continental, but global. Some will argue that, historically, large multinational federations have failed (e.g.: the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, the Ottoman Empire, etc.). However, their failures are to be explained by the fact that they were not created with the consent of the people, but rather imposed by stronger countries on weaker ones. The United States of Europe, as proposed by our party, will only succeed if it receives broad public support and is formed through a completely transparent and democratic process. Large federations exist already in countries such as the United States of America, Canada, and India—they understood that a united political body is greater than just the sum of its components. Europe will be much stronger when it is united under the leadership of a president and an executive branch entrusted with real decision-making and operational powers. We are not suggesting that the States as we know them will be dissolved, but rather that they transfer certain additional powers to a federal institution. The significant increase in its budgetary and policy-making powers will finally allow Europe to thrive and to make policies which are effective and coherent, capable of coping adequately with the current.
The Stand Up Team
Like you, we are ordinary citizens. Like you, we care about our own futures and those of our children. Like you, we belong to society and we are concerned with the changing trends and international events. That’s why we decided to take our responsibilities and to found Stand Up. From all political backgrounds, social and professional, we share a common realistic vision that is neither left nor right, refusing the easy-to-make promises and all forms of demagoguery. We are not trying to do work of political careerism, we are simply carrying citizens of a project likely to revitalize the economy, promote social justice and be more redistributive than the current financial situation that is no longer secure, and reconnect with the European vision. Students, employees, office workers, contractors, self-employed people, artists and teachers, the founding members of Stand Up are all these at once.
Our program: It’s your Europe
We Europeans are facing new challenges. High unemployment, the rise of nationalist movements, the dismantling of our social protection systems, the economic crisis, climate change, a neighborhood increasingly unstable and the emergence of world powers in continental scale, to name only these examples. It is becoming increasingly clear that our countries, taken individually, are not capable of responding to problems of this century. Simultaneously, the European debt crisis has shown that the present European Union is not well equipped to address these challenges. In other words, we lose control of our future. That is why we must go further in European integration. We can no longer afford to waste our resources and increase our costs in a political space where each country finance the same skills at the national level, such as defense, diplomacy and energy. Many expensive redundancies in amounts amount to hundreds of billions of euros. Contrary to popular belief, it is not Europe but the lack of Europe which is very expensive to Europeans. Redundancies skills are exorbitant expenses that are easily preventable through the pooling of part of our expertise, our resources and our sovereign debt. However, this will only be possible if “we”, European citizens share that vision. The vision of democracy throughout Europe, that is transparent and accountable to its citizens. We Europeans must solve the fundamental question of what we share and what we want to achieve together. This requires a pan-European political debate involving all citizens. Only a truly participatory approach can power a genuine sense of belonging to the European project and strengthening the democratic legitimacy of decisions taken at European level. We Europeans want to ensure that our quality of life and that of future generations resume a central place in the political debate. Employers and employees, pensioners and students, are all in a close interdependence situation.Together, we can overcome our present difficulties and prepare a “New Renaissance” European. Therefore Stand Up for the United States of Europe, in partnership with the Belgian section of the European Federalist Party, will participate in the 2014 elections of the European Parliament with the following program:
- Build a strong democracy of 500 million citizens in Europe
- A dynamic European economy for more jobs and better
- Ensuring social justice for all
- Improving the quality of life of Europeans
- A Secure Europe in a safer world
- Immigration and development
- Fiscal consolidation while addressing the recession? Yes it's possible
- We Europeans living together in Europe
Regarding the major role it could play on the global scene, how can the EU reinforce its credibility and visibility
- In the field of diplomatic relations and defence?
- When it comes to trade and cooperation with the emerging powers?
- In relation to development aid?
- In the matters concerning cooperation and strategic partnerships with international organisations?
In this context, what are the proposals and the means Stand up for Europe can put in place so that the EU can actually claim and achieve a real global stature in its foreign relations and speak with one voice in a multipolar world?
1. State of play:
The relations of the EU with the rest of the world are many and varied but they don’t represent the global stature the EU could claim in its will to unite a whole continent.
The most recent Treaty of Lisbon lead to a major evolution in the field of external action with the creation of the role of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the put in place of the diplomatic branch of the EU, namely the European External Action Service (EEAS).
The High Representative (currently Ms. Federica Mogherini) is entitled to the functions in the field of foreign affairs previously exercised by the rotating presidency, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (Javier Solana) and the European Commissioner in charge of external relations.
The EEAS assists the High Representative in ensuring the coordination and the coherence of the external action of the Union.
It also assists the President of the European Council (Donald Tusk) and assures a close cooperation with the Member States.
- Lack of unity, vision and concerted direction of the common foreign and security policies due in particular to the dysfunctions of the institutional project and to the absence of a political union for the EU.
- Lack of consistency between the external action of the Union represented by the EEAS and each Member State individual embassies around the world.
- Second-tier player in the consolidation of the peace processes following the world larger conflicts.
- Lack of consistency in the EU development aid, as it cannot profit from its status of largest donor due to the plurality of its Member States bilateral aid provided under their respective sovereignties.
- Lack of a common defence policy and very limited means to contribute to the world security.
- The absence of specific EU representations to large international institutions, multilateral organisations and international and regional investors, particularly the IMF, the World Bank Group, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the African Development Bank. In all of these international fora, Europe does not speak with one voice.
- Frequent application of restrictions and distortions to trade exchange at the expense of Europe
3. Proposals for improvement:
In the absence of a political union, highly symbolical initiatives should be concretely put in place in order to build momentum; in this context, the title of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy should be changed into the more daring qualification of EU Minister of Foreign Affairs, with real decision-making and organizational prerogatives.
Accordingly, the delegates of the EEAS should be qualified once and for all as EU ambassadors and entitled to concrete decision-making and organisational prerogatives.
Finally, the Commissioners in charge of common policies exclusively entitled to the EU and linked to the external world ( such as Trade, Competition, Monetary Affairs, Environment, R&D), should be boldly defined “Ministers of the EU”.
Free-trade wishful thinking should stop and deliberate and baseless trade restrictions should be sanctioned by antidumping duties (e.g. imposing taxes on Chinese solar panels); in our trade exchanges we must present ourselves as a united power and play the major role we are supposed to play in global trade. Consequently, we must go after all protectionist moves taken by some large third countries and when necessary dare to adopt retaliatory measures proper of our position of world’s largest trade bloc.
In a more comfortable field such as development aid, it seems urgent to aggregate and mutualise the contributions of each Member State through voluntary actions, coordinated and centralised by the EU. By doing so, a common development aid policy eventually depending on the EU would be within reach.
For the records, the amount of development aid coming from the EU and its Member States equals to about 60 bln euros per year, making the EU the world’s main donor.
A European mutualisation of the ODA (Official Development Assistance) would allow a better optimisation in the resource allocation and it would model itself on the example set by the EU in humanitarian aid. The EU humanitarian aid (ECHO) is indeed paradigmatic and it makes it easier to react in an effective and coordinated way to every international urgency.
It is evident that the EU should speak with one voice within large international organizations such as the IMF, the WB, the EBRD, the IDB, the ADB, …; As a matter of fact, every Member State is represented, creating an onerous mismanagement that should once and for all disappear, giving way to a single specific representation of the EU to the international institutions and regional development Banks alike.
Notwithstanding the above, Europe’s external relations strategy should first and foremost take into account the adoption of a common defence policy. This substantive matter is about Europe as a “power” in the new polycentric world that surrounds us and can no longer wait. 1914 is long gone, the world is now multipolar and it is about time to provide Europe with the classic attribute of a power, namely the common defence now completely lacking. A common defence policy should both incorporate an autonomous military capability operating under the European flag and sustain a European defence industry (e.g. the realisation of the multi-national military transport aircraft AM400). Currently, the European contribution to global security and stability mainly consists of formation and support whereas a real deploy of military means should be put on the agenda. For this purpose, a systematic coordination of the Member States’ military capabilities and investments is more important than ever and should be framed by a European strategy; a particular effort should be made in the field of cooperation between the defence industries and military R&Ds. Let us remind ourselves that the EDC (European Defense Community) treaty of 1952, imagined by the visionary Jean Monnet, was signed by 6 States but rejected by France on August 30th, 1954. Times have changed, as well as the stakeholders and the international geopolitical environment and there are new urgent decisions to make.
In addition to the above, the European identity on the global scene should finally cover other strategic priorities, in particular:
- Macroeconomic regulation
- The fight against international terrorism
- The modernization of social protection
- Energy issues
- Technological innovation
4. Specific assets:
The deployment of a European strategy at the world level can also build on and take advantage of certain assets and strong points inherent to the European Union, in particular:
The EU is historically attached to human rights and it watches over their universal respect. For this reason, the EU places human rights at the heart of its external relations, being it the enlargement process to new members, political dialogues with third countries or its development aid policy.
The reaction mechanism for catastrophes and humanitarian aid is an example of cooperation of the EU.
The EU can claim to be spearheading the negotiation process on climatic change towards an international binding agreement. For this reason, the EU represent a major player on the global scene in the fight for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Notwithstanding certain apparent weaknesses, the EU constitute the world’s largest trading bloc; trade is a common policy and when it comes to trade, the EU has the capability (even though it sometimes lacks the will) to speak with one voice during the negotiations with its international partners.
As a result of the foregoing, it is clear that the mutualisation of the military expenditures, the diplomatic services, the development aid, the humanitarian aid and the representations of the Member States within the international fora must be considered an urgency and a priority. Such measures would would be the consequence of a triple logic: politically, the Union would be able to realise its ambitions on the global scene; operatively, it would be given the means to be active on the ground; economically, it would be able to guarantee employments and stimulate innovation in a period of austerity.
Above all, this would be undoubtedly accomplished accordingly to the rationale of the citizen, in full respectance, despite the tough times, of the European citizens.
Thanks to Alessandro Zerbini for the voluntarily translating this document.
Our Support Commitee
The following members of civil society are part of the Support Committee for Stand Up for the United States of Europe.
Former director of the GDF SUEZ Group, Former Belgian Champion and Team Leader at the Horse Trials
Founder and President of the Consultative Committee of European Affaires of Ixelles
Commander of the Detachment of the Military Police at the Parliaments of Wallonia and the French Community
Honorary Director General of the European Investment Bank and Secretary General of the European Long-Term Investors association – ELTI and of the Long-Term Investors Club – LTIC
Director General and Art director of the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Brussels
Founder at Filigranes libraries
Member of the Orientation Council at the Institute of Thomas More and retired Director of Service of ‘Financial Operations at the European Commission
Honorary Member of the European Parliament
Former President of the Bar of Bruxelles
Administrator and Intendent of business coalitions
Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and President of the Institut d’Etudes européennes
Honorary European deputy
Senior Banker at the European Bank, teaches “Infrastructure Finance” at SciencesPo Paris.
CEO at Sodexo (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
Art historian and curator
Writer, Visiting scholar at Université Saint Louis and ICHEC, honorary adviser to the European Commission
President – Founder of Pairi Daiza
Manager of the year, PDG of Artexis
Director General Deciders/Decitime
Philosopher, emeritus Professor at Université Libre Bruxelles and at the Collège d’Europe (Bruges)
Director General and President of the Executive Committee of the Delhaize Group, President of the Interfédéral Belgian Olympic Committee (COIB) and member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Doctor in Applied Economics
Director General of the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie
State Minister, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-President of the Belgian political party Mouvement Réformateur
Honorary President of the king Baudouin Foundation, President and co-founder of Inter-Environment
Minister of State
Author, composer, interpreter
Honorary Senator, retired Minister, writer