November 29, 2013
A Fundamental Law of the European Union states that it takes a leap moving forward toward Federal Union, when in actuality only takes steps. The text is inconsistent. In several major areas it reverts back to the nation state having preeminence. From the perspective of one who lives in a federal union, and who understands the aim of EU federalists, several Articles stand out within the law as flawed and as inviting unforeseen problems such as the EU has encountered in the past.
In comparison to the previous language of the treaties, the Fundamental Law boldly calls the document “the Law of the Union.” It reclassifies Member States as States and unnecessary language and jargon that placated the nationals is eliminated.
While A Fundamental Law makes major changes within the EU institutions to establish it as a democratic administration by instituting the Commission as the government, areas of the text contradict the Fundamental Law’s conversion of the EU into a political and governmental power. The current Fundamental Law presents a government in embryo when it needs to deliver the baby.
The size of the Commission is reduced and the Parliament’s powers are increased and it acts along with the Council. Good steps, but they stop here. The Council of Europe with 28 nations is way too large. While the size of the Commission is reduced, and the voting procedures are changed to speed up the decision making process, the Council of Europe was never intended to function effectively with more than 12 members and 28 will hinder the speed of the enactment of legislation despite the voting changes. An inner core has been discussed for several decades, and recommendations such as an EU of concentric circles resulted. This treaty needs to go beyond “enhanced cooperation” and create this chamber now.
While the Council enlists the Prime Minister or President of each member country, the Council of Europe, which includes the Commission President, should be reduced to no more than 13 members, with 10-13 being the maximum. The Presidents or Prime Ministers can be picked in the following manner:
- Voted on by the Council, approved by Parliament
- Picked by the Commission President along with his choosing his cabinet
- The members of enhanced cooperation in key policy areas become this group.
- A rotation so each PM or President sits in the seat and makes decisions for the Union as a whole.
Unanimous decisions by this group will move the decision making process along much faster than in a group of 28. The United States started out with 13 States who ran themselves and saw the need for a federal government. Once the Constitution was signed other States joined. If the EU goes forward with a core group of the strongest or most willing nations it will replicate the US’s formation, where 37 additional States joined.
If the Council of Europe’s members are chosen from those who agree to enhanced cooperation, then Article 104 on enhanced cooperation needs to be elaborated on and this inner core must act as the 13 States did in the formation of the United States. The term, “enhanced cooperation” does not belong in the Fundamental Law because the Fundamental Law establishes a government and the States adopt the laws. If anything these are “Nucleus States” because this is the Federalist intention and not enhanced cooperation, which is weak terminology. In addition 104:4 should be changed from “acts adopted in the framework of enhanced cooperation should bind only participating states,” to “acts adopted by the Nucleus States SHALL BIND ALL STATES.
My favorite contradiction to the Fundamental Law is Article 414, it states:
States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council will concert and keep the other States and the Foreign Minister fully informed. States which are members of the Security Council will in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.
Under the Fundamental Law the States that hold seats in the Security Council will cease to exist as sovereign nations and will have to withdraw from the Security Council. The Federalized EU will officially need to submit a new application and apply as a member because it will no longer be a regional grouping but an actual government for the people. The countries that are part of the Federal Union will no longer function as independent nations, and will follow behind the following list of nations that were withdrawn: Czechoslovakia, DDR (East Germany), West Germany, North Yemen, South Yemen, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, United Arab Republic (union Egypt/Syria) and the USSR.
Of all of the text, the Common Security and Defense Policy is the most convoluted. The last sentence of Article 418:1 states, “The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using capabilities provided by the States. It is left up to the States to improve those capabilities. “
It is further written:
418:5. “The Council may entrust the execution of a task, within the Union framework, to a group of States in order to protect the Union’s values and serve its interests.
If the EU is to have its own military, it does not leave its organization up to the States, but forms its own militia and the States discontinue theirs and the moneys they would spend on their army would go into the EU budget for an EU wide military with its own uniforms, planes, tanks etc. How can a group of States be expected to provide the defense for 508 million citizens? The EDA (European Defense Agency) needs to be given the task of forming an EU wide military.
Again, like with the UN we see the States keeping their commitments to NATO in article 418:2, which is another international organization that the States will need to withdraw from because with Federal Union they will no longer be independent sovereign nations and NATO will need to be renegotiated with the Federalized Union.
Upon reading A Fundamental Law of the European Union I was impressed with the ease of reading the legal language, unlike US law, which is difficult to understand. I also could see effort that went into the draft, and only have admiration for Andrew Duff for his time and commitment to the Project, but the Fundamental Law makes me feel like the Beatle’s song Day Tripper, “she took me half way there.” This version of the Fundamental Law is flawed and does not go far enough and should be amended to eliminate the inconsistencies before the convention or there will follow Fundamental Law 2 and 3 and two more decades of working out the details. So while the Fundamental Law takes a step rather than a leap, it needs to take a leap if it is to accomplish its aims.
At this time in the EU’s history it has proven itself by its numbers alone: 508 million citizens, largest economy, largest GDP, that if the nations want to exit, it is to their loss. In addition, geopolitically, the EU has the most volatile region of the world just outside of its borders. The US, which accounts for a good deal of EU trade is conducting an experiment to remedy its own economy by approving more quantitative easing. The US’s balloon is going to pop and when it does it will unleash a global economic tsunami the EU must be prepared to handle. In addition, the natural disasters are occurring with such unpredictability and severity with damages and costs that exceed wars. The effects on the global economy are still being studied. The EU has every reason to move forward into Federal Union and take the lead for its citizens in a world presenting such cataclysmic possibilities.
Author : Erika Grey