A Federal Europe

A new government for Germany is about to take over, comprising parties from across the political spectrum. They are agreed on one thing, it is time for the European Union to become the long-envisioned federation of Continental nations. How likely is that to happen, now or ever?

Could a United States of Europe be a closer prospect now that the new German coalition of green, socialist and market-liberal parties has declared that it will work towards a federal government of EU member states? The Commission has been steadily accreting powers since the Treaty of Maastricht was signed, the biggest steps on a path to federation so far have have been a supreme court (the CJEU) and a common currency with a central bank to determine monetary policy. With freedom of movement for citizens plus ever burgeoning regulation across all fields the pot is simmering but the next Bundesregierung wants to turn up the heat. How?

A common foreign policy agreed by majority, rather than a feeble High Representative with states having a veto, could also mean that a common defence force might actually do something. The French would love it since their commanders would obviously take the lead, being the only serious military power in the EU. Germany might be glad to merge its broomstick army into the mix. However Poland is clear that it trusts the USA and NATO to defend it against Russian aggression far more than it trusts its EU partners. The German coalition agreement also “… calls on the commission not to release recovery fund money to countries that do not ensure an independent judiciary” [1] which should guarantee the Poles won’t get behind Chancellor Scholz’s programme when he takes over from Merkel.

The plan does at least call for the European Parliament to have the right to introduce legislation rather than just vote through what the Commission puts on its table, which addresses one issue of democratic deficiency. Sort of. But transnational lists will probably put prospective MEPs even further from the reach of their constituents than the current regional arrangements.

The new Bundeskabinett will have a hawkish finance minister, Christian Lindner from the FDP. What are the chances of moving beyond monetary union (the eurozone) to a full fiscal union? At present the EZ has some elements of fiscal union, such as determining VAT levels, but how does Herr Lindner feel about sharing Germany’s credible credit card with its incredible Southern neighbours?

The economies of the EU and the EZ have not converged as the master planners expected so German voters, and others in the more prosperous nations, are unlikely to welcome taking on the responsibilities of a true federal Europe. From debt to defence there are obstacles in the way.

The desire of some senior national politicians to move the EU to become a full federal state is not supported by majorities of the voting populace in the member states, but who cares what they want anyway?

[1] https://euobserver.com/democracy/153624


Some of the issues mentioned in this post were discussed in more detail in our previous posts. The very limited, democratic role of the EU Parliament is described here:

[See: B: Democracy, Subsidiarity & Union-Uniformity]

The enormous debts accumulated by some states, the majority owed to Germany, and the impossibility of ever repaying them were quantified at the time and a summary of some of our key posts can be found here:

Themes-16: EMU-Euro

The Future of the Euro –1

Die Another Day?


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