We have argued in previous texts in favour of the creation of a Federal European Republic (FER) that would replace the EU and its member states as a new sovereign state. We presented our thinking from the perspective of better promotion of human rights, economy or a common European identity. We would also argue here from the perspective of a more significant and positive impact on the world.
The FER would constitute the globe’s biggest economy and third-largest population. Given its significance and size, it would constitute a self-sufficient and distinct pillar of global order. It would be one of the geopolitical and economic leaders of the globe. It would also take on major responsibility for a better world. Based on its own example as a federal union of peace, prosperity and humanism, the FER would exercise its transformative power toward the rest of the planet by leading all in a federal rules-based and more humanistic direction. The strategic objective of FER foreign policy would be the creation of a global family of nations that co-exist, co-operate and peacefully compete under a globally regulated framework of peace, civility, free economy and respect of human values and natural environment.
We are not naive; we are well aware that such an objective is still a very long shot. However, it is not utopic. We firmly believe that if Europe becomes a coherent sovereign state and thus a potent global protagonist, the prospect of a rules-based global governance would be much more realistic. The FER – and perhaps only the FER – could project such a transformative effect onto the rest of the world. Currently this is not possible for the EU in its present form or for its individual member states. Only the FER would possess the economic and geopolitical leverage strong enough to make possible the adoption of European values at bilateral, regional and global levels.
The first strategic objective: to become a major geopolitical power
The FER’s first strategic objective in terms of global policy would be to reach the position of a major geopolitical power by developing its single economic space (the biggest in the world) and to function as a potent military force in the world. It would thus become a peer of the USA, Russia and China, and not their minority partner. It would be a self-sufficient geostrategic entity able to protect its territorial integrity, vital interests and global or regional peace. This would be a natural, necessary and achievable development.
First, it would be a natural development due to the size of that new state. The FER would belong to the top three economies and populations of the planet, meaning such a huge entity would need its own defence capability. It would be unnatural and unwise for the FER to be a military dwarf next to a neighbour such as Russia, a country with less than one-third the EU’s population and one-tenth of its economy. Geography, demography and wealth matter the most in global politics, and all three elements dictate that Europe must become once again a prime geopolitical force – this time, however, as a continent and not as the sum of different national states.
It would also be necessary for the FER to ensure its core character. In an uncertain century, there is no guarantee that Europe’s interests and values will align with those of the USA, nor it is a given that the USA will remain capable or interested in ensuring Europe’s security against threats. FER’s prosperity and economic development would depend mainly on its ability to set its own geopolitical agenda, ranging from freedom of sea trade to space competition. We cannot remain forever under the constant protection or threat of other big powers. That would undermine the independence of our policy choices in the long-term.
All this is, ultimately, achievable because the FER would possess the resources, economy of scale and political framework to become a geostrategic force – elements which the EU and its individual member states currently lack. The FER’s military would build upon today’s highly developed military forces of the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and others, together with their existing nuclear arsenals. Altogether, they would merge and develop their technological achievements, research and intelligence resources under a common FER army structure.
The second strategic objective: Promote a global model of governance based on federalism and humanistic values
As a prime geopolitical force, it would be in the FER’s direct interest to support global governance that reflects its own federal model. The FER would work toward a world order that functions on the basis of rules instead of chaos; multilateralism instead of unilateralism; peace versus violence; and negotiations instead of confrontations. Moreover, the FER would bring to the centre of global action the existential threats which all now face: global warming, food and energy supplies and the challenges of artificial intelligence and automation. These can only be confronted via global co-operation, not competition.
The FER should first pursue a re-organisation of the United Nations (UN) system. Our major objective would be the establishment of a new comprehensive UN Charter – a world constitution with binding provisions that regulate humanity’s fundamental issues: the maintenance of peace through a global security system, nuclear disarmament and reduction of other arms; the free flow of trade and capital; monetary stability; respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms; gender equality; sustainable development; the mitigation of climate change; and a functioning system of international justice and enforcement of international rules. The new Charter would, to a large extent, replace various international treaties while incorporating the basic rules and principles of fragmented international law. It would, for instance, incorporate the basic provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The FER would further push for the creation of a global governing body, a “World Council”, with enhanced powers to implement the Charter. The World Council would replace the current UN Security Council and be more inclusive. It would contain as permanent members all the great powers and regional blocks of the world, such as the FER, USA, China, Russia, India, Japan, Mexico, Brazil and the African Union, plus any potential Latin American federation or future regional groupings that might emerge. It would also include smaller countries as non-permanent rotating members, from all regions of the planet. The World Council’s decisions would be taken by a qualified majority with either no veto power for its permanent members or restricted to very exceptional cases. Such decisions would be further subject to the scrutiny of the UN General Assembly which could veto them by a qualified majority (e.g. three quarters of the total votes) if the Assembly considered that a decision went against humanity’s interests.
The Council’s decisions would be enforced through economic sanctions, the suspension of certain rights of offending countries and – where necessary – military action.
All countries and the World Council itself, would be subject to the jurisdiction of a World Court of Justice. The latter would replace the array of UN tribunals currently located in The Hague or elsewhere. Its rulings would be based on the UN Charter and be binding for all the subjects of international law. We would like to stress how important it is for Europe, whether in its current form of the EU or a future FER, to focus its efforts on such an international stance. Diplomacy, regulatory frameworks, consensus, free trade and all forms of soft power are the natural areas of European action. This is our strong card and should remain our preferred field of initiative.
In any event, and regardless of how the UN system evolves, the FER would be an active protagonist in all international fora that matter. It would be a permanent member of the current UN Security Council (replacing the seats of France and the UK), a member of NATO and a major player within all UN bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and any other institutions with a global mandate. The FER would also participate in other regional activities of global importance such as the Asian Development Bank (mainly controlled by Japan and the USA) or the Asian Infrastructure and Development Bank (mainly controlled by China).
The FER would put its hands deep in the pockets and support all international entities that promote its agenda. A lot of UN agencies risk to be under-funded, thus their development programs would seriously rely on European assistance.
Europe’s best chance to compete with the rest of the world, and also contribute to a better world, is to unite under a federal republic that would project its values and federal model to the rest of the planet. This is important to protect its interests in the most effective manner and project its power and values at a global stage. It is also necessary for moving toward a more federal and rules-based world order and addressing the global challenges of the 21st century.
I share your conviction as a federalist Yannis, but I am increasingly convinced it is a longer term project than most federalists are willing to concede. In the interim the best strategy would be to move toward a confederation. I often say that the stumbling block is the different constitutions and legal systems that cannot easily be patched together by some kind of federal constitution with a common legal system that integrates all of those of member states. That is just the easy bit to use as an example. If I may use a blasphemy to illustrate how hard the task is, Brexit, which is destabilising the EU at present because it is giving confidence to groups who are anti-EU, most of them referred to as populists but most certainly all nationalists. I am quite convinced that is a temporary phenomenon that will expose itself as being no better than any other political ideology and lose its present position in European politics. However, that will not be for a couple of legislative periods anyway. In the interim surely it is showing us just how fickle Europe is and how those who wish to unify our continent are confronted with a trend that may repeat itself many times in the future. In fact, it would be undemocratic to try to eradicate it no matter how much any other us may thoroughly hate it. The idea has been around in one form or another since antiquity and in all honesty if Charlemagne could not achieve it or the almost 800 years of Arab occupation of Iberia that had the potential to expand early in the 10 century, indeed Bonaparte and Hitler started to get close to achieving it and may have done so if either had been more patient and used other strategies. Now to to what has been unsuccessful by force in a peaceful manner in a continent that may well be at peace but has a history and tradition of wars still has too many differences. There are things that need to be done that will inform populations and sell the idea to them, which we must then accept as their response and not go ahead to impose something on them. Thus, attempting to be pragmatic rather than idealistic, I see the standing notion of ‘ever closer union’ as a starting point for drawing Europe together by first working toward some common goals that would slowly creation a confederation without disturbing anybody. I seriously think nationhood must be allowed to continue, that new secessions by parts of members states that wish and need to be independent are allowed to happen without either discouragement or encouragement, then them accepted as member states in the confederation. That that may then be allowed to grow and the next stage of becoming a federation slowly begins is the probable solution. It may mean a period of well over a century and even then only have founding members at that stage. Of all things, I also firmly believe that impatience is counterproductive and may well even slow integration down.
Thank you Brian. I agree that we need to arrive to that end step-by-step. Some people believe that the process would last too long, maybe decades. It should first go through a phase of closer integration, then a form of confederation and finally a kind of federation. This is the most realistic and smoother way to go. On the other hand, I have the feeling that rapid geopolitical events of a global scale (a big war or a colossal financial crisis) will shake the self-confidence of every Europe member state and will force them into a USA-type federation. All this will happen within a very short time-scale. It will be something like the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union but to the reverse direction: unification instead of implosion.