In a speech at the SPD’s party conference in Berlin, Martin Schulz, the leader of Germany’s Social Democratic party has recently sketched out red lines for talks to form another coalition government with Angela Merkel. But Schulz also broke the bank when he called for the creation of a “United States of Europe” by 2025, as well as a more robust social security net and a phasing out of coal power. Schulz told delegates that he wanted EU member states to sign off on a “constitutional treaty” that committed the bloc to take steps towards a federal Europe.
In this proposal, likely to be met with some resistance from Merkel and other EU leaders, Schulz also warned that “the continent cannot afford four more years of German European policy a la Schäuble”, referring to the austerity measures of the country’s conservative former finance minister. “Such a constitutional treaty has to be written by a convention that includes civil society and the people. This constitutional treaty will then have to be put to the member states and those that don’t approve it will automatically have to leave the EU,” Schulz said in a quote in Guardian interview.
The United States of Europe
Schulz is the first top European politician to call recently and openly for a “United States of Europe” in a bid to enter a government. Until now, only the French President Emmanuel Macron, has mentioned his support for “more Europe,” or further EU integration, yet he did not put it as boldly. It is evident that there is an increasing interest among the European elites, but also from a large number of citizens, to federalise the continent. Recently in a poll in Euronews, 56% of the people participating said that they support Schulz and a Federal Europe.
And it appears to be inevitable. America shows signs of fatigue and is in an identity crisis of its own. With Donald Trump as their President, their foreign policy has become erratic and provocative, threatening the peace and balance in the rest of the world. Not only, Trump boldly went on and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, leaving the globe not only biting its nails over the next action of the two hot-headed leaders, but looking on in frustration when he deemed the USA, the only nation not to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
A tired and emotional USA
While every nation, even the war-torn Syria is on-board in this crucial global effort to save the planet, Trump had other ideas in his mind. And now, he once again caused an outrage, by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, causing of course, a backlash in the Arab world and beyond. He forgets that he is not just any public figure at the moment, seeking attention with his tweets or controversial statements, he is the leader of a country and he represents it. Until now, America was considered the leading nation of the “free world,” of the West and all democracies on the planet. But under Trump, America’s leadership shows a lack of direction. Instead of leading the world to a new era, he attempts to drag us all backwards.
It is now the time for Europe to affirm itself and show leadership, promoting its own interests and vision for a different, better world. Not to compete or go against America, the two must remain close partners. But the world is, in fact, becoming more multi-polar. Many former developing nations are now challenging not just America’s, but all the “First World’s” hegemony and rightly so. The so-called “BRICS” nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), are gradually amounting to more growth in the globe, than many of the developed nations.
And it is a good thing too. For too long one or two hostile superpowers have dragged the rest of the world to the direction they wanted, often a catastrophic one. We should be very concerned when one nation, in this case the USA, can take control of the whole planet and impose their bad choices of a president or certain policies, to the rest of us. With a stronger and united Europe, but also firmer and assertive BRICS, plus the rise of more players and blocks around the globe, we can finally have a balance and a more equal distribution of wealth.
No fear of competition
We should not fear it, it is what humanity needs to eradicate poverty, inequality and take the next step forward and tackle our biggest challenges united, cooperating with each other. As things are at the moment, our planet is too divided to solve its problems, like climate change, the prevention of many diseases, natural disasters, the extinction of many species and so on. We need everyone on board, active, equal and willing to share their resources. When we have too many underdeveloped countries, humanity can not progress to its next phase. It is holding us back, as we keep dealing with problems like hunger, mass immigration and poverty.
Thus, Europe has to rise to these challenges and play a key role in their solution. This is what we Europeans must aspire to, it has to become our destiny. Things won’t get better unless we mobilise ourselves and become beacons that others will want to aspire to.
We must show leadership and promote our interests to the rest of the world, as each country on its own is too small to raise its voice to bigger, emerging players. If Europe becomes a pioneer in solving humanity’s challenges, not only we will secure prosperity and stability for our descendants, but another thing to be proud of being Europeans.
US of E for me, easier to do now that the UK is out of the way, lets get on with it…….
In Winston Churchill’s speech to the allied delegates at St. James’s Place in London on 12 June 1941, he said ‘ It will not be by German hands that the structure of Europe will be rebuilt or union of the European family achieved.’ It was historically not the first time a union of European countries had been suggested, but it led to the famous speech at the University of Zurich on 19 September 1946. in which he called on European countries, including Germany, to form a regional organisation for security and cooperation on the continent. He did not explicitly include the UK, but he also did not exclude them. It is here the concept that matters, Brexit aside. In that lengthy speech he said ‘The structure of the United States of Europe will be such as to make the material strength of a single State less important. Small nations will count as much as large ones and gain their honour by a contribution to the common cause. The ancient States and principalities of Germany, freely joined for mutual convenience in a federal system, might take their individual places among the United States of Europe.’ A little later he added ‘If we are to form a United States of Europe, or whatever name it may take, we must begin now.’ Contextually it was his concern with the escalating threat of nuclear war, but more important to note is that he said ‘we’ in reference to all of Europe and that it was over 71 years ago. He developed the theme further in an address in The Hague on 7 May 1948, followed by an address at the European rally in Amsterdam on 9 May 1948.
10 November 2013, the then EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso said that leaders of the EU should revive Winston Churchill’s post-war vision for a kind of ‘United States of Europe’: ‘We need to show the same political courage and vision of Winston Churchill,’ and ’He was a man of foresight with an acute sense of history, often ahead of prevailing opinion, never shying away from saying what some might choose to ignore.’ In his his last speech about Europe at London’s Central Hall, Westminster in July 1957, roughly four months after the six founding nations established the EEC by signing the Treaty of Rome, he welcomed the formation of a ‘common market’ by the six, provided that ‘the whole of free Europe will have access’. He also warned: ‘If, on the other hand, the European trade community were to be permanently restricted to the six nations, the results might be worse than if nothing were done at all – worse for them as well as for us. It would tend not to unite Europe but to divide it – and not only in the economic field.’
Martin Schulz is simply continuing along the same path as, ironically, the darling of the UK’s political right wing. It is always ironic to think that it may be dismissed as a socialist plot when we think that Thomas Paine, another Englishman, who was an early socialist provided most of the ideological basis for the USA to become a federal state, however far from that kind of supposedly left leaning idea it has moved. It is, thus not a socialist plot at all, indeed Churchill could hardly be called in any sense left wing, but something that contains all political persuasions. Schulz may be demanding something that is a bit ahead of its time and it is unlikely ever to be structured like the USA with too many constitutions, legal systems, languages and cultures to embrace but it is right for him to remind us it is a worthy long term goal.