Federating the European Union

This is an extract from Tony Czarnecki’s book: ‘Democracy for a Human Federation’

From a purely socio-political perspective, European citizens expect that the new Constitution will introduce a new system of democracy, which will give them many additional levels of control over the government. That should significantly reduce the impact of politics of deception practiced by all parties, but foremost by populists. Additionally, they would need reassurance that the economic system becomes much fairer as a result of deep constitutional changes impacting the company law, the relationships between the company stakeholders and the limits on personal wealth.

So, how to convince the EU electorate that transforming the EU into the European Federation on the basis of a new Constitution, which would mean that individual countries will lose their sovereignty, is a price worth paying for a significant reduction of the risk of their nation’s, and indeed the humanity’s, survival? How to persuade people to give up some voting rights because the new Constitution may introduce a weighted voting system linked to some conditions, like education? How would MPs agree to serve a maximum of two terms rather than an unlimited no. of terms, as they do right now in most democracies? Turkeys do not vote for Christmas and this is a classic example of such a situation.

It is clear that the ratification process of the Constitution would be a major milestone, which would trigger the constitutional changes in the EU member states, causing them to adapt the existing institutions to new subsidiary roles within the EF. A lot depends on which specific laws the Constitution will contain and what will be the depth of centralization (how much freedom would be left to former member countries to lead their lives as before). The final decision will of course be made by national parliaments or by the referenda in the member states.

Many people may accept the key rationale for the EU countries to relinquish their sovereignty, in order to act as one state and thus being more capable in responding to existential risks. However, I would think that for the majority of the EU citizens (and for quite a few politicians) cold, rational arguments for establishing the European Federation (EF) will probably remain unconvincing and instead emotions would come to the fore. Therefore, the day, when the Constitution will have been signed but not ratified by any country yet, will be a kind of a D-Day. On that day, a campaign lasting presumably for up to two years will take place, if some joining states will have to conduct a referendum, rather than pass the ratification mandate to a Citizens’ Assembly.

I am fully aware of insurmountable difficulties that such a campaign may present for the EU states and their citizens. Therefore, the best way to get the acceptance of a given country’s electorate to become part of the European Federation may be to bundle deep constitutional reforms needed with a series of long-term, largely economic, benefits, some of which have already been proposed by President Macron, e.g. Universal Basic Income. Here are some suggestions:

  • Carry out a coordinated campaign in every EU country on deep social and economic reforms that will be introduced alongside new political arrangement. i.e. a deep reform of democracy such as proposed in the Consensual Presidential Democracy, which would fundamentally change current democratic principles, introducing new ones. Such a campaign could be supported by digital media, Facebook, and local conventions. This has been broadly proposed by the EU Parliament’s version of the Future of Europe Conference, planned for completion in 2022.
  • Explain the merits of a new, consensus-based democracy, in which coalitions will be preferred to create an additional control over the politicians and the government (if it becomes part of the new Constitution)
  • Explain the reasons why the President and two Vice Presidents will have significant powers, with the Presidents becoming the ultimate arbiter between the parties, should a consensus be difficult to reach (if it becomes part of the new Constitution)
  • Explain the importance of an additional Citizens Chamber in the EF Parliament, where the members will be selected using a random selection method from an electoral roll, which should provide an additional level of control over the government (if it becomes part of the new Constitution)
  • Stress the end of career politicians resulting from establishing a maximum 2-term period of service at any level of political decision making
  • Introduce an unconditional Universal Basic Income (UBI) for every citizen, but with different entitlement for age groups (e.g. children, working adults and pensioners) or a Negative Income Tax to improve equality in wealth distribution.
  • Introduce the same minimum living wage across the Federation, e.g. €1,000. This is a very expensive proposal but it may tilt the balance in favour of the new Constitution in Central and East European countries. In any case, once the EU becomes the European Federation, such a policy would have to be implemented anyway
  • Identify big infrastructure projects, with the allocated capital for each joining country. That would be on top of already allocated EU funds for that country. In my view, investments to convert whole industries to zero carbon emission, like closing down coal mines in Germany and Poland, would significantly contribute to creating entirely new technologies and industries
  • Promise the introduction of deep social and economic reforms in the first Parliament of the EF. These may include:
    • deep Company law reform, which would constrain the influence of large corporations on the government
    • de-monopolization of media (e.g. maximum 10% of the market per media corporation)
    • changing shareholders rights, e.g. so that the rights of those providing the monetary capital (investors) will be balanced with those providing human capital (employees).
  • Suggest that instead of a referendum ratifying the new Constitution, a Citizens’ Assembly system will be used, to which the members will be randomly selected and work under the guidance of experts to recommend their decision to national parliaments. There is already a similar, more limited, proposal made by President Macron
  • Promise that MPs and MEPs will get a guaranteed retirement pension for the next term, irrespective of whether they would be elected or not as a recompense for a potential lost opportunity to serve another term and prepare them better for the return to ‘life after the Parliament’.