United States of Europe


Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian Prime Minister has written an extraordinary piece for this week’s European Voice (sub only). The piece, entitled “Forging ‘United States of Europe’ is key to the future,” is a telling contribution to the post Constitutional, post democratic European Union. First he describes the threats as he sees them to a European hegemony, “it is already clear that in four years’ time the world will have four major powers: the US, China, India and Japan.”

The answer to Guy is obvious, a ‘United States of Europe.’ What is interesting of course is that what he is proposing betrays a striking resemblance to the Europe that was supposed to be created by the unlamented European Constitution. The key areas in which the EU should become one?

“Social protection and taxation…research and development […] transEuropean information networks […] single European Area of justice and security […] joint armed forces […] foreign policy.”

Well, I suppose you cannot fault the ambition. His analysis however is rent through with the arrogance of office. Is it reasonable to hear lectures like this from the political leader of a country (the united states of Belgium?) that flip/flopped its way through the ratification procedure of the European Constitution? One must recall that despite his enormous enthusiasm for the Treaty his country is yet to ratify it, having rejected a referendum on the grounds that they were frightened of the result.

Having had a rejection from the people the response of the euro elite like Verhofstadt is not, “Ok we hear you we will restrain our ambitions”, but an arrogant and blind statement that the people in their wisdom are wrong, “a ‘United States of Europe’ is the only option,” he blithely says.

Rubbish. There are many options, discarding the dead hand of bureaucracy being one. Maybe listening to the democratic voices of the people would be another.

Verhofstalin, (©Paul Belien), is both a symptom and a cause of the malaise his article misdiagnoses. He is a man of the past trying to ensnare and disrupt the future.

Somewhat related - Palmer @ openDemocracy

You may have read Gisela Stuart's critique of Brussels at the openDemocracy site (http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=3030 ). It seems like the lads in EUroland were upset and they came up with a rebuttal written by a John Palmer (political director of the European Policy Centre in Brussels) - http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-opening/stuart_reply_3086.jsp . It gave me great pleasure to fisk that effort at my blog and I figure its too good not to share


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Towards a United States of Europe!!!

I am a European Conservative. I don't like Verhofstadt either. In fact, I loathe him deeply.

But in my opinion a United States of Europe is not only desirable, but ENTIRELY NECESSARY necessary. I am totally fed up with people saying that t would be foolish of nations to cede authority to a supranational government. This is exactly what the thirteen original states did, and see where it got them: the USA is the world's sole hyperpower. It is utterly foolish to seem to lean towards a vision of Europe as some loose confederation of states with only nominal control "from above". In history I know of only one Confederation that let a footprint. It was called the CSA, and it was soundly beaten by a Union.

The European Project has been underway for over 50 years now and has given us immense benefits, he most obvious of which are, of course, the common market, a single currency, free traffic of persons, goods and services.

Is there over-regulation? Yes. Is that entirely bad? No. Granted, there's a lot of nonsense among the laws emanating from "Europe", but why always focus on things like Bavarian bosoms? E.g., an EU law foresees that by 2010 cancer-causing solvents must be gone from painter's inventories. Is that bad? There's a branch of the EU "government" addressing problems like unfair competition, punishing e.g. member states who subsidize companies in favor of others. Is that bad?

And I am TOTALLY fed up with people saying that "Europe" is undemocratic. European laws are voted by the European Parliament. I VOTED for my Europarlementarians!!!

Europe has indeed to grow towards one political, economical and military identity. To finish the European Project like it is today would be like letting the Empire State Building stand in its scaffolds perpetually at half of its size.

Yes, yes, but...

immense benefits, the most obvious of which are, of course, the common market, a single currency, free traffic of persons, goods and services.

I'm interested to know what the evidence is that a single currency has been an "immense benefit". Aside from that, most of what you like about the EU used to be known amongst us old-fashioned folk as "Free Trade".

Bob Doney

Yes, but...

the USA is the world's sole hyperpower.

So you think that what the world needs now is not love sweet love, but another hyperpower? That our security and safety depend on belonging to one? China is clearly intent on being one, and India may well be. Japan and Australia could shelter under the North American umbrella. Iran looks as if it wants to lead a Muslim/Middle East one, and we could easily imagine tacking on Africa to that. The hapless and hopeless Latin Americans look like they may be lining up behind Mr Chavez. Even Russia may one day recover its self-confidence and grab back some of its former empire.

So if we give the kaleidoscope of nations a shake, and if the patterns settle at, say, six hyperpowers, I wonder just what kind of world it would be. Would peace, harmony and prosperity break out everywhere, or would an Orwellian nightmare of permanent war become the reality? I know what my guess is!

We might be better to leave that Empire State Building half-built and encourage others not to try to build theirs. Why, we could even try to think up some kind of global supra-national institution that everyone would feel comfortable belonging to. (Sorry, silly me! I got a bit carried away there for a moment...)

Bob Doney

Do you think it is

Do you think it is impossible for nation States to apply a European law if they were to become a confederacy? NO. They would be less forced to accept all of the crap laws.
Laws that have a negative outcome.
The USSR can be seen as a confederation to some extent. The Netherlands used to be a confederacy.

The defeat of the CSA happened but it could have turned otherwise if the CSA hadnt gone North & remained on the defensive. If only they hadnt lost "Stonewall" Jackson.
There is no ONE European political; economical & military identity. Nor does co-operation on all 3 matters automatically call for a federal state. You can bloody well do so in a Confederacy.
To finish the European project by leaving it be a confederacy is like making sure the Empire State building has sufficient basis to lean on & that the State doesnt become too tall.

We already have it tough to make our own parliamentarians listen to the People; what makes you think Europarliamentarians really give a cr*p? We, the people, have insufficient powers to counteract a EU Federal State. Heck; we have no say in the most important issues...since they're all filling up their pants scared of the outcome of referenda.

A confederacy is an old system; but it can work. It forms a nice balance between Superstate & regional control. A confederacy doesnt stand in the way of economic of military co-operation, look at the CSA! Look at the USSR; if that never was a superpower then I need some medication.

A Distant Observer...

As a distant, American observer, I grow increasingly concerned, even surprised that my European friends would give up so much sovereignty, and even democratic control of government, to an unaccountable and quite frankly corrupt, transnational organization. The only answer I can get from my Polish friend on the usefulness of the EU regards the imports of medicine, I believe it was. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

reply from another Pole

a hint as to what Your Polish friends's reply might mean: many Poles, myself included just don't believe that the EU can survive in its present form. therefore, the attitude becomes somewhat cynical: the rules of accession have changed AFTER we voted to do so (see the "new Europeans" position in the labour market), it's gonna fall apart from plain inefficiency - so let's just try to get sth from it while we can. As the example of France and Germany shows, You can easily violate Your own rules and get away with it, so there's no particular reason for us to be the only idealists.

Russian Flag?

Why is there a Russian Flag on the cover instead of a French one?


I do not know who used "Verhofstalin" (or "Verhofstazi") for the first time. It wasn't me. I think it was André Monteyne (a former Brussels MP of Verhofstadt's Liberal Party) in an article in the March 2004 issue of The European Journal [pdf].

United States of

United States of Europe...What union? What States? Which Europe? Is this EU constitution Bis?

Anyhow: Who really cares about what Verhofstadt thinks?