Four European countries signed a document calling for more European integration. They proposed to enhance the EMU in its social dimension, to make the EU more democratic and to harmonise EU states’ foreign policies. Are we witnessing a revival of the dream of the Founding Fathers of the European Union?
A document calling for a faster and deeper European integration was signed on the 14th of September by the presidents of the Lower Chambers of the Parliament of Italy (Laura Boldrini), France (Claude Bartolone), Germany (Norbert Lammert) and Luxembourg (Mars di Bartolomeo) in Rome. The document, addressed to the other European partners, makes bold statements about the future of the European Union, and even hints at a possible “Federal Union of States”.
This declaration has been written as the EU is living difficult times: during the last months the Greek crisis, terrorism and the massive arrivals of refugees have made obvious that the EU as we know it today is not ready to deal with all the challenges is going to be confronted with. These themes and others, such as climate change, unnemployment and inequality are tackled in the text. According to the four residents, there is one potential solution to these difficulties: “more and not less European Union. (...) The ongoing integration process should not be limited to economic and financial policies, the single market and the agricultural policies. On the contrary, it should include all the aspects related to the European ideal, such as the social and cultural dimensions, as well as foreign policy, security and defence”.
It is not the first time that politicians call for more EU this year
These words resonate with other calls that have been made throughout the “last chance Commission”. For instance, during the State of the Union, Juncker said famously: “there is not enough Europe in this Union. And there is not enough Union in this Union”. On March, in the context of the tensions with Russia concerning the Ukrainian crisis, he evoked the possibility of a “joint EU army”. The "Five Presidents’ Report", finally, sets out a plan for strengthening Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union, by proposing a fiscal Union and introducing a social dimension in the EU policies. It seems that we are witnessing a revival of the European federalist dream, as a reaction to the inconsistencies of the current EU.
On the other side, however, eurosceptic parties have been gaining popularity throughout the EU. UKIP in the UK, the Front National in France, the People’s Party in Denmark, North League in Italy and others have gained support and credibility. What is more, the UK has convened a “Brexit” referendum, questioning the irreversibility of the EU and possibly opening the way to other referenda that could undermine the European integration process.
It seems that we are in front of a double movement: on the one side, several states see a deepening of European integration as the solution to our current problems and on the other side other states do not want to further pool their sovereignty.
A reinforced role of the Parliaments
The document signed in Rome puts also the accent on the role of the Parliaments: according to Lammert, we need a «new and reinforced role of the Parliaments: we are not rivals with the EU Parliament, on the contrary we are partners».
This is surely another field in which progresses need to be done: the national Parliaments have been more and more excluded from the European dialogue; some improvements have been done when with the Lisbon treaty the Parliaments gained the power to scrutinise draft EU laws to see if they respect the principle of subsidiarity, but this is not enough. This is true especially because EU elections are still perceived as less important than national elections. In fact, besides the reluctance of EU member states to pool sovereignty, another enormous problem arise when we take into account the apathy of millions of European citizens to the EU. To them, the EU institutions are remote and do not represent them. And here is the main obstacle that has to be overcome before more integration can happen: the absence of a European people and of a European public space. A “Federal Union of States” is not impossible, but the European peoples and not only the national institutions have to want it.
For the whole declaration press here(in Italian)