Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Blueprint for a federal superstate?

Speaking in Berlin on the occasion of ‘Europe Day’, EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said that “one day, [Europe] will need an EU President” incorporating the functions of European Council and Commission President, arguing that “Europe needs a strong face and a strong voice.” Barnier also called for the creation of a single representative allowed to speak on behalf of eurozone countries and for a common EU defence policy. Barnier said that the EU diplomatic service should be called the European Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

On defence he pointed out that ‘we need to move towards a truly European defence policy. 60 years on, work on a European defence community needs to be restarted, if necessary through the “structured cooperation” which is now possible under the Lisbon Treaty. A true military staff structure is required, systematically bringing together research efforts and resources, and favouring European products when purchasing equipment. All of this goes far beyond the necessary, but insufficient, cooperation between France and the United Kingdom, or between Germany and Sweden.

The EU needs to set up a permanent capacity to plan and carry out operations in the way suggested by Poland, Germany and France. All in all, the objective must be that Europe is ready to take responsibility more and more for its own collective defence, but also become a robust and credible partner for the United-States.
The EU has legitimacy in the area of defence, as it does in other areas. This is the belief that has led France, under President Sarkozy, to take up its full role within NATO. Everyone who, like me, believes in the North-Atlantic alliance needs to understand that the balance, credibility and strength of the NATO/EU relationship depend on the political impetus which will be given to European defence. It is an issue of trust, and I would recommend that nobody on either side of the Atlantic underestimate this requirement.

The new Europe needs to be a veritable “Federation of Nation States”. It needs a strong identity and a strong voice. One day a future president of the European Union, whoever he or she will be, should both preside over the European Council and chair the European Commission.

The drafters of the Lisbon Treaty were careful not to rule out this major and symbolic step forward. The individual who would become president of the European Union on a proposal from the heads of state and government could have their power vested in them by a Congress comprising both the European Parliament and representatives of the national Parliaments. 

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