Wednesday, 10 July 2013
We do not want the United States of Europe - We want a federal Res Publica Europea
In the last weeks I learned a lot about federalism, what it means for many, what it means for my friends what it means for me. I understood the problem I have with most federalism in politics and the problem I have with those who think that a European federal system mirrored from the United States of America is a great idea.
It might sound a bit odd when I say that the only thing that federalism in Europe can mean is a federal Respublica Europea. Most do not even understand the name of this idea.
But to make it easy. Europe is not America, the United States are not the European Union. This should be easy to understand. The one thing that unites the United States of America is until know the language. It is not the spirit of the people who live there, it is not the idea of being one people not even being one nation.
The peoples of the United States of America are divers like any other population of any other continent. What does however unite them is their language. This language is the language of law in which the original constitution of the United States of America was written.
Now we do not have this common language. Our Lingua Franca is English, so much is true, but it is not our common language. We all speak different languages, we are all born in different places which have their own languages. Europe's languages and the dialects in these languages are one of the main arguments why we can speak of a wide ranging diversity in Europe. Because if are honest, there is not much difference between us Europeans left. We all know the same music, not the old songs of our grandparents, but the MTV Top 100; we all know the same movies, not those of cultural value, but the Holly and Bolly blockbusters; We all wear the same clothes, designed in Europe, produced in Asia; If we have our own rooms we all go to IKEA; We all like to drink wine, beer and hard alcohols, love to spent time in cafés and enjoy life as much as possible. if we want fast food we all eat pita, kebab, pizza or burger. Though when it comes to food, we all know where we come from. There is nothing that is as remarkable in our memory as the food of our childhood. We identify with this memory and love use our native language to describe it, because only in this language we are able to define exactly what this memory tastes like. When we are angry we all swear in our mother tongue, not because it sounds better, but because it is more accurate. This brings us back to why we are not united as the peoples in the United States are united. It also is my argument why we should not and actually can not aim for the United States of Europe. If we do this, we go against our peoples, against ourselves.
To stay ourselves and to go against our peoples we have to acknowledge where we come from and who we are. We have to change our perception of what being a European means. We have to find a way to accept that we all come not only from different places, but from different cultural backgrounds. We have to understand which chances this bears instead of always trying to find away to get over the problems we see in this diversity. Europe is not chaotic but slowly grown. Every part of this continent is grown at on its own in the environment of being part of a continental growing acting, reacting and interacting society of peoples. We all have our own, our cultural and our common history. This is the reason why we are different, why we are not one people, why we will not be one nation, but why we actually have a good reason to live together in on public system. Because in the end, what we all have in common by now as well, is the high rate of dissatisfaction with the political systems and the politicians who run these systems; either as representatives or as payroll staff.
If we start considering our diversity as a chance we might get to the consideration of the benefits this diversity brings with it.
Federalism is, by the definition I use, a structural idea of how the balance of power in a political system is guaranteed. The core argument thereby is that the more spread the power in this political system is carried out, the more does this system need to have equally powerful knots to balance the carried out power.
The political system of the European Union is right now a network of representative democracies interacting with each other within a collection of treaties, regulations and laws which manage the rights and duties of each of the democratic systems within the Union, by granting every system a diverse range of opt outs through the backdoor. The agreements of governments - each constitutionally representing its peoples - are until today able to whitewash their actions of diversion for the foundation of a balance of power mechanism which grants every power out carrying part the same rights and duties within the Union. The lack of an overall arching jurisdictional framework which determines a framework to guarantee the balance of power in the European Union is an essential problem of the European project as such. It is even more so surprising that this lack is not fostering the debate about who actually holds the power in the political system of the European Union, guaranteed by the constitutions of the many representative democracies in the European Union.
In each of the democracies the power out carrying entity is the citizen. The individual who enjoys the full constitutional guaranteed rights of the representative democracy is is living is, is commonly defined as a citizen. But if the power out carrying entity is the citizen and even if this power has been handed on to representatives who are acting as parliament on behalf of the vote of the citizens, the mechanism to guarantee the balance of power in the political system has to be as wide spread as the power is carried out.
The amount of power the representatives have in regard to the structural level of representation they officiate in the political system does not differ between each structural level since each representative who acts on vote of the citizens is legitimated with the same power: the vote of the citizens. The amount of votes a representative gets to represent in the parliament does not make a difference, since the this person got the minimum amount of needed votes by the constituency which could vote for a representative. Under the idea that every citizen is - in a democratic system - equal to the other citizens the amount of citizens voting for a representative who has to reach a certain threshold can not make a difference because equality is the qualifying variable in a democracy while the amount of votes a candidate needs to reach a threshold is depending on the size of the constituency the candidate runs for office. Since a system looses efficiency if it replicates its horizontal structure on every vertical structural level in the political system, it is needed that the officiated representation in the political system is in accordance with the minimal needed size of constituency on the citizens level to legitimate the candidate on the vertical level he is representing in. This does however lead to the fact that the structure of carrying out power in the political system of the European Union is not pyramidal but cylindrical, since all power to each and every representative is given by the citizens, not on their behalf but by their vote. The difference between the representatives is defined by the realm of jurisdictional reach of the vertical level which they represent while the subsidiarity principle is regulating the level of representation needed to carry out power on vote of the citizen. Each and every government which is not directly, but indirectly elected by the representatives of the citizens, is from this perspective only for administrative reasons bearable to guarantee a running workflow between the levels of representation with in this system. It has to act as a general secretariat which distributes information towards and settles conflicts within the horizontal level, coordinates and has to execute the decisions made by the responsible parliamentary representation. To facilitate the decision making process each of these governments has a consultatory role towards the parliament it is elected by to improve law making by including best practices. It has to be heard. However no indirect, by the representatives, elected, government has the legal competence to decide on laws or binding regulations nor treaties between any of the parts of the political system.
To federalise the European Union hence means to redefine our perception of the citizenship in the the political system of the European Union. If the citizen is the one who holds the power in the political system of the European Union we need to reconsider what being a citizen of the European Union actually means. This implies that the European Union needs, before any other change towards a federal European Union is even possible, a constituting agreement between all governments of in the European Union determining the full European citizenship with all rights every national citizen has in the member state including full voting rights for every vote in the inhabited constituency. Only if every citizen has the full right to take part in the European society where ever living, Europe becomes a public good, a res publica, and as such can be handed back into public ownership of the citizens. The promotion of this goal should, in my opinion be the first action of every federalist.
With all the differences Europe - as geographic location with a diverse range of cultures and languages - conjoins, a European citizenship is only possible, if we overcome the idea that all these cultures can not live within the same overarching jurisdictional framework under which all citizens have the same rights and duties. Our cultural backgrounds do not unite us as a nation of Europeans who all have the same goal, but because the idea of the United States of Europe would mean to overcome our cultural differences for the sake of having pyramidal federal system which disregards the citizen as the only legitimate entity to carry out power in the political system of the European Union this can not and must not be the aim of federalism in my understanding. What federates us is our common history and culture on this continent besides the history and cultures of the societies we grew up in and identified with; the wish to be able to live where ever on this continent without loosing our full constitutional rights; the possibility to work under the same rights as those who live in the country they originate from.
Europeans tend to leer at the constitution of the United States of America as a blueprint for a democratic constitution of a federal Europe. This is blindfold and neglects the great history and he achievements of the European peoples who fought relentlessly for their citizenship rights in the preceding centuries and decades against kings, occupiers, invaders, dictators, empires and corrupted regimes. It also disregards the fact that we, the citizens of Europe, know best how to live together and to create a constitutional framework that grants us all the same rights.