United States of Europe: Why, How, Who, When?

  • Post comments:0 Comments

Towards a Federal Europe  |

The Federal Alliance of European Federalists (FAEF) published the Constitutional and Institutional Toolkit for the Federal United States of Europe. Four friends of FAEF wrote each a short article about the usefulness and necessity of a federal Europe.



by Javier Giner, President of the “Union Europea de Mallorca”


In the actions to finally be able to establish the United States of Europe after two hundred years, there are four questions to be answered. Why do we need a federal Europe? How are we to achieve it? Who should do it and when can it be ready?

The task of answering these questions I would like to start with a challenging position: Brexit will be BritaIn in a European Federation.

I have two arguments in support of this position. Firstly, after more than 200 years of striving for a federal Europe, it seems that the United States of Europe will finally become the next version of the European system of states. Probably only after a major crisis of the European operating system. Secondly, the United Kingdom will then be able to join that federation of European countries because, in a federation, the Member States remain sovereign. Member States only entrust those things that they cannot take care of themselves to a federal body, without losing their own sovereignty and cultural identity.

The United Kingdom might come back to the countries of the European continent as soon as Europe would become a federal state. There are more European countries that would like to leave the European Union and – maybe – willing to join a federal Europe, provided that they understand that in a federation they do not lose their sovereignty and that they are only getting extras: a federal body takes care of a small number of common interests, interests that an individual Member State can no longer take care of itself in this globalizing world.

Such a process could also be a solution to the protracted conflicts of sovereignty between regions and their motherland. Think, for example, of Scotland and Catalonia. They can be part of a federal Europe as independent sovereign states

Now my answers to the questions Why, How, Who and When.

WHY should the intergovernmental European Union be replaced by the federation of the United States of Europe?

The European Union is in danger of disintegrating. The basic cause is the intergovernmental operating system under the Lisbon Treaty. The Corona crisis has once again proven that the Treaty is an accumulation of national interests. As soon as there is a crisis, that system shows that it cannot serve as a basis for taking care of interests that go beyond the national interests of individual member states. A crisis causes conflicts between EU member states on the one hand, and conflicts between groups of member states and the EU system on the other. As a result, Member States evade rules of the Treaty or further agreements and understandings. So, many signs of a system that is in an identity crisis. The next step is an implosion of the system.

HOW should that be organised?

The Federal Alliance of European Federalists possesses an important document that should serve as a basis for establishing the United States of Europe: ‘the Constitutional and Institutional Toolkit for Establishing the Federal United States of Europe’. This Toolkit shows in detail why and how the European Union is now in a serious identity crisis that will lead to its collapse, how a federal European state system will then evolve, based on standards of federal statehood borrowed from political philosophical thought over several centuries (back to basics), and how the role and task of transnational political parties will change to provide maximum protection for the people of Europe.

WHO should lead that process?

There was no federation of federal movements until we in June 2020

created the federation of the Federal Alliance of European Federalists. It is an umbrella organization under which heterogeneous federal movements find a common federal home. Federal Alliance of European Federalists. This FAEF could and should take the lead of the process of federalising Europe. Its main instrument is a Citizens’ Convention, modeled after the famous Convention of Philadelphia in 1787 that created the first and best federal Constitution in the world. Now there are 27 federale states that house over 42% of the world population. The European Citizens’ Convention’s task would be to improve the ten-articles federal Constitution that are in the possession of FAEF.

WHEN should it begin?

Of course, this process should start today, but there are at least two different possibilities: either start as soon as possible the Citizens’ Convention (depending on available funds) for a federalisation of the whole European Union or start with the federalisation of at least nine EU Member States. Article 20 of the Lisbon Treaty gives at least nine Member States the right to enter into an enhanced form of cooperation. In my view, this can be a federal form. If nine Member States were to do that, they would themselves leave the EU and then rejoin as one. And then, step by step, ‘entice’ more Member States to do the same.

An important advantage of starting with an Article 20 procedure is the fact that these nine Member States are free to accept members who are not yet members of the EU. And even they might be willing to accept certain European regions into the federation that are not happy in the member state where they now live – think of Catalonia, the Basque country, Corsica, Scotland, Wales.




By Jean Marsia, President S€D

Since Victor Hugo’s speech to the Congress of Friends of Universal Peace, which called for the creation of the United States of Europe (USE), Europeans have been unable to unify politically and militarily. This has resulted in tens of millions of deaths and injuries, horrific destruction, and collective downgrading but, in 1990, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has been unable to convince the French President François Mitterrand that federalism is the only relevant form of supranational political integration, that a political Union “would have closed our internal rifts, would have brought us the sharing of a common destiny, a destiny that implies common defence and security responsibilities”.[1]

We are far from it: the European Union (EU) has just a European External Action Service, a Political and Security Committee, a Military Committee, a Military Staff, a Defence Agency, a Satellite Centre, an Institute for Security Studies and a Security and Defence College. Its “strategy” is only a declaration of intent. Without American intelligence, telecommunications and strategic transport assets, Europeans are unable to act. It has been the case recently in the northern part of Syria, to the detriment of our Kurdish allies against Daesh. This encourages cyberattacks, autocratic aggression and Islamist terrorist attacks against us.

Recently, in Moscow, the High Representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, has been humiliated, because he just can rely on EU’s Soft Power and has no weight on the geopolitical scene, despite the fact that, in 2019, the European States have spent $356 billion on defence, half of the $731 billion Defense budget of the United States of America (USA), but could only generate 5 to 6% of their military capabilities.

In 1787, the Americans realized with a federal constitution their unity of political-military command. We lack that, and their single defence staff, to help us to spend better. In 2016, the European Defence Agency (EDA) counted 154 types of weapon systems in Europe to 27 in the USA, for example 20 models of fighter aircraft (to 6), 29 classes of frigates (to 4) and 20 types of armored vehicles (to 2). By improving the efficiency of defence spending in personnel, material, operations and training, the USE would release far more resources than currently for equipment, research & development.

A unified defence goods and services market would allow an innovative defence industrial policy and economies of scale, making our industrial and technological defence base (DI&TB) more competitive, particularly in the naval and land armament sectors. The airspace sector, in particular Airbus, Ariane and MBDA, shows us the path towards European renewal and reindustrialization, by increasing links between university research laboratories, technology developers and associated services.

Like in the USA, USE Defence would play an important role in the governance and promotion of innovation, by accelerating technological change through the development of research management tools. Europe needs to preserve and develop our strategic skills and key producers. The need was particularly shown by the pandemics Covid-19.

Investment, especially in research, is the employment of tomorrow. Employers are asking for skills that we did not talk about five years ago, for example a social network manager. To succeed, it needs to be able to quickly acquire the skills needed to fulfill the new functions and to be able to innovate. This reorientation can only be achieved with a new entrepreneurship and better trained workers because development needs innovative employees with recognized skills, well-paid, stable jobs, and active participation in decision-making.

The USE should encourage companies to organize positive human relations and support those who have succeeded in building on the enthusiasm, cohesion, creativity, and efficiency of their staff. Under this condition, labor productivity would increase, with new jobs requiring higher levels of knowledge, skills, and qualifications. This would restore a sufficiently large middle class and reverse the process of dualization of society.

In the absence of such a collective effort, Europe will remain a less and less sovereign free-trade area, where consumers will find cheaper and cheaper products, but will remain at the mercy of foreign powers.

How should that be done?

There are four legal avenues for uniting Europe, but neither integration, attempted within the EU, nor cooperation within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), have in 70 years ensured our union, our security and our defence, which is entrusted to the Americans, and even less the continuous and effective control of governments by the citizens. A confederation has only two outcomes: it dissolves, like the Confederation of Independent States, heir to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1990, or it transforms itself into a federation, like the USA in 1787, Switzerland in 1848 and Germany in 1949.

Three drafts of a ‘constitutional treaty’ failed’ in 1954, 1984 and 2005, for political reasons, but also because such a text is an oxymoron. A treaty is multilateral and external to the State. A constitution sets out the fundamental rights of citizens, the principles on which the legitimacy of political power is based and the general architecture of the institutions; it is a unilateral act of internal public law, at the top of the hierarchy of the State’s legal norms. As a social contract, it initiates a process of unification of peoples, the gradual formation of a civic spirit and a common culture since the existence of a central political power is necessary for the foundation of the State.

To unite Europe, the expandable core method has proved its worth. BENELUX abolished its internal borders in 1975. Ten years later, in Schengen, France and Germany joined the initiative. In 2020, 26 States were part of this zone, but its coherence is weakening due to the lack of a federal governance, capable of guarding the coasts and external borders of the zone. The € zone has grown from 9 to 19 States, partly because the European Central Bank is functionally federal.

Appointing a Constituent Assembly for the USE would mean a change of political model, governance, and dimension for Europe. It would correspond to the will of the European people for a federal, democratic, legitimate, transparent, autonomous, sovereign, and independent Europe, which ensures the dissemination of our values and culture, the protection of our interests and the future of next generations of Europeans.

Who should do it?

Very small States, with little sovereignty, because they are members of NATO, the EU and the € zone, will form the core of the USE, by fixing the share of sovereignty, the missions, and the means to be transferred, by appointing a Constituent Assembly and adopting the text drafted by it. Those States will be the most motivated because the efficiency of their public spending will increase more and faster than that of the middle powers.

When should it take place?

As soon as possible, and at least after the 2024 elections to the European Parliament. After this date, a disunited Europe will no longer represent something compared to the USA and China. If only to ensure lasting confidence in the €, to watch over our security, including in the face of pandemics, and for efficient defence, coast and border guard, we need a strong European executive power, a substantial federal budget, and a politico-military integration.

The legal basis for which can only be found in a federal constitution, that of the USE, which must be powerful and peaceful, capable of exerting influence in international relations, to contribute to the solution of global problems of a security, migration, economic, monetary, and environmental nature.

The USE would balance the transatlantic link, guarantee our security, peace, freedoms, and fundamental rights, stabilise our neighbourhood, eradicate there the Islamist terrorism by promoting good governance, respect for the rule of law and economic and social development.

[1] See Henri Bentégeat, « Quelles aspirations pour la défense européenne ? » in Álvaro de Vasconcelos (dir.), Quelle défense européenne en 2020?, Paris, IESUE, 3e éd., March 2010.




 by Yannis Karamitsios 

 Why should we establish the United States of Europe?

Europe faces a set of broad existential threats which, if left unchallenged, will likely push it permanently to the margins of the international community and history. These threats are a mix of global issues and ones specific to Europe, framed by the competition with other continents. They constitute Europe’s:

  • economic, financial, and productive decline compared to the rest of the world
  • demographic stagnation
  • climate change and its consequences for food and water shortages
  • energy dependence on other regions
  • exclusion from the leading edge of technological innovations.

Those challenges can only be effectively addressed if the many small European states unite under the umbrella of truly federal structure.

We thus propose that the EU -and other European countries- shift to a federal sovereign state, entitled the ‘United States of Europe’ (USE). All EU member states and the UK, as well as like-minded countries from Scandinavia, the Balkans and central Europe, would voluntarily surrender their sovereignty and become constituent states of the new federal entity.

This scenario is the choice we propose to the people of Europe, even if it is the most difficult one, particularly in an era of growing euro-scepticism and resistance to globalisation. Yet it is the only way for Europe to stay at centre-stage in world affairs and avoid marginalisation. Only this formula offers Europe the chance to be a leader and provider of progress, wealth, and ideas rather than their passive follower and recipient. Linking together is the best way for us to become stronger and more effective in defending and projecting our interests and values.

However, addressing Europe’s existential challenges is not the only reason to move in that direction. A federal Europe would become a major, self-sufficient geopolitical power, as strong as or stronger than the USA, Russia, or China. It would be a model for other regional federations around the planet. Ultimately, it could inspire a global federation of nations based on the principles of peaceful co-existence, human rights, social justice, and sustainable development.

How should that be done and who should do it?

A first set of preparatory steps would need to be taken by the EU member states at inter-governmental level, without need to change the EU Treaties. These steps could be completed within four years and would create the political and economic framework for ensuring a smooth transition to the USE. They would require that all EU member states:

  • agree at intergovernmental level to join their defence forces under a joint command, military doctrine, and budget
  • join the eurozone, with no opt-outs;
  • approve at intergovernmental level a joint fiscal policy that unifies their financial assets and liabilities. This would include limits on public deficits, debt, borrowing and spending policies – all supervised and coordinated by a member of the European Commission who would be designated as a kind of eurozone’s Minister of Finance.

These three steps would be crucial to forge a joint economic, monetary and defence space preceding the new federal sovereign state’s creation. At the same time, another set of steps would be taken in parallel as a road map specifically aiming at the creation of the USE. These include in chronological order

  1. Creation of a European constituent assembly to draft the constitution and agree on the USE’s establishment, with a view to succeeding the EU and its member states. The assembly would consist of members of the European Parliament (MEPs), members of national parliaments of the EU’s member states, officials from EU governments, and representatives of professional organisations and civil society. Following its creation, the Assembly would have to produce the draft constitution within two years.
  2. Referendums would take place in all EU member states and other willing European states to establish the USE. This would require a 55% “yes” vote and a turn-out higher than 50% of a nation’s registered voters. As an alternative, and instead of a referendum, accession could be decided by a national parliament’s qualified majority at at least three-fifths (3/5) of its members.
  3. The USE’s creation would take place with the accession of at least 20 states. For the union to have a realistic chance of survival, France, Germany, and Italy would have to belong to its core. Other EU member states that voted against joining the federation would remain independent sovereign countries. They could create, together with the USE, a new economic partnership based on a customs union, internal market, and integrated co-operation in important sectors as is the case today with the European Economic Area (EEA).
  4. Immediately after the formal establishment of the use, the first elections would take place for the USE parliament, which in turn would elect the USE’s first government and president. All important institutions would be established within a transitional period of three years.

We believe this schedule would be realistic.

When should it take place?

 Ideally, right after the conclusion of the two-years conference on the future of Europe, which should not be postponed by the pandemic anymore and start as soon as possible. Historic time is condensed, European people and governments have realised the need for deeper European integration in the post-pandemic period. Unification of health policies, issuance of Eurobonds and other similar steps, unimaginable before 2020, are already a reality and perhaps the raw material for the next big quantum leap towards a European federation.

Yannis Karamitsios is a Greek and EU citizen. He lives in Brussels, works for the European Commission and is member of Alliance 4 Europe, a group promoting European unity and values. The views expressed in this text are strictly personal and do not necessarily represent those organisations.




Joel Boehme & Mihaela Sirițanu – Board Members, Volt Europa

Why do we need a federal Europe?

We need a truly democratic, federal European republic that can represent the interests of all her citizens. Over the decades, Europe has grown into the guarantor of rights, trade and our shared European heritage. The next step is a democratic union of peoples and values. By developing into a full-fledged federal democracy, the European Union can become a truly legitimate polity, protecting the needs of all Europeans. Without a united Europe, European countries will remain divided and weak, unable to stand strong against the superpowers of the world. By being federal, this united Europe can adapt to the beautiful tapestry of member states, all with their own cultures and needs. A federal Europe faces the world united, is ready to meet the future, but remains flexible enough to maintain legitimacy across the continent.

How should it be organised?

Europe needs a constitution. It must foresee a European government, led by a prime minister held accountable by the Parliament. This European Parliament requires full legislative powers, as the government would replace today’s Commission. As for the council, it ought to be reforged into an upper house of Parliament with equal representation for the states. The institutions should be overseen by a European president that can represent all of Europe. That way, people are empowered as citizens of Europe, not only of allied member states. Overall, however, the federal European republic should be organised according to the principle of subsidiarity, with political levels having clear and exclusive competences: decisions should be taken as locally as is beneficial for citizens.

Who should do it?

Europe must be united by her citizens, the European people. For that, people must organise themselves in Pan-European parties. While Volt has taken lead here, Volt must by no means be the last of its kind. It is crucial that political movements of all colours and inclinations, eventually organise themselves across European borders. That way, we can all debate vigorously, all the issues on which we disagree profoundly, within a European framework. If we wait for Europe to federalise before we, the people, start acting as if Europe is a united polity, we will never unite. Instead, European parties must emerge urgently. That way, the political framework will have to adapt to the political parties and representatives in whom people invest their trust. Naturally, the adoption of a European constitution will require broad alignment, if not referenda across the member states, which of course will have to go beyond only representatives of political parties, but the core principle remains: the unification of Europe must be enacted by the people.

When should it be ready?

It is incredibly difficult to foresee how many years it’ll take until a European constitution can be adopted by its people, but there are things we can do today already. We can continue to push for pan-European parties, and build legitimacy across the continent for transnational partisanship. While it may indeed take decades before a European constitution is adopted, we can already today continue to organise ourselves across borders to prove the point: the European people exists.

Leave a Reply