by Mauro Casarotto |
The war in Ukraine strengthens public opinion that Europe needs a common defense. Shortcomings now become painfully visible. This is not a novelty. The need for a European common defence has been discussed often, with ups and downs, starting with the end of World War II.
Since the initial proposal, in 1950, to establish a European Defense Community this initiative – that eventually failed – was based on intergovernmental agreements and thus still managed by individual states. In effect, states retained their sovereign control over their own armies. Within such an intergovernmental treaty-based organization, states decide what forces and equipment shall be allocated to the common system – and of course what forces and equipment remain at the disposal of national defence. States decide if they commit to these intergovernmental agreements or not, if they are called upon. And in the case of these arrangements, each state has its own foreign policy. Such an arrangement in the current situation then means 27 foreign policies.
As an inevitable result defence and intelligence will be disconnected from one cohesive and consistent foreign policy/diplomacy.
Without a constitution-based European Federation that can actually formulate and implement a transnational foreign policy, a European defense is de facto just another military alliance, a duplicate of NATO and Europe is still dependent on the United States for its security and defense.
So, by maintaining a treaty-based approach to a common European defence, politicians are consciously trying to secure Europe’s safety with a form of European defence that is doomed to even a bigger failure. This is lack of responsibility and of courage.
If a federal approach is not decided on, the same mistake will be made as with the introduction of the Euro, where although a number of European states (19 of the 27 EU members) share the same currency, there is no federal budget and no common general economic strategy, as is the case in federal unions such as the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and others.
Today, Europe remains a half billion inhabitants’ bloc with common needs and interests, a highly interconnected culture and history, a sense of togetherness now established in the younger generations, but in the absence of political unity.
The fact that Europe lacks a federal approach to foreign policy, and lacks a European military force organized accordingly, undoubtedly contributed to Putin’s decision to attack the Ukraine. Recent history has shown with irrefutable clarity how often weakness and unpreparedness have made autocrats more aggressive and willing to take risks. As Leo Klinkers and Ingo Piepers wrote in the previous article published by Europe Today, there are many parallels between today’s situation and that of 1938-1939.
The question now is how long we should allow this unfortunate situation to continue for Europe.
Russia’s invasion has created a systemic crisis in Europe: it is not just the Ukraine that is at stake, but also our European values and our political system and security strategy.
The creation of a true European Federation will not only clear the way for an urgently needed European foreign and defense policy and for its implementation, but also lay the foundation for a Euro currency with matching federal policy instruments, an adequate approach to the new refugee crisis we are confronted with, but also for an effective approach to managing nuclear energy, climate change and emergencies like pandemics and migrations.
There are now threats, risks but also great opportunities. A constitution-based European Federation is necessary to be able to face these threats and take advantage of opportunities.
The prospect for Ukraine for membership of a European Federation would offer the population of Ukraine a perspective; a perspective that can also make a crucial contribution to ending this systemic crisis, for an enlarged and safer Europe in the long term.
Without a constitution-based European federation, not only our common defense is built on quicksand, but our whole future. The decisive difference between a weak intergovernmental system such as the European Union and a true federal system lies in the replacement of the instrument of treaties with a federal constitution.
The continued efforts of the Federal Alliance of European Federalists (FAEF), to now write a European constitution that forms the foundation for a Federal Europe, is currently the only European project aiming to fill this unbearable gap.
Since October 2021, the FAEF’s Citizens’ Convention has been working tirelessly on a ten-article Federal Constitution for Europe. This Convention consists of highly motivated European Citizens and is supported by constitutional law experts.
The FAEF’s Citizens’ Convention is almost done with its work, but support from Europe’s citizens and civil society is crucial for the success of this extremely important project for the future of Europe. We count on your support. The next step is the ratification of the European Federal Constitution, of course directly by the citizens of Europe. After all, Europe is yours too, and that too is laid down in the Constitution. More information about FAEF’s Citizens’ Convention can be find here: https://www.faef.eu/en_gb/operation-fec/ .
Mauro Casarotto – General Manager Europe Today