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European Federalism: objectives for the near future and collaboration with the WFM

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by Pilar Llorente Ruiz de Azua, UEF Europe Federal Committee Member, and Doménec Ruiz Devesa, UEF Europe Executive Bureau Member

The 70th anniversary of the 1948 Congress of the Hague this year and the 60th anniversary last year of the 1957 Treaties of Rome, which established the predecessor of the European Union, to look back at the achievements of post WW II multilateralism and regional integration and look forward to pursue the waiting goals of European and world federalism.

The first sixty years of European integration have undoubtedly brought peace and social and economic progress in Europe. It has extended regional cohesion, incentivized the full democratization of European countries, allowed the free circulation of goods and services, capital and citizens, and created a political community based on the rule of law, shared values, and a respect for diversity. The progressive pooling of sovereignties and the increasing competences of truly supranational institutions, such as the European Court of Justice, the European Commission, the European Parliament, under the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, have been instrumental in all these achievements, which would not have occurred in a purely intergovernmental setting.

Still, the EU is not a completed project, lacking the instruments to tackle more effectively main societal challenges, and to do so with full democratic legitimacy. Some of the main challenges ahead include an increased EU budget that allows public Pan-European investments in sustainable development and climate change mitigation; the development of the triple banking, fiscal and economic union to complement the monetary union; the deepening in the social dimension of the European Union; the establishment of common, integrated and humane asylum migration policies or the strengthening of the defence and external action policies.

The enabling element for these changes to happen is complete political union based on a federal constitution that goes beyond the current treaties, in particular by abolishing national vetoes and full co-decision in all policies between Council (the Member States) and Parliament and attributing more powers to the Union in foreign affairs, security, migration, and social policy.

Therefore, the launching of a Constitutional convention, based on a pro-integration proposal made by the next European Parliament, remains one of the key goals for European federalists of the near future.

At the same time, to a great extent the short-term agenda for European federalists will be determined by the May 2019 elections of the European Parliament. The Union of European Federalists (UEF) also supports a deeper europeanization of the elections to ensure genuine public debate on European matters to avoid voting along national lines, the consolidation of European political parties instead of mere political families composed of national parties, and the reinforcement of the so-called Spitzenkandidaten process, i.e. awarding the Commission presidency to the head of the list of the party or coalition of parties that commands the largest majority in the chamber.

The UEF also calls for further federalization of the international system and an EU external agenda that supports the democratization and supranationalization of the United Nations.

In the same way that the European Parliament plays a key role in European integration, the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) would be a decisive step towards the democratization of the UN and global decision making, allowing citizens, and not only governments, to influence the discussion around global challenges. UEF Europe has approved different resolutions in support of the UNPA, as has the European Parliament.

Along with the UNPA and the reform of the UN Security Council, the WFM leads initiatives intended to result in the development of more democratic global governance, such as the already established International Criminal Court, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, the work towards a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court against Transnational Organized Crime. Further efforts at the global level need to be undertaken to fight climate change, work against growing inequality, democratize the WTO, and stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Governance based only on intergovernmental agreements between nominally sovereign nation-states in an interdependent world lacks the necessary democratic accountability and effectiveness to tackle pressing global challenges, such as climate change, economic globalization, and migration flows. This is especially important as some major powers show a distrust in multilateralism, a return to economic nationalism, an undermining of democracy within their borders, or an increase in barriers to the free movement of people.

European and world federalists need to join forces to support supranational democratic institutions both at the macro-regional and global level that allow citizens to gain political control over the management of global issues, achieve greater accountability, and build a fairer globalization.

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