Sixty years ago the Declaration of Robert Schuman changed the course of European history. It had the virtue of brevity and clarity. It was bold, and at once visionary and down to earth.
“Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.”
The proposal to pool the coal and steel production of France and Germany made the two states depend on each other for mutual well-being. Their destiny was shared.
“The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe …”.
Their example was to be followed by others. The new coal and steel community was from the outset “open to all countries willing to take part”.
“In this way there will be realised simply and speedily that fusion of interests which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by bloody divisions. By pooling basic production and by instituting a new higher authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany, and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realisation of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.”
Sixty years on, after many successes and some failures, the goal of Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet to create a European federation has come closer. Sovereignty is pooled to a great extent in the European Union, whose constitutional architecture has many federal characteristics. The recent entry into force of the Lisbon treaty has widened the competences of the Union and strengthened the powers of its institutions. Yet building a federal Europe is still work in progress. Much remains to be done.
The single market has still to be completed, not least in the services sector, intellectual property, science research and energy.
The financial system needs to be made more transparent, buoyant and progressive, equipping the EU with the money it needs to fulfil its political objectives and meet the demands of its citizens. The EU needs more capacity to raise revenue, borrow and lend in order to boost investment in European public goods such as education, green technology and infrastructure.
EU budgetary policy should promote Europe’s economic recovery. In the impending mid-term review of the budget and in the design of the new multi-annual financial framework from 2013, spending should be transferred from the national to the federal level where economies of scale and cost efficiencies can be made, or to correct market failure. This is particularly the case in the military sector where the European Defence Agency shows the way forward. Conversely, where EU expenditure is no longer appropriate, national treasuries should play a larger role.
Current negotiations on strengthening the regulatory framework for the financial sector should drive towards the eventual establishment of a single EU supervisor for transnational financial services.
A return to fiscal rectitude and tinkering with the Stability and Growth Pact is not enough. An economic government is now urgently required, above all within the eurozone, with sufficient executive authority to oblige the state governments to adopt mutually reinforcing economic policies within an overall common strategy aimed at the twin objectives of stability and competitiveness.
We urge the task force established under the authority of President Van Rompuy to emulate the Schuman Declaration in terms of courage and clarity of purpose. The members of the European Council must accept individual responsibility and be held accountable for their collective decisions.
The European External Action Service must be set up as fast as possible with all the resources it needs to correct the current dislocated and uncoordinated external activities of the Union. The Commission and Council should set aside their institutional jealousies and follow the logic of the Lisbon treaty to establish a common diplomatic service with the capability of turning the Union into an impressive actor on the world stage.
Those states which are militarily capable and politically willing should move soon to form an integrated defence structure on a permanent basis, as foreseen by the Lisbon treaty.
The European Parliament must continue to upgrade its performance. The European political parties should revitalise themselves by campaigning to make a reality of EU citizenship and championing the development of the common area of freedom, security and justice. We strongly support the proposal to establish a transnational constituency for a certain number of MEPs in time for the 2014 elections.
We the undersigned Presidents of two long-standing federalist organisations in Europe call on the institutions of the European Union and on national parliaments to recall the motivation behind the Schuman Declaration and to confirm the Union’s mission to peace, solidarity and enlargement. These are the next steps towards the building of a European federation.
Andrew Duff MEP, President of UEF Philippe Adriaenssens, President of JEF