EUROPEAN THINK-TANK REVIEW – XV. (May 2014)

Written by | Thursday, May 15th, 2014
European Values

Heading towards a European Federation – Europe’s Last Chance
Roger Godino and Fabien Verdier (Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute)
During the ongoing crisis characterized by high unemployment, the European Union still finds itself in a period of stagnation. Opinion polls show that more and more people start to view the EU project negatively. The authors of this study consider the poor structure of the EU, which has more bureaucratic than democratic foundations, as the main cause of this stagnation.  According to the authors, we need more effective political organization with greater democratic control, powerful political leaders and deeper integration. This can be achieved only through the establishment of a true European Federation.
By creating a federation, a government built on principles of parliamentary democracy would occur, thereby more democratic supervision and a suitable environment for the implementation of the investment plans and new impulses for promotion of growth will be created. The principle of subsidiarity would be applied in the Federation. Under this principle, areas of cooperation addressed at the federal and national levels would be defined. At the federal level, states would cooperate in the economic and financial spheres, energy, internal infrastructure, scientific research, and defense.
With the creation of the European Federation, a new institutional organization will be established. The guarantor of democratic supervision will be in the form of a bicameral parliament. The lower house of the federal parliament will have 300 members delegated by the national parliaments of the Member States. The number of the delegated members will depend on the size of the Member State’s population. The upper chamber of the federal parliament will have 80 members who shall be appointed by the upper houses of parliament in the Member States. The number of delegates will depend on the country’s share of the total GDP of the Federation. Both chambers will meet in Congress, where the president of the Federation will be elected. The president would choose the prime minister, who would then need to be approved by both chambers of parliament. The prime minister then appoints the European government. The main decision making power lies with the European Council. Another important body is the Federation Council of the nation states, which will be composed of three representatives from each country, who are appointed by national governments with the consent of the parliament.
The authors assume that the European Federation will have six to seven founding members (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and possibly Poland). The international agreement concluded between them will have the character of a Constitution. Gradually, other members of the euro area will be able to join the Federation. With regard to the Great Britain, authors claim that it would remain a member of the EU but not of the Federation.
(The study can be uploaded here:
http://www.notre-europe.eu/media/towardseuropeanfederation-godinoverdier-ne-jdi-feb14.pdf?pdf=ok)

An Analysis of the Agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020
Mario Kölling a Cristina Serrano Leal (Elcano Royal Institute)
At the end of the last year, after more than two years of complicated negotiations, the representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission agreed on the final form of the multiannual financial framework, i.e. the EU budget, for the 2014-2020 period. The authors of this study analyzed in detail the individual chapters of the budget and they introduce its principal innovations. They also seek to find out who are the winners and losers of the negotiating process.
For the first time in its history, the EU will manage less money than in the previous period, because the budget will be cut down by three and a half percent.  Some member governments, particularly those that contribute the most to the EU budget, favored and pushed for the spending to be cut during the negotiation process. Therefore, they stood in the opposition to the representatives of the European institutions, and it was not only to the EU Commission but also newly to the European parliament. The European institutions have seen the budget as a tool to stimulate growth and combat unemployment in the Member States.
As the authors of the study point out, the EU missed the opportunity to take advantage of the negotiations on a new financial framework to transform the budget into a tool that would support the growth and effectively help to overcome the economic crisis. The result is a financial framework, with some modifications to the distribution of funds, which largely follows the structure of the previous framework. Out of the modifications, we could mark the reduction of expenditures on the common agricultural policy and, on the contrary, the growth in the volume of resources to increase competitiveness, growth and employment, including support for research and innovation being its most important components. The new financial framework has also several innovative features, such as a greater role for the European Investment Bank or the so-called extension of the macroeconomic conditionality, which ties the allocation of structural funds to the economic management of the country. While the new multi-annual financial framework of the European Union does not in any case bring revolution to the European finance politics, admittedly, certain incremental improvements are evident.
(The study can be uploaded here:
http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/web/rielcano_en/contenido?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/elcano/elcano_es/zonas_es/europa/wp2-2014-kolling-serrano-analysis-agreement-multiannual-financial-framework-2014-2020#.U3Ivn3Z9mxg)

Eurosceptics in the European Parliament
Daniela Kietz and Nicolai von Ondarza (Stiftung Wissenschaftund Politik)
Eurosceptics form an integral part of the European Parliament (EP) and they worked in almost all sides of the political spectrum, spanning the extreme right to the conservatives and the left. However, for the first time, the Eurosceptic factions and parties are being formed and are gaining support across the countries of Western and Northern Europe.
However, according to the study, it is not realistic for the Euroskeptics to gain the majority in the EP. The influence of the parties depends on their potential to connect to coherent political groups in the European Parliament, because it is only in this case they may hope to land some key posts. Nevertheless, it seems to be hard for Euroskeptics to fulfill this condition for the establishment of such a group, taking into account their ideological fragmentation. At present, we can observe three Eurosceptics camps. The first of them operates in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group. The other two form around the far-right and the populist parties, especially around the UK Independence Party and the French National Front.
Strengthening of the Eurosceptics will facilitate the composition of large coalitions in the European Parliament. If the existing parties refused to cooperate with the parties and political groups of the extreme right, then the only option to create a stable coalition would be to ally with the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). Such a coalition almost completely eliminates the influence of the Eurosceptics.
The success of Eurosceptics would have far-reaching implications particularly for the Council of the European Union, as it increases pressure on national politicians who, in order to keep the electorate on their side, must accept some elements of their agenda. The Eurosceptics are primarily engaged in national politics and many of them perceive the elections to the European Parliament as a source of finance. According to the authors, the presence and increasing representation of Eurosceptic parties is – due to the increasing integration – natural and understandable. However, the situation where most parties would be unsure about the EU’s membership or would even refuse membership of their country in the EU would be critical. Nevertheless, the pro-European political parties adopt an open discussion about specific alternatives and do not demonize the Euro-skeptic approach, which is a welcome phenomenon.
(The study can be uploaded here:
http://www.swp-berlin.org/en/publications/swp-comments-en/swp-aktuelle-details/article/eurosceptics_in_the_european_parliament.html)

Article Categories:
THINK-TANK

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Menu Title