Premises for a European Federation

Strategic Options

December 2014

Robert Verschooten
President Europees Studie- en Informatiecentrum (ESIC), vzw, Antwerp-Belgium
Policy adviser to UEF-Belgium

in cooperation with

Leo Klinkers, director Klinkers Public Policy Consultants (KPPC)
Herbert Tombeur, manager of Tombeur Training & Consulting (TTC),
co-authors of the European Federalist Papers

The European level shall function democratically since important decisions will not only be taken, they shall be democratically legitimated. No effective and just government is possible without a democratic political system. Federalism is such a bottom up system. It means checks and balances in and between several power centres. Federalism holds sharing of guaranteed power or sovereignty.

In a European Federation interests, whether related to Europe as a whole, to Member States or to subnational entities, shall be strictly separated. Politicians can but accept a political mandate from an electorate for one tier at a time. The separation of responsibilities and competences means a ban on combining offices, especially if the executive and control functions coincide.

The European Federation is sovereign in its assigned powers. Its Member States stay equally sovereign in the exercise of their powers. In this Federation relations between the different tiers are balanced and transparent. These relations stimulate complementarity and effectiveness. Unity in diversity strengthens Europe and is a feature of European identity.

The added value resulting from the exercise of competences at a given tier will have to be demonstrated. Only a truly European Federation can answer this question. This will be realized through an equilibrated and homogeneous distribution of responsibilities and competences.

Hence, a European public space shall be created where common interest is served and promoted and where an effective European solidarity is visible to the citizens. In this common public space feelings of a conflicting loyalty vis-à-vis national, respectively European citizenship will disappear.

A European Federation displays an effective government where assignments and means coincide with set objectives and with the democratic system founded on people's sovereignty, responsibility and legitimation.

In this public space a direct relationship between the people, the administration and the policymakers is present. Expectations of people are taken into account through co-decision, participation, information and effective and approachable authorities.

Different tiers of government require an adapted deliberation structure that organizes and enhances mutual complementarity and identity.