This is an extract from Tony Czarnecki’s book: ‘Democracy for a Human Federation’
The post Covid-19 economic and social crisis that has already engulfed the EU, as it has the whole world, has paradoxically created an opportunity for an almost enforced partial EU federalization. This envisages a transition to a rudimentary federation, when only the most necessary functions would be federated, such as defence, security, foreign affairs and the budget involving only some ‘core’ countries of the EU. This is now, in my view, the most likely outcome. The ensuing chaos will be multi-dimensional including high permanent unemployment, caused by an earlier arrival of Technological Unemployment, significant drop in GDP and social unrest. But there will be other areas that may simultaneously aggravate the super crisis such as pension crisis, or the rise of interest rates. Finally, there could also be other momentous events linked again to a sudden migration e.g. from the Ukraine, if it falls apart due to another coup d’état. This might lead to sealing off the internal EU border, the collapse of the Schengen zone and some countries exiting the EU in a completely chaotic way. That could spark off the break-up of the EU into several groups such as the original six founding members, the Visegrad Group, or the Scandinavian countries, which might re-join EFTA, where they were before.
If the ‘core’ EU countries visualize such a future, then they may be forced to start a quick fix, untidy, untested variant of the EU federalization, as a risk mitigation strategy. Germany might then see the creation of a Federation as a safer option both for Germany and Europe. Through the European Federation Government, it could take full control of the budget and thus reduce its potential losses. Therefore, crises like these may paradoxically be a trigger for a much faster federalization of the EU. Should such events happen in the next 2 years, then it could be president Macron, rather than Mrs Merkel, who might be the standard bearer for the EU federalization, almost exactly 200 years after Napoleon tried to do just that. What a perspective! In such a scenario, Italy might remain on the side-lines and play a less prominent role in the future federated EU, replaced by smaller but economically stronger countries such as Benelux, Ireland and Sweden.
In whichever way it happens, I assume the initiators will invoke Article 20 of the Lisbon Treaty. Like article 50 used to facilitate Brexit, it is ‘the article of the last resort’ or a kind of a ‘nuclear option’. That is why it is perhaps least known, because it has never been used. Additionally, it is one of the most complex and convoluted articles in the Lisbon Treaty, probably done in this way to hide the real intention of the proposers, since this is the gateway to a federated Europe. Therefore, I spare you the full wording of that article and only quote what matters:
“Member States, which wish to establish enhanced cooperation between themselves within the framework of the Union’s non-exclusive competences, may make use of its institutions and exercise those competences by applying the relevant provisions of the Treaties… The decision authorising enhanced cooperation shall be adopted by the Council as a last resort, when it has established that the objectives of such cooperation cannot be attained within a reasonable period by the Union as a whole, and provided that at least nine Member States participate in it.”
In plain language it means that if at least 9 members of the EU want to federate, they can practically do it at any time. The post Covid-19 economic, social and political upheavals may create unprecedented tensions within the EU. Therefore, if we include personal ambitions of some politicians, and deep structural budgetary problems of the Mediterranean countries (Greece, Italy, Spain, and even France) it may happen indeed within a year. If it does not, then the second Scenario may be more likely as a possible outcome of the Future of Europe Conference (see here), which I envisage as a two-stage process.
There are of course other ways of achieving Fast Track EU Federalization, which may even include countries currently outside the EU, namely the EFTA members – Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Paradoxically, because of the proposed very shallow level of federalization, it might also be, at some stage, a face-saving solution for the UK. The main problem here would be the need for the UK to accept the European Court of Justice, and later on, the European Constitutional Court, as the supreme legislator. However, we live in such abnormal times that anything is possible.
I envisage this scenario enacted in two stages. Here is a link to Stage 1.