The Guest Blog

Ideas for the Union

Guest post by Bart Gissac

Peace. The first priority for Europe must be peace in the world. The United Nations Security Council should be replaced by the UN Peace Council. It would be composed of 15 UN members elected by the UN General Assembly for the period of 2 years. There would be no permanent members in the UN Peace Council. All weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, should be conferred to the UN, and then progressively eliminated. In a later stage, national armies would be abolished. The UN Police would be created to keep peace and verify compliance of the UN members with the demilitarisation provisions. This process could take decades, but a clear timetable should be established within next 5 years by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council.

Europe. Fragmentation of Europe is a recipe for its economic and political failure in the globalised world. Europe needs new ideas for the 21st century which could bring a renewal. We have to think big and outline a project which could inspire young generations in Europe and the world.

The Union. A renewed Union needs strong federal institutions, with clear repartition of competences. Citizens of the Union should have the same rights. All Member States, big and small, would be bound by the rules decided at the federal level. Europeans need a common language, a lingua franca. A real Union needs to be established. It should be open to all countries on the planet sharing the values of democracy, freedom, social protection and environmental responsibility.

  1. The House of Representatives would have the power to propose and adopt laws. Representatives would be elected in the Union Elections held each 4 years. The number of Representatives elected in a Member State would be initially equal to the number of millions of its inhabitants, with the minimum of 3 (see Table below). The House of Representatives would have its seat in Strasbourg.

  2. The Senate of the Union would have the power to amend and reject legislative acts adopted by the Chamber by a simple majority of votes. Senators would be elected each 4 years by the national Parliaments; 5 Senators coming from each Member State (see Table below). The Senate of the Union would initially have its seat in Brussels. It could be moved at a later stage to take account of the geographical diversity of the Union.

  3. The House of Representatives and the Senate would decide jointly on the Union’s taxes and the Union’s budget.

  4. The Federal Government, led by Prime Minister, would hold the executive powers. It would be elected and could be removed from office by the House of Representatives by a simple majority of votes. The Federal Government would have its seat in Brussels.

  5. The Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors would have their seats in Luxembourg.

  6. Euro would be the currency of the Union and all its Member States. The Federal Bank would have its seat in Frankfurt am Main.

  7. The Convention would have the power to modify the Constitution and accept new Member States – by a majority of 67% of votes. It would be composed of all Representatives and Senators (see Table below). The Convention would have its seat in Strasbourg. The maximum number of Convention Members would be set at 750. Therefore, the number of Representatives and Senators per Member State would need to be reduced in the future, should the Union expand significantly.

  8. Citizens of the Union would have Union’s passports giving them the right to travel, reside and work in the Member State of their choice.

  9. Foreign policy and defence would be exclusive competences of the Union. The Member States would keep their membership in the UN General Assembly. The Federal Government would represent the Union and its Member States in the UN Security Council, until its replacement by the UN Peace Council.

  1. Official language of the Union would be English. It is already the first foreign language in a vast majority of EU Member States, thus its adoption would be the easiest and fairest. All Member States would establish English as one of their official languages by a given date. The need for all Union’s citizens to share a common language, English, would imply obligation on Member States to adapt their education systems.

  1. Each country in the world sharing the values of the Union could apply for membership of the Union. The accession process would last minimum 5 years. The Convention would grant candidate status and take decisions on the accession of new Member States.

Population (millions)

Number of Representatives

Number of Senators

Convention Members (R+S)

Germany

82,1

82

5

87

France

66,7

67

5

72

UK (2030)*

65,3

65

5

70

Italy

61,3

61

5

66

Spain

46,4

46

5

51

Poland

38,0

38

5

43

Canada (2030)*

36,2

36

5

41

Romania

19,8

20

5

25

Netherlands

17,2

17

5

22

Belgium

11,3

11

5

16

Greece

10,8

11

5

16

Czech Republic

10,4

10

5

15

Portugal

10,3

10

5

15

Sweden

10,0

10

5

15

Hungary

9,8

10

5

15

Austria

8,7

9

5

14

Bulgaria

7,2

7

5

12

Denmark

5,7

6

5

11

Finland

5,5

6

5

11

Slovakia

5,4

5

5

10

Ireland

4,7

5

5

10

Croatia

4,2

4

5

9

Lithuania

2,9

3

5

8

Slovenia

2,1

3

5

8

Latvia

2,0

3

5

8

Estonia

1,3

3

5

8

Cyprus

0,8

3

5

8

Luxembourg

0,6

3

5

8

Montenegro (2030)*

0,6

3

5

8

Malta

0,4

3

5

8

TOTAL

445,6

456

135

591

TOTAL (2030)*

547,7

560

150

710

* A random scenario of Canada, Montenegro and the UK joining the Union by 2030.

—–

I believe that the European Parliament, which is directly elected by the citizens of the European Union, is best placed to take an initiative to transform the current system. The European Parliament could submit to the European Council, thus to the Leaders of all Member States, a concrete project of changes. If this project had significant support among European citizens, in my view, the national Leaders would feel obliged to accept it, as they are accountable to the very same citizens. This process could happen according to the following scenario:

  1. The European Parliament elected in May 2019 elaborates a Draft Constitution of the Union by the end of 2020.

  2. The European Council adopts the Final Draft Constitution of the Union by the end of 2021, and asks all EU Member States to ratify it in line with their national constitutional provisions by the end of 2022.

  3. The Constitution of the Union is declared adopted, if it has been ratified by at least 20 EU Member States by 31 December 2022.

  4. The Union is officially declared on 1 July 2024, replacing the European Union. It is composed of the Member States which have adopted the Constitution.

  5. From 1 January 2023 to 30 June 2024, the existing EU acquis is adapted to the Constitution of the Union by the outgoing European Parliament and Council. The Member States which have rejected the Constitution negotiate their withdrawal and future relationship with the Union.

  6. The first elections to the House of Representatives of the Union are held in May 2024.

All this may sound unrealistic, no more than a dream. Indeed, the reality looks very much different. Personally, I can currently see a very negative trend of growing nationalism in Europe and the world. The coming years might bring a very different scenario to the one described above. We have to be prepared that bright ideas for the future might need to wait some time before they can be realised. However, I firmly believe that in the long run there is no alternative to political integration for Europe and for humanity.

Bart Gissac

*The views expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Commission.

 

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