Finally, Tombeur reacts to Klinkers’ observations in Paper no. 6, Paragraph D: what could or should be the source for building a European Federation? At the time of concluding their federal Constitution in 1789 the Americans had one all-encompassing source from which they drew their intellectual energy and vigor: freedom. This does not apply to Europe. We have been free for a long time. But would there not be another source that gives us the strength to switch the lever to a Federation? After careful consideration of three possible sources of energy Tombeur concludes that neither the original goal of economic integration, nor the endeavor for the rule of law throughout Europe, but the new global challenges and threats – also in the domain of trade relations – should be the new driving force towards the federalization of Europe. Global challenges that Europe is facing all by itself.
European Federalist Papers © Leo Klinkers & Herbert Tombeur, 2012-2013
Re Paper no. 6, Paragraph D
In a recent interview the French philosopher André Glucksmann draws our attention to several open wounds within Europe, the biggest being that Europe no longer knows why it exists. Glucksmann states: “Europe’s problem is its passivity. It wants peace and quiet. And who wants peace and quiet is not militant anymore. (….). It does not seem to me a superhuman endeavor to find a solution for the financial crisis. But European leaders lack a global perspective. The reason for Europe’s existence is lost.”
This brings us to the essence of the dilemma with which Europe is confronted: your question about the driving force towards a federal Europe. What force could propel Europe into that direction? Should that driving force not exist, there will indeed be no federal Europe.
My answer – esteemed Klinkers – starts with the approach of European cooperation since 1950. Inspired by the sociologist professor Luc Huyse I would like to quote “Everything will pass, except the past.” The past continues in the present. In Europe this is tangibly the case.
Since 1950 cooperation and integration on a European scale have been based on three political motives. I will investigate if these sources of political energy are still active at present. The three original driving forces were:
In other words, trading war for peace, trading dictatorship for representative democracy and trading poverty for stability, growth and prosperity for everybody, through economic integration and military cooperation. That was the driving force for Europe’s process of integration since 1950. After 1945 Germany and France understood that their rivalry could lead to mutual destruction. This was also understood by their allies because they were dragged into that conflict. Nevertheless, the creation of a European Defense Community (EDC) between the three countries of the Benelux, France, Italy and West-Germany – with the goal of coming to each other’s assistance in case of an attack by a non-Member State – failed. The French Parliament rejected the treaty that was signed in 1952 to establish the EDC; the mistrust of the Germans was apparently still a major factor. Then six States opted for a project of economic cooperation – and even political integration – in such a way that it would make conflicts impossible due to the interweaving of economic interests, especially with respect to industrial production. This integration has led – to a certain extent – to one internal market.
Let’s have a look at the assumption that Europe’s economy could be considered a driving force towards federalization. What value is still to be found in this premise? I am of the opinion that the European economy as an energy source towards federalization has dried up considerably. Industries have moved both within and away from Europe, especially east- and southbound, outside of the European Union. The European economy has become weaker on a global scale – with the European colonies becoming independent and the import of resources turning more expensive due to political (instability in the Middle East) and economic causes (growing demand as a result of economic prosperity elsewhere, headed by the BRICST-group). This has led to a growing mistrust within and between European countries, for instance with respect to the internal migration of labor and fiscal or social policies of States; also due to a feeling of dependency, not only on the import of oil. Furthermore, Europe’s economy itself has changed: we have become less industrial and more service-oriented; this has really become global thanks to transport technologies, with or without internet. Since the 1960s the private sector has armada’s of effectively operating multinationals, the political world has hardly any.
In short, Europe has become economically dependent on the rest of the world. Conclusion: due to the fact that Europe is at present less master over its own economy than it was half a century ago, a resurrection of a genuine European economic driving force towards federalization seems unlikely. Europe is drawing its existence from world-wide imports and exports, thus protectionism is no longer an option, let alone for individual States. And at the time that Europe performed a supranational and courageous action it handled things in a completely wrong way: Europe created a single currency without establishing a unitarian economy within that monetary zone. Very ambitious, but rather stupid: any economic theory is telling us that the currency is the expression of the economy, not the other way around.
The second possible driving force, the guarantee and enhancement of a representative democracy and the legal protection of individuals, is a European possession since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. A dictatorship west of Belorussia is nowadays unthinkable. The democratic radiation and therefore the democratic magnet that the European Community, now European Union, the Council of Europe and its Committee for Human Rights, and the Court of Justice at Strasbourg, have offered to the rest of Europe has been achieved. Weak supranationalism and strong intergovernmentalism have played a positive role in disseminating democratic governance and the rule of law, with the Court of Justice in Strasbourg being the final goalkeeper. This has led to constitutional results in eastern and southern Europe, while it has also promoted the free flow of people throughout Europe. Totalitarian regimes within and at the borders of Europe have disappeared, including the Soviet Union, the touchstone for a democratic Europe during the Cold War. For the post-war generation this is evident. Maybe I am wrong but my conclusion is that the driving force of democratization can no longer be considered a vital instrument towards a federal Europe. It has fulfilled its job. This energy source has also dried up.
The two aforementioned driving forces for federalization have lost their power. The first one due to losing economic autarchy and steadily growing prosperity. The second one due to achieving its goal, democratic stability. What is left as another possible driving force?
It may be possible – theoretically – to consider uniting identities (assuming a divided European identity throughout Europe) as such a driving force. This has been the case elsewhere in the world. But the facts in Europe will prevent this. Europe possesses the largest cultural diversity of the five continents. On a relatively small periphery – strictly a peninsula of Eurasia – it has dozens of languages and different behaviors, each based on its own values and norms. Religious differences have caused these social-political fault lines; throughout Europe opinions, and thus behavior, differ.
There is a fault line between Christianity and Islam in the Balkan countries. Within Christianity itself at least three groups exist with differing norms: the protestant, the roman-catholic and the orthodox-catholic community. There are 23 official country languages in 27 Member States, but there are also dozens of vivid regional languages, with or without a formal statute. There are hardly ten countries in Europe that may call themselves culturally homogeneous – which does not mean that their homogeneous culture gives them satisfaction with respect to their borders. Look, for instance, at Central-Europe and former Yugoslavia – explaining the complexity of country borders is a long story, too long to deal with here. Nevertheless, I would like to state that Europe – since the victory conferences in Jalta and Potsdam – is living in the past as far as its territory is concerned. With the exception of the Oder-Neisse border between Germany and Poland, and the States that arose as a result of the disappearance of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. This aspect of country borders will be dealt with later.
This isn’t all, as far as diversity is concerned. There are also two fundamental differing law systems in the European States. On the mainland, national legal orders have arisen based on Roman law and common law. This has been followed – since Napoleon – by a general codification in written codes. This has enhanced the equality of rights and more legal protection, although at a cost: less internalizing of the rule of law by the people. On the British islands in a parallel manner a completely different system has arisen that has been preserved through the ages, having escaped from the French Revolution: legality and law are no projections of the ideal, as is the case on the mainland, but are based on precedents, pointing at the concrete needs of conflicting people seeking their rights empirically. The travelling judges of the King integrated common law. For Britons the text of a law is a minimum, an understatement for doing or not doing something; for people on the continent the law is a maximum, a model of ideal behavior (which of course never occurs). Moreover, a formal legal norm in orthodox Eastern Europe has less value than elsewhere in Europe, because there the exercise of power always prevails, with or without new rules – people in power do not take into account any rule of law, they can do whatever they want. This causes misunderstandings in Europe. The differing opinions about power and legality between parts of Europe is clearly shown in dealing with law-making and its enforcement.
Moreover, with respect to Europe’s diversity, this continent is now comprised of more States than ever before: as a result of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia 18 new States have arisen since 1990. In the previous century they have never or hardly been independent States. The new or renewed States cherish their recently acquired or regained independence – they think and act according to pre-war patterns. This makes them suspicious against the European Union of which they became a member or of which they wish to become a member for mere economic reasons. One could make the statement that Europe’s constitutional and diplomatic diversity has never been so great.
What then, could be the driving force towards federalization? The third one, protection against (violent) threats from outside seems – at first sight – seems to have disappeared. But is that really true? Due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union? Has Europe’s external security since then been safeguarded, with or without the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)? If this is the perception, the question remains: would that be a correct perception? If not, what then is threatening Europe? These questions seem crucial.
At present, military cooperation within the NATO still exists. A number of Central and Eastern Europe States are NATO-members since they no longer fall under the Soviet Union’s hegemony. The NATO operates intergovernmentally under American leadership, although the French do not like to hear this. The first question in this respect should be if NATO offers sufficient protection on the level of ‘all for one, one for all’. Many are convinced that this is not the case. This conviction is manifestly proven to be correct, because article 5 of the NATO Treaty, that became well-known throughout the world after 9/11, states that in case one Member State is attacked by a foreign power, “the other member states take measures that they think to be appropriate”. Thus, there is no automatic solidarity of all partners when one member is attacked. Why is this? Because the United States – at the time of signing the NATO Treaty – did not want to be dragged into a war between European States and the Soviet Union without having its own decision-making power. In other words, when a NATO-member is attacked by a non NATO-member the other members will consider their options… The European perception of this matter may differ, but the hard truth is that NATO does not unconditionally guarantee its members’ security.
Initially NATO was not interested in Yugoslavia, only in the political evolution within the Soviet Union. With the result that those age-old nations continued fighting over the borders demarcating their young States, until NATO, under American leadership, restored order – without establishing sustainable peace. Look for instance at the new States of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. Isn’t that embarrassing for Europeans? Shouldn’t Europe take care of its own territory’s security or of a neighboring one? It should be recognized that Europe is acting in a certain capacity. Since 2005 the European Defense Agency (EDA) contributes to military power, but that is merely professional and economical, not political.
Now I return to 1945 and the following decades to look at the American attitude towards Europe. The transatlantic relation is of crucial importance in order to be able to estimate Europe’s position in the world. I will add some more examples of military interventions. Leaving aside the conflicts that are and were conducted outside of Europe, under US leadership and with European support. I will also give examples of a political and economic nature.
Firstly, the US allowed in 1944-1945 the Soviet army to advance into the heart of Europe (it stopped only a few hundred miles off the Rhine), though the US possessed the military means, including the atom bomb, to prevent that. Therefore, and due to the US’ and the UK’s attitude in Jalta and Potsdam – confirming the political situation militarily – Europe was split politically. One could say: divided as if it had been parceled out. Not only Germany was divided. The new imperium, the US, and the old imperium outside of Europe, the UK, and the even older imperium, the Soviet Union as the successor of tsarist Russia, divided Europe into two spheres of influence. One came to rest under the American imperium, the other under the Soviet Russian imperium. This imperially imposed division has led to political stability and armed peace in Europe; not by the conditional safeguarding of NATO and its article 5.
In his book ‘After Tamerlane’ the British historian John Darwin states: “The result was the creation of an American 'system' imperial in all but name. (...) In Western Europe, America built an empire 'by invitation' - in the striking phrase coined by Geir Lundestad. (...) The huge zone where America provided - or imposed - its strategic protection ... overlapped with the sphere of the new international economy of which America was the pivot. Together they formed the Pax Americana."
During many decades the US accepted this situation, apparently. They clearly preferred this territorial division because this confirmed more than once their position in this sense. For instance, by remaining silent when Eastern Germans (1953), Hungarians (1956) and Czeckoslovakians (1968) revolted against the Soviets. Moreover, the US humiliated the British and French allies in the Suez crisis (this does not mean that I approve of this policy by our neighboring countries against Egypt) and supported the Egyptian President Nasser, while the Soviets were busy suppressing the Hungarian revolt. Let me quote John Darwin again: “In the 1950s it [the Pax Americana] was consolidated rapidly, though not without friction. A critical year was 1956. Washington’s refusal to help the Hungarian revolt against Soviet hegemony marked a tacit acceptance of the European partition of 1945-8. Almost simultaneously, by forcing the British and French (through financial pressure) to abandon their effort to destroy Nasser’s regime, Washington served notice that its European allies must manage what remained of their imperial space in ways that conformed with its grand design.”
In 1966 the US gave preference to their relations with the Soviet Union: they abandoned the NATO-project ‘Multilateral Forces’ (MLF) – with respect to the equal possession of atom bombs and decisions about their application – because the planned treaty on non-proliferation became uncertain. To conclude these examples of unfriendly US policy towards Europe’s security I would like to recall President Bill Clinton’s refusal, in 1994, to grant Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic (the four so-called Visegrad countries) NATO membership; instead, he put forward the proposal for them to participate in the project ‘Partnership for Peace’ together with Russia. What would these countries – bearing in mind the suffering they had encountered from their oppressive neighbor – have thought about this? Wouldn’t they have felt abandoned and betrayed?
I understand that you would argue: yes, but haven’t the US supported Europe in humanitarian and economic ways with the Marshall Plan in 1948? Alright. But this has also been in favor of American enterprises, just as has been the case by the US intervention in both world wars – West and South Europe were industrialized before the US and they have ice-free harbors. The American Robert Kaplan does not contradict this with his most recent book, ‘The Revenge of Geography’.
The fact that the US pushed their economic interests radically, even if damaging Europe, appears also from later actions. In August 1971, President Richard Nixon announced two measures in order to support the US economy and labor market, which had a negative impact on the rest of the world: 1st increasing import duties by 10%, thus damaging the export from foreign countries to the US, thus also from Europe; 2nd suspending the exchange rate of the dollar against gold. The second action did not only lead to the devaluation of the dollar, but also implied a unilateral halt to the international currency system, supported by the Bretton Woods agreements based on the gold standard. When the European Community claimed that the increase of import duties was against the GATT-treaties the US favored some EC-Member States above others.
Barely two years later the Arabic world once again used its oil as a weapon on the occasion of the fights in the Middle East (the Jom Kipoer War): the Arabic countries placed an embargo on the export of crude oil and increased its price. The US blocked the project of an energy and neighboring policy that had been invented by the EC-Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the end of 1973; a policy aimed at the European Community establishing a conference between the oil producing countries (OPEC) and the oil importing countries of the European Community. The US ‘torpedoed’ that plan by dividing the European Community, by organizing a conference in Washington in 1974, inviting only the main oil consuming countries. France, opposing this with other plans, was put under pressure and let down by the other EC-countries. ‘Divide to rule’ is the ancient proverb. The US strategic reason for this kind of action is, of course, the preservation of their monopoly on the acquisition of energy sources in that part of the world.
However, we should not exclude geopolitical changes. In this present financial-economic crisis in the West the US state that within a few years they will not need anymore the gas and oil from the Middle-East. They will win gas from slate, the so called shale gas. This type of gas is already half of their gas production. This makes the price of gas four times cheaper than in Europe. Poland is the first European country to produce gas from slate. I agree with Euro commissioner Karel De Gucht that America, when being no longer dependent on fossil fuels, will alter the existing geopolitical policies. It would not be surprising if this would lead to a power vacuum in the Middle-East and to instability of countries and regimes. Though it might create also new opportunities for other world-powers. How would Europe react to that? Divided or unanimous? With what means?
A political matter that the US wanted to counter with economic sanctions against the Soviet Union was the putsch in Poland and the prohibition of the free union Solidarnosz at the end of 1981. The European Community, then chaired by West Germany, did not favor a heavy handed approach towards Poland and the Soviet Union. The EC restrained its sanctions by only suspending its economic support of Poland and to increasing the import duties on products from the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the US continued its harder sanctions against Poland and the Soviet Union.
You may want to ask: aren’t those days over yet? I am afraid they are not. Do not forget the origin of this American attitude towards Europe. In the years before World War II President Franklin Delano Roosevelt developed an exceptional disgust of the age-old colonialism by European countries, especially of France’s hegemony in Indochina. Although the United States through the years had taken some countries by force – thus not without being guilty of colonialism themselves – Frederik Logevall quotes in his ‘Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam’ one of Roosevelt’s statements in March 1941: “There has never been, there isn’t now, and there never will be, any race of people on earth fit to serve as masters over their fellow men … We believe that any nationality, no matter how small, has the inherent right to its own nationhood.”
This has been one of many ways in which Roosevelt – even prior to Pearl Harbor – expressed an increasing urge in America – having itself liberated from England – to promote the complete independence of the colonies, governed by European countries. Moreover, this has been the basis for the Atlantic Charters of August 1941 with which Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill – reluctantly because he did not want to put an end to the British Empire – laid the political foundation for the total independence of the colonies, and for the establishment of the United Nations after the war.
But … now I arrive at the point I wish to make: there was a hidden agenda behind Roosevelt’s apparent positioning on the moral high ground. Due to his rushed and heavy handed attempts to free Indochina from France, the French Vichy-government investigated this matter more thoroughly and wrote a report from which Logevall cites: “The report charged that American businessmen favored decolonisation mostly in order to gain access to raw materials and markets, so as to maximize profits and to maintain production after the war. The basic aim seemed to be ‘an open door for merchandise as well as capital’. (…) The open door would favor powerful Americans over European competitors.” To liberalize the post-war world market seemed to have been America’s motive behind this striving for the colonies’ independence.
Maybe we should interpret these events as the origin of America’s attitude of ‘our interests first’, morally supported by the justifiable struggle against colonization. Why would we assume that America will drop this attitude tomorrow? Isn’t this history sufficient for the Europeans to take heed?
This is not all that should worry Europe – there is more, much more. Besides this typical US foreign policy – seen through European eyes – within the US and in Asia there is an evolution that should lead to further concerns. The US became economically and politically weaker due to building up an enormous public debt by conducting war after war and by the banking crisis. That debt is primarily in the hands of Asian countries. Eastern Asia itself is affected by international tensions due to conflicts about resources in and under the Chinese Sea, the maritime borders of which are disputed between States such as China, Japan and Korea. This could lead to a situation in which the US turns away from Europe and starts tuning its policies on the Asian countries rather than on Europe.
Let’s go back to the Cold War and the following period, to consider influences other than the United States. The process of European integration was between 1945 and 1990 furthered by the Soviet Union’s assumed threat. This external factor in favor of federalization seems to have disappeared together with the Soviet Union itself. But is that really true? According to Glucksmann and myself this is not the case. Poetin’s Russia does not – as far as I am concerned – set a good example of democracy and political and economic stability. Moreover, the Russian Federation is not afraid of using violence at its borders as appears from the conflicts in the Caucasus and in Georgia.
This Russia is also creating economic worries for Europe: it follows the strategy of divide and rule in the field of energy provision – Germany and Italy agreed separately with Russia about the supply of natural gas, despite the resistance by other EU-Member States. The Russian attitude is also provoking questions throughout Europe in the domain of international trade: according to Euro Commissioner Karel de Gucht Russia does not honor its obligations within the World Trade Organization (WTO), for instance with respect to the European import duties of certain products. Even though Russia is member of the WTO since 2012.
Let’s suppose that Russia is no longer a threat to Europe, are there any other threats or challenges? Someone once said: he who controls Africa, controls Europe. This is geopolitically correct: the eastern part of the Mediterranean with its Suez Canal is still important for the supply of resources and products. The same applies to Morocco on the other side of that sea, controlling its entrance and exit. Well, the situation in that part of the world, in Europe’s backyard, is unstable. There is continuous tension and conflict – following the ‘Arabic spring’ – in and behind the eastern Mediterranean. This has been the case for many years: from Algeria to Iraq via Cyprus, Israel and its neighboring countries. This is creating risks for trade routes and the energy supply lines between Asia and Europe. A thorough analysis of this phenomenon is to be found in Robert Kaplan’s ‘Monsoon, the Indian Ocean and the World Powers of the Future’. Moreover, tensions, conflicts and poverty motivate people from that region and from the rest of Africa to migrate to Europe, hoping for a better life. Even this international phenomenon, exploited by human traffickers, contributes to tension in Europe and between Europe and its geopolitical neighbors.
Well, this is a picture of Europe’s hostile or competing environment, then and now. In my view Europe continues to be confronted with both internal and external risks which are of a social, economic, political and military nature. The actual challenges are – put in key words – stability and security. The disappearance of the Soviet Union may not lead to the naive assumption that these two themes should be moved from the European political agenda. On the contrary. They legitimize their place on that agenda because it is exactly this kind of external threat that has led in many cases to federalization. For instance the United States of America.
In summary, challenging situations exist at Europe’s borders which pose possible danger – or maybe have already put at risk – the prosperity, internal stability and security of Europe. Whether or not Europe likes this, the impact has already been felt and will continue.
That is why I am convinced that the old driving force of uniting in the face of external challenges is still relevant: Europe has to stand up for itself because another power will not do so. Right now, at this moment, the welfare state is dying, a statement that I make in accordance with Mario Draghi, chairman of the European Central Bank (ECB). To cope with these challenges, more than ever Europe needs European solidarity. And this factor, solidarity, can only be effectively realized within a Federation. A Federation turns a crisis situation into a win-win situation: merge whatever is needed in terms of means, materials and other instruments in order to strengthen and to save; nothing more and nothing less. Europe has lost sight of this efficiency-oriented goal in 1991-1992. Yes, the European Federation might even become a better ‘NATO’ with two nuclear countries: France and the United Kingdom.
Why should we wait to draw from that energy source, by expressing the slogan ‘Strengthening through Uniting’. With the aim to keep Europe prospering in this multipolar world, which is changing very rapidly. Europe needs to maintain itself. This will not be possible by neglecting the outside world because it wants to have peace and quiet, as has been observed by Glucksmann, but by reforming, thus federalization. Which means: merging on a European level whatever is necessary in the domain of human and other means, the empowerment of Europe by self-reliance.
How? By conducting a policy of its own, economic, social and military, and by doing so showing an affirmative attitude, not as a super power but as a self-conscious power in the world of 2013, which is no longer the world of 1945, let alone the world of 1815. This is also Gluckmann’s opinion: “A civilization does not necessarily lean on only what is communal. Its origin might also be based on an attempt to keep evil outside. (….) If the old European nation states don’t unite and create one front, then they are doomed. (….) It is in this period of globalization absolutely necessary to perform as one block.”
I feel strengthened in this opinion by some recent – more or less similar – observations by two Dutch politicians. On September 3rd, 2012, Euro Commissioner Neelie Kroes stated, in an interview with the General Dutch Press Agency (ANP) the following words: “No country, not even the Netherlands or Germany, can remain standing against the global power of upcoming economies. Therefore cooperation within Europe is needed.” Furthermore she said: “In having the European market we have the crown jewels in our hands. The free flow of people and goods within Europe is unique in the world. Other countries are trying to keep up with us in an ever faster pace. The idea of ‘we are capable of managing things as separate countries’ is over.”
To give Europe back its dignity, its self-esteem, it should unite purposefully on that level. I am asking you: will we as Europeans continue to choose the path along 27 and more States, leading to its downfall? Europe’s decay has already been noticed worldwide, and demonstrated. For instance by ignoring the European Union and its Member States by non-European delegations – including the BRICST-group during the last environmental and development conference in Rio+20.
Thus Europe has to merge its powers to regain its place on the world stage. We have to choose urgently for a change that will lead Europe towards a promising future. Investing in change requires endeavors. Merging our European powers, now divided and weak. Chance in a European sense: to climb a mountain with a splendid view on the promised land and then descend to its valleys to pick the fruits. Isn’t that what we need and thus should want to achieve? Which forces us to gather courage. Investing in order to harvest. The European nations have done so separately in the previous centuries. Why not do this together now?