Our Federalism Week continues with a few words from Jose A M Macedo who outlines his thoughts on how Europe can shake off the stigma of federalism, redesign the eurozone and actually embrace some of the nationalist ideas along the way.

Europe is facing a huge defiant period. In fact for a long time now, the EU has had a high probability to start a defragmentation process. This may threaten some of the main federalist objectives or even eradicate them at all. The Eurozone crises combined with national populisms may be considered as the two main reasons for such instability. The advance in economic ties among member states without a stronger political union is one of the major causes for actual EU circumstances. The volatility of the financial system namely around the common currency was not supported by a cohesive interrelationship of solidarity and mutual confidence among members. The fact is that the euro should have been implemented only after important political reforms were concluded. And now since the Brexit vote, the economic union needs urgent redefinitions, even though Britain’s withdraw is just a result of former mistakes as a consequence of a lack in political structuring and organizing and a non-full commitment and adjustment by United Kingdom with EU values, especially by its non-incorporation into Eurozone. This has backed some important financial differences between pound and euro displaying accordingly different economic and social results. Besides, political populisms seem to undermine all the European integration process that was ignited more than 60 years ago. Recent migrant crisis has strengthen the national egoisms as a way to avoid further damage on social structure of the different members since the lack of a political structure has not answered to those questions and once again we face the weakness of the political union across EU.

Enhance the mutual confidence

In the presence of this scenario, EU integration is exposed to some critical facts and depending on too much events and particular dynamics in each state. Some examples are very acute as the next referendum in Italy, the French presidential elections or the peculiar strategy of some eastern countries towards Russia and/or EU governability. In fact, we are at time to avoid such ruin process to go further by enhance the mutual confidence among EU states and starting a closer integration and proximity within EU space. Such mutual confidence is the most significant and important aspect to build a strong federal Europe. This must be discussed and implemented through distinct political, economic, social, cultural and environmental conducts.

Play the right game

Political issues must be built across all member states, thus clarifying the pretensions of each one of the countries and taking into account the future commitments of the individual members towards a federal model for EU consigned to a European Constitution. Further, EU must create solid political institutions originated in EU parliament to surrogate EU Commission and to speak at one single voice including for those sensitive matters as defence and foreign affairs. A federal EU requires also important certainties on confidence in institutions and the basis of those must be related and to arise from the people basis as a true democratic process. The strengthening of the visibility and perception of common dangers and hostile external elements (e.g. Russian, Turkish policies) and processes is another main aspect to persecute as an approach to promote and enhance the cohesion and unity among member states. However, it is quite interesting to see some sub-groups within EU space according with mutual interests, e.g. Visegrad Group, the Baltic States, or the southern countries, but demonstrating also some cultural affinities. May this contribute for a successful federalization? I think so because that will restraint the number of agents in negotiations and decision making and thus significantly contribute to future agreements in EU. Additionally, important progress shall be done on the creation of really European Armed Forces (e.g. EU Army) to support an independent defence policy to EU countries.

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Loosen the knot on regulation

The Eurozone and its single currency must be protected in order to guarantee financial stability and thus economic progress through all EU member states. Further more, important remarks are also essential as the parity between the British pound and the European single currency if the United Kingdom Brexit process will be aborted as I hope will be the case.  Excessive regulation must be avoided in order to give some more freedom to entrepreneurship and companies as well as maintaining some reasonable protectionism in order maintain the competitive abilities for European companies and economic financial groups. Certainly, economic aspects are the most advanced and easier aspect to work with since important obstacles are overcome already and requiring merely some redefinitions and commitments among member states when compared with other issues.

Social confidence

Social aspects are central to all this process. They are a privileged way to establish the confidence between EU institutions and people and to warrant important social and welfare patterns, including those related with employment creation. Moreover, these factors may allow a better acceptance for migrant policies, even though subjected to a higher degree of control also as a counterbalance for the security aspirations of populations. Hence, this may be a priority measure since growing populisms are originated precisely on those fears and insecurity sentiments and without them the federalisation process can be well neglected.

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Cultivate culture and the environment

Culture as a way to integrate and to bring distinct peoples closer, and separated by different languages and societal views, is a fundamental path in order to attain better acceptances of federalization process. Thus, it will become more and more necessary for political actions to be required towards the valorisation and integration of the distinct cultural views as also languages. From this diversity, we shall find new ways to reach common platforms for a common European culture conscience. Environmental issues, particularly climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection must be considered, based on a compromise with previous climate change agreements and commitments. Across Europe, the general acceptance of climate change and its impacts on Earth is a major factor to determine important policies for this subject and to develop also the denominated “green economy”.

Recognise common traits

Most of those referred aspects are merely general and indicative. However, they can serve as contributes and suggestions to establish detailed plans for EU revitalization and reinforcement. The lack in mutual confidence among states may destroy or limit federal pretensions. However, federalism is the only way to get a stronger and united EU since it can be constructed on a basis of such confidence and solidarity aims. Likewise, the future of a solid federal Europe must be done with peoples trying to emphasize the common cultural aspects among them. The complexity of all these issues implies quick and practical responses on order to warrant the success of a federal Europe. In fact, actually we need strong and clarified views on all those main topics above described.

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