One idea left out in the cold, abandoned by this brave new world in which history had ended, was the ‘United States of Europe’. From such a term, it is clear its creators had not intended Garton Ash’s Liberal Order, when they had begun the European Project in 1951. They had envisaged much more. What the term really means has caused much confusion and debate among those who are willing to use it as shorthand for Europe’s ultimate ambition. What most agree on is that it involves federalism.
We have our alternative articles of faith to inform the Union’s Reformation, however we have yet to consider concrete pillars to define its shape. It is to this I now turn.
In reality, treaties are international law. Treaties are drafted by ministers of state and diplomats and not by the people to which they will apply; it is the states rather than their citizens, who are the High Contracting Parties. The treaties lack the democratic legitimacy of constitutional law. By making the member-states the ‘Masters of the Treaties’, the people are explicitly cut out from the pouvoir constituant, having only an indirect influence over the treaties’ content.
The point Varoufakis is trying to make however is that, to say democracy is deficient in Brussels is to utterly understate the crime. Rather, democracy has never been at the centre of the European construct, and as such has only been an obstacle to negotiate in the minds of the men in power who built it. As Brussels has acquired more power, this fact has only become more evident in the way Europe has dealt with challenges against it, and more present in the minds of its citizens. The problem exploded in the wake of the Sovereign Debt Crisis, to the point that it can no longer be ignored. Left unchecked, it is now killing Europe.
Europa is the home of difference and diversity, where new influences are not added to anything but clash and conflict with each other, fighting on the great Hegelian battleground of culture, creed and beliefs. The problem is of course, when this civic conflict of words, arguments, images and sounds becomes one of bullets and bayonets; it is then that we remember why we need a United Europa.
Europa, I think we can say with certainty however, is and long has been much more than a place on a map, contrary to Bismarck’s note in 1876 (‘Qui parle Europe a tort. Notion géographique’). Certainly, we can take Metternich’s foreshadowing of this comment in 1847, with the assertion that Italy was purely a geographic notion, as a sign that Germans are apt as misjudging political and social developments on this continent.
We are at a crossroads in Europe; we have long since reached one of those decisive moments in history where we have to make decisions about the direction our societies are going to take, what are the forces which will be driving them and what will be the political context around them. Our commitment to a united Europe is chief among those questions. It is the defining political question of our time.