TELOSscope: The Telos Press Blog

The European Union Reconsidered

It seems that a young internet highflier who calls himself “the Argonaut,” whose idée fixe is the future of the European Union, has become the champion of a possible Federalist European Union and is bombarding the network with a number of miracles that, according to him, are being achieved in Brussels and Strasbourg. He claims that Europe’s political unification is fully realized, that the ECB has extended quantitative easing to all European banks, that the Greek problem, he happily announces, is solved thanks to a giant issue of fifty-year Greek government real estate bonds, which are sending the international financial market agog. The EU Commission, the Argonaut dreams, has decided to support the British suggestion that the EU MPs should work inside various 28 national parliaments, thus integrating the European institutions, and not in Strasbourg; he moreover says that the Frontex Immigrant Agency in Warsaw, duly instructed by Germany, has accepted enthusiastically to coordinate the Mediterranean immigrants distribution among the EU member states who heartedly agree. His most fantastic declaration is that five EU defense ministers of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Great Britain, based on articles 28, 42, and 43 of the Lisbon Treaty, have created the EEF, an European Expeditionary Force, which will be based in Sardinia and near Cracow. Special arrangements, he candidly assures the social network, have already been signed with NATO.

In the meantime, in the real world, among intellectuals, economists, and journalists, including a few Nobel laureates,[1] the tune is quite different. Indeed, an entire industry is specializing in Europe’s woes: a feckless continent with no backbone, no political union, caught in an incurable economic downturn, surrounded by unstable and aggressive states in the Mediterranean, flooded by biblical waves of immigration, threatened by Russian imperialism and murderous Islamic fanaticism, to which it remains blind. Against possible military threats there is only a flawed defense system that could never be brought into action if one of its members were really attacked. The introduction of the euro, which was hailed as a EU’s grand step forward, has turned out be a disaster for a few member states burdened with a skyrocketing public debt, and instead of unifying its states it has generated conflict, speculation, unemployment, and various other ills. The general feeling is that the many undesired effects of the treaties of Maastricht (1992) and Lisbon (2007) are now obliging everyone to reconsider the entire European grand geopolitical design that started with the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Ironically, the only admirers of Europe today are the millions of immigrants and refugees who flee poverty, violence, and injustice, and risk their lives in the hopes of reaching what they believe to be the richest, most civilized, and most hospitable continent of the planet.

Europe Divided

The major EU problem today is that the current economic crisis, as it seems, cannot be cured using classical economic instruments and strategies. Various factors have come under scrutiny: the euro, Germany’s dominant position, the banks’ greediness, economic liberalism, the consequences of Thatcher’s and Reagan’ s “wild deregulation,” the public debt. Naturally all of these are considered as variables of the unwavering globalization, a process highly ridden by a new aggressive and unprejudiced capitalism that favors the larger Asian countries and damages the Western world. Though a detailed analysis might provide a different picture, there is one major factor that particularly affects the overall economic and political outlook of Western countries, which we could call the debt syndrome. We are talking not only of public debt toward banks but also of the debt toward present and future citizens: the future of society, of welfare, of the environment. In weaker European countries, public debt has reached astronomic size and has become a nightmare for left-wing and right-wing governments alike. In order to respect the social contract, the government must turn to banks when public cash is exhausted. It thus becomes dependent on cynical financial operators who, as Talleyrand used to say, “never do their job so well as when the states do badly their own.” Traditionally, in world literature, the issue of debt has always been suspected both by creditors and debtors. It is clear, however, that a certain amount of public debt is a necessary component in any financial system and without the “animal instincts” attached to money, nurtured in the financial world, the creation of capital, the building of an industrial system, technology, affluence, and welfare, as we have known them, would never have happened. For these reasons, the financial system, and specifically the level of debt, has always been monitored by public authorities as potentially harmful for enterprises, private citizens, and families. Furthermore, in the last fifty years, due to rampant industrial development and the consequent development of necessary financial services in all sectors of both private and public economy, debt has come to be regarded as a benign instrument in the hands of national states, which helps ensure large collective necessities, ever growing legal rights, and social benefits in our increasingly demanding democracies. Debt has thus become an independent variable in the national states’ financial system and has reached unimaginable levels, putting governments under political pressure to get more and more money, exerted partly from their own citizens and partly from a larger financial network on which they have no control.

For their part, the banks and various financial and custodian institutions, on account of their clients, invest at a profit the enormous mass of liquidity that floats around the planet. They do it on the condition that their creditors will duly repay installments with interests at each expiration date. The many haters of global finance (and of the famous gnomes of Zurich) who suffer from the Plutocratic/Masonic/Jewish conspiracy complex should be reminded that though the financial system is “value free” and is therefore perfectly indifferent to people’s woes across geographical and ethical borders, it also performs a positive function. In a country like Italy, for example, if the government should fail to renew tens of billions of state bonds in euros each year, the Italian pensioners would immediately become moneyless and destitute. The working woman strolling down the street may not realize that thanks to the so-called repartition system of Italian National Security (INPS), the considerable amount of money set aside out of her salary by the state during her lifetime has already been spent long ago, paying some other pensioner who, thanks to the old privileged pensioning system, retired at fifty and will be in charge of the state for life.

States are not normal debtors; they are sovereign debtors. In democratic and liberal societies, this poses problems of guarantees, justice, and farsightedness unknown to public finance scholars of the last three centuries This situation puts national states in an ambivalent position in which, thanks to the electronic system governing the financial network, they can be put at risk of defaulting overnight by a young bank executive in shirtsleeves operating from some remote corner of the globe. The default of a state is not comparable to the bankruptcy of a company and can trigger disasters everywhere. Italy ran the risk in 2011; Portugal, Ireland, and Spain found themselves in even deeper trouble. Greece’s possible default and exit from the euro-zone could turn out to be a catastrophe for the entire Union.

The present state of affairs, unthinkable a few years ago, imposes upon the suffering states of the euro-zone the need to renew their public debt at any cost and, if necessary, to submit financially to the so-called troika (EU Commission, FMI, and BCE), which would necessarily impinge on their sovereignty. But for how long? Under whose supervision? With what expected results? There are little or no indications on the subject. The Maastricht Treaty, notwithstanding its huge legal paraphernalia, is curiously silent on the possibility of a member state defaulting. And yet someone could have suspected that the genius of the euro, in the hands of imprudent governments, might escape from the magic bottle and threaten the EU with disaster. Many accuse the rigid monetary rules governing the euro of being responsible for the crisis, but this is hardly the case. Established economists have always determined that “it is not possible to use the monetary lever to govern the real economy but only to operate strategic political choices.”[2] In the history of national states, money has always been considered a flexible instrument of political economy in the financial market and as a characteristic of the policy of sovereign states. For this reason in every case of unification of states, whether spontaneous or forced, the creation of the unified currency has always followed and never preceded the political unification.[3] The consistent group of high-level economists, lawyers, and historians[4] who negotiated the Maastricht Treaty must have had absolutely urgent reasons, and an irresistible rush to burn up the road, for disavowing so blatantly Europe’s monetary history.

It would be impossible today to abolish the euro tout court, though various political movements and some governments blame the euro for all of their quandaries, and are secretly exploring exit strategies that would not cause too much damage. In the meantime, ironically, the ECB is bypassing its own statutes, having been forced to relax its financial rules and adopt strategies of quantitative easing, basically devaluing the euro, extending terms, and allowing states to choose better financial strategies. However, as anybody can see, since Maastricht, far too many forecasts have proven wrong, too many expectations have failed to realize, and too many unintended negative effects of the European unification have made life difficult for too many of its member states. In that context, the “More Europe!” slogan invoked by a dwindling number of euro enthusiasts now has a hollow sound to most who hear it. The European general public understands too well that, in spite of its primary importance, the economy cannot be the driving force for an “ever closer” Europe and that French dirigisme and German austerity are always leading the European caravan uphill and on a very bumpy road.

What Can Integrate Europe

After the founding treaties of the 1950s, all the original member states gained social and economic advantages, albeit at a slow pace. It therefore seemed appropriate, based on the new economic conditions, to provide a legal and regulatory framework for what was then generally referred to as the “European Community.” As a consequence of the national enforcement of the treaties and the subsequent establishment of the European Parliament (1979), a substantial body of doctrine and jurisprudence generated what is known as the acquis communautaire, a system of European laws regulating the Union, adopted as common practice by member states. The acquis communautaire immediately became almost as common in Europe as Gratian’s Decretum in the thirteenth century and legal collections at the time of the medieval Bologna School of Law. However, in their fervor to establish the legal framework for the future Union, the Parliament and the Commission completely disregarded the work of highly reputable jurists and political outsiders who had anticipated most of the problems that the new “legal” Union would face.[5] “Law,” Hermann Kantorovicz stated, “is a social science par excellence prescribing a behavior relevant in the exercise of justice.”[6] In this sense the acquis communautaire led to substantial developments in Europe by stimulating national doctrine and influencing legal systems. However, one wonders over the opportunity of submitting national legislations to a competing and higher authority, possibly in contrast with key sectors of society. Is this the proper instrument for integrating an “ever closer” Union, to use an expression that recurs obsessively in EU official literature? Taking an optimistic view, Tesauro, a leading Italian jurist, writes that “the European court of Justice establishes a legal community and brings juridical integration at a satisfactory level and in any case more advanced than any other; this testifies to the harmony existing in a complex juridical pattern which equitably confirms and protects local sovereignties.”[7] While Tesauro is right in praising the achievements of the EU legal system, the truth is that EU legislation is full of problems. Legal systems resemble one another but the national Supreme Courts, the Courts of Cassation, and the State Counsels continue to have their say—ignoring, removing, interpreting EU legislation on the economy, fiscal policy, bioethics, environment, etc.—and continue to exercise their political functions.

Ever since the 1980s, the EU Parliament has abundantly legislated on many subjects, including important ones like competition, state grants to the corporate system, market monopolies, environment, energy, and immigration, all matters on which the Commission can heavily fine member states for certain transgressions. Furthermore, thanks to the authority deriving from the treaties, the Commission imposes limits on state and regional public expenditure. In practice, the euro-zone rules generate problems that appear insolvable under EU rules but which could easily be dealt with at a national level. Basically, the EU’s policy in the last twenty years has been to achieve the legal integration of member states by integrating them to an acquis communautaire imposed from above. The idea is that resulting national normative systems would gradually be adapted to a superior order arriving from Strasbourg and Brussels, or, in case of dispute, from the European Court’s doctrine. This would lead to the establishing of a sort of European Common Law analogously to what happened in the English and U.S. legal systems.

But is this really possible? Would it not be better for EU MPs to work alongside the national parliaments rather then elaborating new laws in Strasbourg? Allow me to quote myself from a recent essay on the subject:

Would it not be possible for each EU member state to host in its own Parliament a number of members of Parliament from other member states? Each member state could appoint, say 10 members of it own Parliament, duly selected as itinerant MPs to be assigned to work inside the other 27 Parliaments, instead of in the chambers of Strasbourg. They could have a double function: as itinerant MPs, hosted by another state, with equal MP status but with no voting rights, and as European consulting certified observers (or some such qualification) at the service of the EU Council and the EU Commission. Each government would be expected to appoint the decided number of itinerants from within its national Parliament, in various capacities, according to its requirements. Their choice should be decided independently by the national governments and subtracted from the Commission as well as from both the national political parties and from the political groups in Strasbourg. This is for good reasons: 1) it is the national government that, in most cases, organizes the Parliament’s agenda on matters of European importance, 2) the itinerants should work freely with the hosting Parliament, conveying their remarks to the Commission and report to the Council as well, anticipating the hosting Parliament’s critical remarks on any of the Commission’s directives. As a result the Commission’s decisions and directives and the EU Council’s overall outlook would be based on knowledge and information obtained directly in place. Would that not be the utmost respect of the principle of subsidiarity? Only after the relevant legal and administrative national systems are permeated within each other, it might (just might) become possible to centralize legislation in a viable sovereign Parliament and begin to envisage a proper Confederation, something like the United States of Europe.[8]

For the above reasons, the goal of a political unification of Europe, under whatever name, still looks untimely. As the failure of the European 1995 constitution at a popular level demonstrates, it is not sufficient to consider the 28 EU member states as a nation. “A nation,” wrote Ortega y Gasset, “has a vegetative nature, it is spontaneous and somnambulistic; it grows by adding from alluvion like the coral reef, and continuously incorporates new objects forming an entire social reality.” Is the European Union a spontaneous nation? The lofty appeals to unity by historic forefathers like Cattaneo, Mazzini, Gioberti, Guizot, Hugo, Burckhardt or in the Manifesto di Ventotene are all convincing enunciations of the goals of the EU but they contain no indication as to the possible means for reaching those goals. For this reason today’s continuous appeals to the EU political unity seem empty rhetoric, particularly to the millions of young voters who continue to ignore UE Parliament elections. On the other side EU executives, national politicians, scholars and historians of the EU have all failed to produce an intelligible and operative proposal for binding 28 free and independent states into a form of federal union. As a matter of fact no term such as federalism has been so mistreated and manipulated in Europe, particularly in Italy, where it has served as the electoral slogan for a modest administrative and fiscal decentralizing policy. The politicians who discuss this complex long standing political theory know little of the legal technicalities and the considerable consequences that federal solutions have produced on national policies. The upshot is that they do not see much beyond the inter-governmental scheme that would result, notwithstanding the admiration of many of them for American federalism and the Swiss and German Confederations. In this respect they are all forced to admit that the model that emerges from the treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon does not look like a federalist model suited to Europe’s complex and diversified social and economic reality, as much as a model for a traditional modern nation state (Executive- Legislative- Judiciary): not a very original or convincing realization of Europe’s Manifest Destiny in the new twenty-first century globalized world.

A Federalist Europe?

While a nation, as mentioned above, is a spontaneous mix of history, religion, and language, it should be clear that a federalist system is not a spontaneous creation. It is a binding contract negotiated among a number of free and independent states in a given geographical area, which institutionalizes a new public international sovereign subject based on common interests, mutual defense, solidarity and common civil and democratic values. It is therefore important to identify what those interests, defense values, and common civil values are for each contracting party and how they plan to enforce them in their state. And since contracts, in this wild world, are not stipulated forever, certain devices should be provided in case breach of contract, opting out, major crises, etc.

Could the 28 EU member states suddenly decide to go federalist, say in 2020? How many times has this slogan been used by passionate European federalists! Could it happen? The leading examples are naturally the grand historical experiences: of the United States, the Swiss and German Confederations and possibly other minor experiences in pre-modern world history. These examples are certainly fascinating and a European federal state that would embrace this extraordinary kaleidoscope of nations, cultural backgrounds, artistic and technological achievements we call Europe, would be the most fascinating of all. One should keep in mind, however, that the total population of the 13 American states in 1776 was 3.929.237, that all of them were and deeply felt American and that they had just fiercely fought and won the war of independence against arguably the greatest superpowers of the time. Similarly, the inhabitants of the newly established Swiss confederation dispersed on its marvelous mountains were less than 200,000. The inhabitants of the EU today amount to 500 million, they speak about 15 different languages, follow different religions, belong to different ethnic and social groups and their national states are all marked by a sectarian historical past characterized by violence and intolerance. Moreover no Thomas Jefferson or William Tell is in sight to give us a hand, no modern day equivalents of the generation of spirited, capable and authoritative founders, the likes of Monnet, Adenauer, De Gasperi, seem to have emerged. Moreover, European nations have been fighting each other for centuries and no European general after having won would have ever pronounced the words of General Grant at Appomattox (1865): “the war is finished and the rebels have returned to be our citizens.”[9]

All European States, big and small, have exercised power and often-considerable power at a global level in the past; they have hence maintained throughout the centuries the instinct of command and of sovereignty. After the catastrophe of two world wars they have certainly become wiser and, though mutual solidarity is not their strongest point, they no longer challenge one another in the old terms. However, they remain fearful of the old dirigisme and jealous of their independence and sovereignty, the more so after the treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon. They know all too well that in spite of a long crisis that has damaged the weaker members, the level of affluence in most of the EU is far above that of the rest of the world, and that, in spite of the current criticism, this affluence is also a result of the European Union, its political role, the EU treaties, the open markets, the spread of welfare and of many other policies carried out by the EU after the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Notwithstanding the development of a number of hot-blooded nationalist and populist movements (the result of a combination of historical ignorance and ideology) member states do not intend to renounce the advantages of the EU, even though they continue to defend their independence. This is perhaps the reason of relatively low-key debate on the problem of the EU’s political name and legal definition and the small number of intellectuals, politicians, and scholars who have actually studied possible institutional formulas for a new European world giant that would truly unite 28 free and independent states. A few[10] scholars have looked for new roads beyond the historical evolution of the national modern state or classical Westphalian sovereignty. In this respect one could turn for help to the seventeenth century pre-enlightenment thinkers like Hugh Grotius, Johannes Althusius, John Locke, Alberico Gentili, or Francisco Suarez. In various periods and ways, all these thinkers successfully opposed the inert legal technicalities of the sectarian and intolerant scholastics of their times and were particularly good in their work on small communities, provinces and states. They managed to integrate civil responsibility and commercial practices of the different local entities into a collective legal framework, without a central commanding authority. Relying on the ancient Germanic spirit of the Genossenschaft [11] they fought to preserve the independence of those pre-national communities from the suffocating breathe of the Empire and the Churches. Their ideas were strongly tied to contract theory, which provided simple social and political concepts, such as common good, mutual defense and assistance, including various forms of political solidarity, and local alliances for special projects. All political and sociological features that have gradually disappeared under the overbearing grand Westphalian modern state model. If the ancient contract theory was useful in dismantling the cramping ecclesiastical and imperial hierarchies of their times could it not be used today to explore possible solutions for dismantling the superfluous parts of our European bureaucracies and, after four centuries, help us design a new and better collective bond for a problematic continent?

The European Defense

While the new European entity is searching for its political identity, a few willing and able states could join forces for particular practical necessities in the form of the so-called “reinforced alliances” (Lisbon Treaty arts. 42-43). These would not only serve specific purposes in the general European interest but also help assert the European spirit as a trusteeship of western civilization at a global level.

One of these reinforced alliances should deal with the problem of European defense. Its history of failures has generated a stalemate that only a major emergency could help overcome. The larger public, euro MPs, and all EU pundits have generally ignored this fundamental pillar of the Union and specifically the treaty for the ECD, the European Community of Defence. This was established in the 1950s and was meant to assure an autonomous task force in the hands of the new European entity. The relevant treaty is extremely articulated but at the time was actually adopted only by four of the six EC founding members and has therefore has been sitting on a desk, handsomely printed on official paper, awaiting more suitable circumstances. These seemed to appear in 1958 when the WEO (West European Organisation) was created in London, then transferred to Brussels, then to Amsterdam and finally to Rome. The problem was, however, that so long as Europe was protected by the NATO, the organization did not make much sense and with the end of the cold war it gradually dissolved into the NATO.

NATO—75 percent of whose budget is covered by the United States—was, and still is, the only western defense organization capable of keeping up with the extraordinary technological and strategic complexity of ever improving military arms systems. Yet, technological differences in armaments, operating strategies, and command structure in the various states pose problems for collaborating European governments and their military personnel. It is perhaps for this very reason that a recent proposal for European defense by the president of the European Commission Junker has been turned down by the Parliament. In the meantime Russia is parading new land armaments along its borders, Egypt is training its military under Russian supervision, Japan and China are maneuvering in the Pacific, and ISIS has occupied half of Syria and part of Iraq, threatening the entire Middle East and killing Muslims and Christians alike. While the world press, particularly the European one, quivers in indignation, it seems concerned primarily with the peril of Western citizens in areas under attack and hopes for someone outside the Western world to do something about the more general problem. As many have pointed out France, Germany, UK, and Italy, all have a considerable arms industry and the European states altogether spend 200 billion euros a year in the military and have about 1.6 million men under arms. But at the present stage the EU has no capacity whatsoever to deal with any military; only individual states can do this.

The Lisbon Treaty, in case of reinforced cooperation (articles 42 and 43) requires unanimity or, in some cases, a two-thirds majority to authorize military action. The result is that, defense-wise, the EU is non-existent and unable to speak with a strong international voice on any strategic issues concerning member states. If a violent conflict were to occur on its doorsteps we would see a repetition of the Bosnian tragedy of 1995, which was partly caused by the indecision and cowardice of Europe, coupled with Russian cynicism. That bloody conflict was finally, if belatedly, resolved by NATO. If a similar situation were to occur, we would probably again suffer the shame of a peace treaty for Europe signed in the Unites States (for Bosnia in Dayton, Ohio). How long can the leaders of the European states and high executives of the EU continue to accept this embarrassing situation? Will we have to wait for an attack on an EU member to hastily patch up some form of European defense force? Would it not be better for a number of willing and able states to create something like the European Expeditionary Force (EEF) invented by the crazy astronaut, with whom we began the present article, thus recuperating the old spirit of the ECD? This would provide a powerful sign of the EU’s world presence and of its international sovereignty. The mere fact of establishing such a task force, whatever it might be called, would give the states involved greater authority and greatly reinforce the role and weight of the EU at a global level. Such a force would also assist the NATO and help re-orient its international choices. While the NATO was originally created for the defense of Europe, it is now present almost everywhere in the world. The establishing of a strictly EU military force would give the EU more influence on NATO policies and would open up unimaginable new scenarios of world peacekeeping.

Useful Crises

To the extent that it is possible, crises should not be suffered but ridden on a high horse, turning them into an opportunity. Two major crises today seem to seriously challenge the very existence of the EU such as we know it today: the possible default of Greece and the possible exit of the UK from the Union as a consequence of the referendum announced by the government. The case of Greece is significant. In the general enthusiasm for the entrance of Greece in the EU and the euro-zone the size of its public debt as compared to the real weight of its economy (less than 2 percent of the EU’s GNP) was not taken duly into account. The Commission did not monitor this public debt for a long period and it grew to the point that the country is now on the brink of a default. While the Lisbon treaty calls for solidarity among EU member states, this does not mean that national debts of member states are “European” debts. This does not happen in any family, business or multinational entity. What is happening in Greece could happen elsewhere in Europe and some more accurate provisions should be put in place for these cases. The case of Greece has brought to the light many more problems and the legal and the relevant “misunderstandings” constitutes a very good reason for reconsidering the entire Union and introducing substantial changes in European treaties. Ironically some substantial changes in the EU structure could be put forward in order to the avoid Brexit altogether.

In Britain, opposition to the EU has never been so fierce since the times of Charles De Gaulle’s pérfide Albion. The recent statements of UKIP chief Nigel Farage have done away with the British tradition of understatement in political affairs. The UKIP treats the EU as the cause of the British economic crisis and specifically of the austerity measures imposed by the Tory government, which UKIP accuses of having caved in to the German diktat. In general, Britain seems particularly concerned with possible banking control measures by the Commission. The British government in particular criticizes the EU’s obsolete bureaucratic state model and its mentality, and accuses it of cramping Europe’s growth, a criticism that has been ill-received by the Commission. On the other hand, if a so-called Brexit should occur, it would seriously jeopardize the Union’s fifty years of positive achievements. As for the specific merits of British criticism, many observe that the British economic crisis has little to do with the Union of which Britain is the most important financial center. As Matthias Matthijs pointed out in Foreign Affairs[12], the problem is that “the British will have to observe stricter financial regulations if they want to remain in the EU financial hearth . . . they have certainly obtained more advantages than disadvantages from the Union.” The presence of Britain in the EU has so far been considered as necessary more for its international openings and for its historical ties to the United States than for any economic advantage it brings to the EU or to any of its members. But today new and stronger motivations may be necessary to overcome the present crisis and also help reform the EU. Ironically the danger of Brexit could provide precisely those motivations.

As a matter of fact, much of the criticism of the EU by the British government appears founded: the EU seems to have lost its original experimental vocation and to be imposing upon its members, through the EU Parliament, policies characterized by excessive dirigisme. This criticism springs from a philosophically technocratic and to some extent liberal tradition that is also a product of the vast international experience of the UK deriving from its traditional role in the Commonwealth. (This has nothing to do with that which fuels anti-European movements like the Front National in France, the Movimento 5 Stelle in Italy, UKIP in Great Britain, Podemos in Spain, and the Syriza Party in Greece.) No other EU member can boast a global experience as long-standing, open, and practically oriented as the UK, and it is possible that this experience could help find new federal solutions for the entire Union. Dean Acheson[13] famously said in 1962 that the United Kingdom, having lost its Empire, would find a new world mission: Europe’s integration and a stronger alliance with the United States. The first of these forecasts has not come true. As to the second, the United States’ best ally today seems to be in Berlin more than in London. In the coming months, before and after 2017, when the expected British referendum takes place, many things are bound to change in the integration process of the EU. The high representatives of the EU Counsel and Commission as well as their political counterparts in the 28 member states must realize that the various crises suffered by the UE are mainly the results of their mistakes, many of which were anticipated by innumerable experts and knowledgeable politicians in and outside Europe, whose advice they disregarded. This is causing a disintegration rather than an ever closer integration of the Union. Enforcing the present Commission’s strategies and giving more power to the EU Parliament will only strengthen the backlash of the many anarchic and nihilistic movements in Europe who are flooding social networks with passionate attacks which, exaggerated as the may be, deserve a proper answer. Only thus will it be possible to extract new ideas and stimuli from the present crises. By involving a consistent number of competent, open minded and non-partisan political lawyers, economists, and historians, including outsiders, who in these years have worked at ideas for alternative forms of Union, it might be possible to produce the sort of bold and decisive reform that 500 million of Europeans are expecting.

This essay will appear in Italian as “L’Unione Europea Europa Daccapo” in Nuova Storia Contemporanea in October 2015. The English translation appears here by permission.


1. For example: George Soros, The Tragedy of the European Union (New York: Public Affairs, 2014); Vaclav Klaus, Integrazione Europea senza Illusioni (Milan: Unibocconi, 2011); Lorenzo Buini Smaghi, 33 False: Verità sull’ Europa (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2014); Giorgio La Malfa, L’Europa Legata (Milan: Rizzoloi, 2000); Spyridon Flogaitis, The Evolution of Law and State in Europe (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014); Laurent Wauquiez, Europe: il Fault Tout Changer (Parigi: Odile Jacob, 2014); Eric Zemmour, Le Suicide Français (Parigi: Albin Michel, 2015); Jürgen Habermas, L’Occidente Diviso (Bari: Laterza, 2005); Giuseppe Guarino, Ratificare Lisbona? (Florence: Passigli, 2008); Sergio Fabbrini, Which European Union? (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015); Benjamin Coriat et al., Cosa salverà l’ Europa (Milan: Minimum Fax, 2013); Paolo Savona, L’Esprit d’Europe (Rubbettino, 2007); Ida Magli, Contro l’Europa (Milan: Bompiani, 2007).

2. Paolo Savona, Alla ricerca della Sovranità Monetaria (Milan: Sheiwiller, 1999), p.&nbps;130.

3. In the case of the Unification of Italy in 1871 the national currency was created one year after; In the case of Germany (1870) the new currency was introduced in 1876. Cf. Andrea Cagiati, Roma 2000 Studi Politici Internazionali, p. 87.

4. Delhors, Giscard, d’Estaing, Amato, Ciampi, Prodi, Mitterand, Aznar, Trichet, and many others.

5. G. Tesauro, G. Guarino, M. Barberis, R. Dworkin, S. Flogaitis, G,. Gaja, G. Demuro, L. Bonanate, R. Bin.

6. Hermann Kantorowicz, La definizione del diritto (Totino: Giappichelli, 1962), p. 143.

7. Giuseppe Tesauro, Il diritto dell’ Unione Europea (Padova: Cedam, 2010), p. 9.

8. Marco Patriarca, “Modificare i Trattati Europei,” Nuova Storia contmporanea, no. 3 (2014), p. 81; also published in English as “Should the European Treaties Be Changed?” in the TELOSscope blog.

9. Ulysses Grant at Appomatox, 1865

10. For instance, Spyridon Flogaitis has investigated Johannes Althusius and Grotius on the spirit of the ancient autonomies public statutes in seventeenth-century Europe.

11. The legal statutes among states for solidarity and cooperation between free and independent territorial entities.

12. Matthias Mathijs, Foreign Affairs, November 2013. See also “Europe Reborn: How to Save the European Union from Irrelevance,” with Daniel Kelemen, Foreign Affairs, February 2015.

13. Dean Acheson was President Truman’s Secretary of state and creator of NATO.

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