- Europe english
´´Tertium non datur´´
EU: a federation around the euro or a return to the nation-state
Since the end of January, European affairs have undergone an acceleration. The informal European Council of 30 January and the European Council of 1-2 March made a commitment to stimulate growth and reduce unemployment. A letter drawn up by twelve states, calling for an action plan for growth – largely inspired by a committed pro-European like Mario Monti – and for the completion of the Single Market, established the tone of the final communiqué of the last summit.
Then, on 20 February, the Ministers of Finance of the Eurozone reached agreement on a second programme for Greece, which aims at reducing the country’s debt/GDP ratio to 120.5% by 2020. A financial package amounting to some 130 billion euro has also been promised to the public sector in Greece between now and 2014, on condition that all the conditions laid down have been properly satisfied. The private sector has accepted a nominal ‘haircut’ of 53.5% of Greek debt. Lastly, on the institutional level, the Treaty on the European Stability Mechanism was signed on 2 February, while that on Stability, Cooperation and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union was signed on 2 March. In his speech during the signing ceremony of this latter, the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, furnished a just explanation of these two Treaties and their magnitude: “Since the sovereign debt crisis erupted two years ago, we have all along dealt with it by moving forward on two parallel fronts: responsibility and solidarity. On the one side enhancing the responsibility of individual countries, on the other giving concrete form to the solidarity that each has towards the whole. This Treaty is a major step towards more responsibility, just like, for instance, the Treaty on the European Stability Mechanism is a major step towards more solidarity”.
Significant efforts to resolve the crisis have thus been made in the Union. These efforts are guided by a more federalist view in the context of the Monetary Union. This Union must remain open to those who might adopt the common currency in future, but a greater differentiation within the EU as a whole seems inevitable. This view of a federal and political Europe is the proposal of a generation of European politicians, men and women, which was born long after the Second World War. It is inspired as much by the past as by the present, with its challenges linked to globalization.
Angela Merkel, who rests her hopes on a political union, forms part of this generation, among many others. The French Benoît Coeuré, who at the age of 42 has become the new member of the board of directors of the European Central Bank, was even more explicit in an interview he gave to the French paper “Libération” on 14 February: “The Treaty is only a first stage towards a real budgetary union. It was thought that the Monetary Union was the culmination, the cornerstone, of the Single Market whereas now we are realizing that it is only the beginning of the political union. [...] If Europe wants to exist in the age of globalization, it must be reinforced and move towards greater integration, irrespective of what form this might assume and be decided on by the peoples of Europe. Europe has no choice other than that of organizing itself around the euro if it is to exist in a globalized world”.
The reaction of European citizens to this view of Europe will be henceforth decisive. They will also express their views through a referendum, as in Ireland or eventually in France and the Netherlands. The debate on the two Treaties and their ratification will crystallize the alternative between a more federal view of Europe and the revival of a purely Westphalian system (i.e. one based on nation-state sovereignty). “Tertium non datur”: i.e. there is no third option, there is no alternative. Ever since the sovereign debt crisis erupted, the middle way – in force since the Maastricht Treaty – has become untenable.
09/03/2012 - Stefan Lunte - France