The Future of the European Union

Editorial from KP, No. 12, June 9, 2001

The EU Summit, June 15-16, in Gothenburg, Sweden, marks an important step towards the European Union as a federal state.

After Nice, the process towards a constitutional conference in 2004 has to be speeded up and new steps forward have to be taken. Before the summit, a number of key persons in European politics - except England's Toni Blair, who has been busy with the national elections and does not dare to formulate a EU policy - are busy with giving their views on the future of the EU.

And after the German Social Democratic Party issued Gerhard Schroeder's plan for a federal state, patterned on Germany, there is a great demand for the views.

Last week, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin held a big speech about the French view on the future of the EU and the development after the Nice Treaty. Not surprisingly, he proposed a stronger union with France as the pattern.

And the day after, the turn had come to the Italian Chairman of the European Commission, Romano Prodi. In his speech in Paris, Prodi advocated, not surprisingly either, that the EU should have a stronger commission and direct EU taxation should be introduced.

According to Prodi, the commission shall be the "economic government" of the EU and the political counterpart to the European Central Bank. Among other things, it shall have control over the euro, and, oddly enough for an "economic government" (whatever that means), control the foreign policy of the EU as well. In plain language, Prodi advocated to turn the commission into a proper EU government.

Among his other proposals was the introduction of a direct EU tax, which should replace the current national contributions. According to the Chairman of the European Commission, the EU tax would "create a direct bond between the EU and the citizen" (sic) and make the financing and expenditure of the money more transparent.

With his proposals for direct EU taxation, Prodi closely followed the ideas of French Prime Minster Jospin about tax harmonization, which were put forward in his big speech and should be viewed as the French answer to the German visions for the EU.

In the Danish media, Jospin's speech has been depicted as an expression of opposition to the German plan for a real federal state in 2004, but that picture is completely wrong. Jospin, too, wants the "United States of Europe" however much he calls it the "Europe of the Nations" or the "Federation of Nation States" in order to please the French opinion. The overall essence is the same: A federal state, but Jospin's form is one with strong French colours.

Jospin's speech was also a proposal for negotiations: "In the end, there has to be found a compromise, which is acceptable to all," Jospin said.

Schroeder, Jospin and Prodi have speeded up the creation of the federal state, with the commission as its government, joint constitution and own taxation. There exist slight differences reflecting the interests of different national monopoly groups and being part of the everlasting battle for power in the EU, but the direction is the same: A federal state in 2004.

As usual, the Danish government and opposition are sitting on the fence, not daring to propose anything because of the massive popular opposition to the EU. Even a proposal of following Jospin's "visions" just a little bit has been ignored in deadly silence.

A Danish debate about this is not wanted, neither close to the upcoming parliamentary elections nor at all, because it could not just make clear to the Danes that all models of the EU's future are models of a federal state, but also point out that the federal state already is a reality, that the super state called the EU, with all what such a construction requires in form of currency, army, police, courts, intelligence services and other institutions, already exists, has been decided, or is about to be decided.

The constitution and the final organization of the political structures are just the last part of the project, crowning the achievement so to speak, with the direct taxation as its symbolic and practical expression.

The Danes could, if they were told the truth, get the good idea of wanting to get off instead of being pushed along the way.

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