Conference Briefing Paper - Scottish Independence? Why not European Federalism

The European Functionalist and the financial crisis: A  hidden, realistic and involuntary federalism.

It could be said that European Federalism (EF) is an old idea, and that it is indeed one of the original ideas of European fraternity. Indeed EF has its origins in the 17th Century when Emeric Cruce (1623) in the context of the 30 Years War, came upon the writings of Montesquieu talking about, "Europe as a single country composed of different provinces." That was until Victor Hugo, who proposed in 1849 the conception of the United States of Europe. This is what today we can call Idealistic Federalism, based on ideas a priori and with a strong conciliatory sprit. The concept of European Federalism continued to be developed in the 1920's by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aristide Briand. Eventually, after the tumultuous Second World War the binary of European fraternity, and birth of a new concept of State (in which the rule of law is the main idea for democracy) expressed itself in two different ways when conceiving a new Europe: the old federalist movement of the United States of Europe (with a supranationalist character), and the new functionalist current with an inter-governmentalist approach. The Hague Congress in 1949 was the battlefield of these two different conceptions of Europe in which the functionalist conception lauded by Sir Winston Churchill won the ideological fight. The outcome of a pure functionalist conception of Europe was the creation of the Council of Europe in the same year, and in 1950 the European Court of Human Rights.

Now in parallel, the pressure of the US to increase demand in the old continent, together with a visionary businessman gave birth to the Schuman Plan in which European integration would be grow to later become European Union. The Schuman Plan gave the floor not to a pure European functionalist conception, but to a hybrid between a pure functionalism and the old federalism. As the integration process continued, inter-governmentalist and supranationalism views alternated, which came to be described as: la methode communautaire. The methode communatiare aims to foster the European political integration by means of European economic integration.

Nowadays, the financial crisis in the EU has shown that the Euro currency (economic integration) needs again a further political integration. This methode communautaire is indeed what could be called realistic and non-voluntary federalism, a bottom-up approach (different to the top down approach of the old federalist), where each time in during a bad moment of European history, the only way to survive is by further integration and in essence, by pursuing, without realizing, that old idea: The United States of Europe. It can be argue that, nowadays, the EU is suffering from a strong identity crisis that is at the same time putting doubts of the necessity of the idea of Europe, or the necessity to continue with this realistic federalist idea,. However, history itself seems to have the answer. Each time that the Europe has suffered a great depression, the concept of Europe, and Europe itself, has ended up being strengthened.

Miguel Angel Zaragoza Gimeno  - 12 Sept 2013