I was not necessarily destined to like Europe. Born only three months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I grew up in world where the USA had won their ideological war against the Soviet Union. Communism was defeated and capitalism, in its most deregulated form, could expand all over the world with no substantial alternative. My father is an anarchist and has always seen Europe as a monster of technocracy and ultra-liberalism, governed by lobbies and big capitalists. He is not completely wrong. Then, my historical education, made by an amazing but cynical professor diverted me from the dream of a great European democracy. France’s political context as well, in which the idea of Europe is at best missing, and at worse strongly criticized by a bunch of cynical and retrograde politicians since the failure of the Constitutional Treaty in 2005. And then came this divine day of October 2012, when the news broke and came as a revelation in my heart and in my mind: the European Union had just been given the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of six decades of work promoting "peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights". Our Union, always denigrated, kneeled down by the financial markets and the sovereign debts crisis since 2009, was finally awarded for its outstanding work. In the first half of the 20th century, Europeans had a taste of what the Apocalypse could be like. Their lands, their people, their values were burnt to the ground. And yet, they decided, after World War II, to stand up and rise in order to build a better world and a peaceful Europe. Peace. Priceless thing that we don’t cherish anymore, unlike our grandparents who endured real Hell on Earth with wars and destructions, hardship and extermination.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was lived as some sort of an “end of History” as the American historian Francis Fukuyama said it. Along with the creation of a single currency and the integration of our brothers and sisters from Eastern Europe, we guiltily thought that no further effort was to be made. Unfortunately, making Europe is like loving someone: if you want to make it last, you must build the relationship with time and work on it everyday. I have been lucky enough to travel quite a lot and therefore able to value the incredible advantages that life in Europe provides us. Yes, our continent is experiencing a huge crisis, unfair austerity packages and rising poverty, and this must be fought vigorously. But we live on the most stable, the most secure, the most pleasant, the most egalitarian, and the freest continent on Earth. Our schools, our hospitals, our public gardens, our national parks are free. Our Arts and cultures are preserved in museums and libraries. We are free to think, to talk, and to read whichever press we want. Along with the impetus given by the government, a Frenchman’s standard of living has been multiplied by 3 since 1950 thanks to the European Union. By 3 ! We can travel in most countries around the world without any restriction. How many peoples, how many human beings can say the same ?
One point must be made: Europe’s current situation is critical. Most Europeans think our union is not working, and they’re absolutely right. Our union is not working because we stopped our march towards more integration. Our union is not working because it’s not democratic enough, hence people’s disinterest for European issues. Since the missed opportunity of the Constitutional Treaty in 2005, the dream of building a federal political entity has disappeared. With the rise of the third Millennium, Humanity, from America to Asia, from Oceania to Africa, was looking at Europe with hope and admiration because we were about to fulfill the “European dream”. This dream that was going to make Europe the world’s leader and would see its noble values released around the globe. Europe should have been the radiant political power of the 21st century. But the dream didn’t come true.
Our system is no longer efficient. Unemployment destroys our economies, austerity packages lead to social disasters that leave millions of Europeans behind. The euro crisis proves it, day after day, year after year. Twenty years ago, we welcomed all the advantages of the single currency without accepting its counterparts, meaning a transfer of sovereignty on a federal level. A single currency with 18 different public debts on which financial markets can speculate as they please, and 18 different fiscal and social systems competing with one another, it doesn’t work, and it will NEVER work ! The Eurozone countries have chosen to share their monetary sovereignty without developing new economic, social, and fiscal instruments establishing a common budget. This inefficient interspace is renewed at every single “last chance summit”. On a political level, the current confederal system makes the European Council the master of all decisions, without any democratic control from European citizens. The European Parliament, whose prerogatives were supposed to be strengthened by the Lisbon Treaty of 2007, has been reduced to almost nothing during the euro crisis management by the Merkozy couple. In the end, the German chancellor compelled her European partners to implement drastic austerity measures confining us into deprivations of all kinds. The European Commission is so over manned (28 commissioners, one for each country) and so weakened – because of the European Council’s omnipotence – that it has lost its legislative initiative power. Then yes, our union is not working, but we, as citizens, are also responsible since we accept this failure. That’s what the French MEP Sylvie Goulard calls the “voluntary servitude” against the tyranny of European institutions. Fortunately, nothing’s irreversible and History is made by men. Nobody thought the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union could collapse, and yet they did. Nobody had foreseen the Arabic revolutions of 2011, and yet, they happened. We have the power of making things change. We the people, Italians, French, Greeks, British, Latvians, Hungarians, Germans, Slovenians, we European citizens can make the change on the upcoming European elections by voting for real federalist candidates !
With the terrible crisis we’ve been enduring for the last six years and its disastrous consequences (unemployment, poverty, disintegration of social relations…), we should have realized that the nation-state model is now long dead ! Although it is comforting, this model is simply not adapted to the world we now live in. A world in which only superpowers like the USA, China, Brazil, India, Russia are to decide the world’s business. Our supposed “national sovereignty” is a lost illusion. It’s already the case today and it will go from bad to worse. By the year 2025, no European country will longer be part of the G8 Summit ! 2025, it’s in ten years. 2025, it’s tomorrow. If we stay put and don’t move forward towards more unity, we won’t be worth anything in the 21st century’s world, unlike what eurosceptics and nationalists of all kinds keep claiming. All this is difficult to admit for a Frenchman, deluded since he was born with the myths of the exceptionality of the French Revolution and the providential man embodied by Napoleon and de Gaulle… But the world has changed, faster than us. With the development of new technologies of information and communication since the 1980s and the ever-growing expansion of the Internet, the monopoly on knowledge acquired by the Western World for so many centuries – its competitive advantage - has come to an end. We must accept it. 75 years ago, France, Germany, and Poland were fighting in the most dreadful war the world has ever seen. 75 years later, 28 European countries are united within what is seen as a considerable human achievement. Today, we have the possibility of making things change for the best and go further. We must think ourselves in a long cycle. Whereas markets are totally globalized, our political structures remain the same as in the 19th and 20th centuries. The finance industry and large multinational corporations don’t care about rules and regulations voted by “sovereign” States. Now, to quote Spanish writer Javier Cercas, the question is simple: "do we want our children to live as Europeans or work as Chinese ?". That is what is at stake today, let’s face it. Let’s get rid of patriotic positions that, far from serving the national interest, only serve the own little interests of a bunch of cynical politicians. Political leaders should enlighten and inspire their constituents, not follow them and play with their fears.
Most European citizens feel lost because of the huge changes occurring since the 1980s. Our lifestyles and ways of thinking have been largely modified, leading to a loss of our traditional bearings. The failure of the two main ideologies that drove the 20th century, communism with the fall of the Berlin Wall on the one hand, and deregulated capitalism with the 2007-2008 financial crisis on the other hand, leaves us in front of a paralyzing ideological void to fill. Our political leaders, for lack of giving a substance to the European dream, have got nothing to offer on the long run. Left-wingers, right-wingers, they remain prisoners of outdated schools of thought. We need a new goal, a new reason to live together, a new ideal. This ideal is within easy reach, it’s Victor Hugo’s, Stefan Zweig’s, Winston Churchill’s, Enrico Letta’s. It’s the United States of Europe.
The world is changing and we’re entering a new era. Look around you: everything’s changing so fast. Our planet has never been as connected as it is today. It has never been so easy to learn, to travel, and exchange. We’re living a revolution of a remarkable intensity, like the Renaissance in its time. We must rise to the challenge and continue our march towards progress on this noble path drawn by our ancestors, from Plato to John Locke and Voltaire. As a symbol of this change of era, Pope Francis urged all Catholics to “build bridges and not walls”. These words should apply to all of us, Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, French, English, Italians, Danish, Irish… It’s a message of hope. It’s a message of peace that encourages us to open our hearts and souls to others, to accept them in their difference. We must regenerate, with reason and intelligence, to create a better future and a more beautiful Europe. Let’s unite because it’s the only way we have to improve our lifestyles and our strategic position in the world order. The only way we have to regain on a federal level this sovereignty lost on a national level. It’s time to think over the real advantages of a political, social, and fiscal union compared to the failures of the current status quo, or worse, of nationalist temptations. Each and every European citizen, with their cultural and personal history, their ideas and values, must contribute to build a European Federal Republic, as for all us, Europe is the only way we have to civilize globalization.
Novo ordo seclorum : A new order for the Ages. It’s the motto written of the back of the Great Seal of the United States of America. Let’s think about it. The American federal model contains a whole number of virtues that would be useful for Europe. We should look at it and adapt it to our cultures, our traditions, and our political systems. We have the possibility to create a superpower reconciling unity and diversity; a continental democracy where Liberty, human dignity, the respect of diversity, and the fight for a sustainable development would be erected as fundamental values. A superpower that would renew with a long-term growth and offer prosperity as a reward. United, we aim at inspiring Humanity. United, we will become powerful again, and we will be able to spread our values, our principles and our norms (social, commercial, environmental, sanitary, ethical) all across the world. Tolerance, Liberty, Solidarity, Equality, Respect of Human Rights are our common heritage. These values transcend our political differences and echo in each and every one of us.
Our Europe will be mighty if we provide the right means to it. First of all, Europe must become much more democratic than it is today, in order to establish a common ground accepted by most citizens. This implies a change in our institutions through a European Convention in charge of writing a new Constitution, which should be short, clear, and balanced. This founding document should set the relationship between the three powers (legislative, executive, and judiciary) and between the federal government and the States. A multi-speed Europe can be the solution here : let's imagine a European Federal Republic centered around the Eurozone ; the other countries joining us step by step, according to their specificities. Everything must be discussed in order to look up to the future and not get tied down to the past.
This manifesto does not pretend to own the one and only truth. However, I’m convinced that the powers of the European Parliament should be strengthened because there beats the heart of our European democracy. The legislative power should be shared with the European Council, our Senate, where each State gets an equal representation, and the decisions of which should be taken by simple majority (and not unanimity as it is today). If we elect the President of the United States of Europe, in charge of the executive power and able to propose bills, our weight in the world would be considerably heightened and would enable Europe and Europeans to defend their interests everywhere on Earth. Finally, the Court of Justice of the European Union should become a real Supreme Court checking the constitutionality of the laws voted by the European Parliament, and arbitrate disagreements between the federal government and the States. The federal government’s prerogatives should be clearly defined: foreign policy, defense and common security, monetary policy, regulation of commerce between the States. The rest should be left to the States. Taxation should be split between both entities. The federal tax will supply the federal budget, which will be the armed wing of the future Republic financing wide and ambitious programs of professional training, re-industrialization, education, energetic transition, common defense… It is the cheapest and most efficient stimulus plan we could ever consider ! All these programs should be labeled “Europe” to help building the spirit of Europe and show that our union is alive and makes the change for its citizens’ welfare.
Too often, the EU is stupidly intrusive on secondary matters and pathetically powerless on crucial issues. We must reverse the order of priorities: less Europe when the States are doing well by themselves, more Europe when unity is the key to our success. Both national and European requirements should coexist with mutual understanding. The executive power should be strong enough, as it is in France, to firmly defend our interests in the world (let’s think about the current situation in Ukraine where Vladimir Putin is free to act as he wants before the absence of a common European response) but controlled by a whole system of checks and balance like in Germany so that democracy always prevails. Federalism is neither a constraint nor a threat, but the most appropriate tool to rule complex human groups. Building the spirit of Europe goes through a higher visibility of pan-European political parties and a much larger place for European issues in the media. The civil society, artists of all kinds and opinion leaders should stand up, participate, and lead this march to progress.
I belong to the “Erasmus generation”, this wonderful exchange program that enables us to live and study in another European country in order to discover new ways of thinking, learn a new language, develop our mutual understanding, and blossom personally and professionally. I’ve had the chance to live this amazing experience, but unfortunately, too many young Europeans remain excluded from it. As they remain, like their parents, on the edge of globalization and its numerous opportunities. I’m thinking about people living in the suburbs and people living out in the countryside, who do not get the same opportunities as city dwellers do. Every young European should have the same chances of success and enjoy the same programs and opportunities. What their country hasn’t been and won’t be able to give them, the United States of Europe can ! Every nation has a soul and Europe’s, since its creation, lies in one word: integration. Europe must act, for its youth, for its citizens, towards always more integration: integration to globalization, social integration, political integration, economic integration, regional integration, linguistic integration. All across our continent, all across the world, we’re lucky to share English as a common language. Let’s work on that because the more we can understand each other, the more our success is guaranteed in this globalized world.
Citizens of the youth, citizens of Europe, it is time to make Europe and get the control of our lives and destiny back. The next European elections are the ideal moment to start the regeneration of our societies within a new country. We must imagine what our future could be like in 5, 10, 20, 50 years and not be scared of tomorrow’s world. If we want to build a new Europe with more justice, more freedom, more equality, more solidarity, and more prosperity, we must, at the end of May, send a powerful message to our political leaders, our European fellow-countrymen, financial markets and dictators that violate human rights everywhere in the world:
WE WANT EUROPE ! NOW !