A federalist plan for the constitution

Federalist Letter to the European Constitutional Convention

Issue number 2, 19 March 2002

Dear Members of the Convention,

in the debate that, across Europe, has accompanied the first session of the Convention, many have evoked the Convention of Philadelphia that in 1787 drafted the Constitution of the United States of America. A detailed discussion of this can wait for another time. There are only two points on which we want to call your attention today.

The Philadelphia Convention was convened with a limited official mandate: “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation”, the treaty that kept together the American colonies as a weak and litigious league. The first political battle in Philadelphia was on whether simply to propose improvements to the Articles or instead to work on a new Constitution “to give birth to a new and powerful entity”, to use the words of George Washington.

The Convention on the future of Europe is confronted with a similar choice. You may limit yourself to present some amendments to the existing Treaties of the European Union, hoping that they are accepted by an Intergovernmental Conference in 2003-2004. Or you can decide to redesign the fundamentals of the European construction on the basis of democracy, and propose a draft, in articles, of a fully-fledged Constitution to establish a European federation. This would give you the political and moral authority to have your proposals heard, in the member states and in the European public opinion.

The federalists in Philadelphia were clearly recognisable. They had a vision and a plan. The real debate started when the delegation of the state of Virginia put forward The Virginia Plan with the few and clear proposals needed to move from the confederation to what then became the federal Constitution. Today those of you who want to fight for a European federal Constitution have to get organised: get together in a Federalist Intergroup and propose a Federalist Plan with the few clear proposals needed to transform the Union into a federation. Such a Federalist Plan would become the starting point – both inside and outside the Convention – for the debate in the future.

This “Federalist Letter” is issued by the Union of European Federalists as part of the “Campaign for a European Federal Constitution”. For further information and support:
UEF – Chaussée de Wavre 214 d B-1050 Brussels, Tel: + 32-2-508.30.30 – Fax : +32-2-626.95.01, E-mail:
uef.european.federalists@skynet.be – Website: www.federaleurope.org With the financial support, but not representing the opinions, of the European Commission

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