Federalist Letter to the European Constitutional Convention
Issue number 3, 21 May 2002
Dear Members of the Convention
You have surely noticed that a quarter of the voters in the Netherlands, France and elsewhere have started voting for the racist parties of the far right. This is a great worry. But have a quarter of the voters suddenly become racists? Surely not.
A vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen or the late Pim Fortuyn is not a vote for anything constructive or positive, but rather a vote against the way in which things are going. A vote against the anonymous forces of globalisation. A vote against the changing social mix. A vote against a distant and dishonest style of politics.
The starting place for those who wish to fight the rise of racist leaders must be to speak the truth. Many of the efforts to explain the European Union so far resemble nothing more than badly-dyed hair or an unconvincing wig.
So let us be clear – about the good and the bad.
Globalisation can be a force for good, if we have effective and accountable institutions to ensure that democracy does not get swept away in the process. We don’t have those institutions yet, so we have to build them.
The social mix is changing in every European country. But Europe’s inventiveness and cultural achievements have always been rooted in the fact that it is an ethnic and social patchwork. We live with diversity and benefit from it. We must protect it by promoting an EU citizenship based on a philosophy of mutual respect between its varied peoples. Individual countries cannot do this on their own: joint action through the European Union is essential.
And our political institutions must become more open and accountable. How can anyone claim to represent Europeans if they are not elected by and accountable to the European Parliament? The Anglo-French proposal for a permanent president of the European Council ignores this vital question.
Yes, Europe needs a visible face. Yes, Europe needs the capacity to act. But, just as much, Europe needs a democratic system of government. That means the people should choose their own leaders through elections rather than being given them by secretive and mysterious means. No-one could be more distant than an unelected president of the European Council.
We live in a time when many people are protesting against remote and bureaucratic government. As members of the Convention, you have the chance now to make your own stand. A democratic federal Constitution will enable Europe to bring the remote and random forces of globalisation under control, while at the same time ensuring that democracy can replace bureaucracy in the way in which we are governed. That is the way to react to the votes for Fortuyn and Le Pen.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: www.federaleurope.org With the financial support, but not representing the opinions, of the European Commission.