Joschka Fischer: “From Confederacy to Federation – Thoughts on the finality of European integration”

Joschka Fischer

Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, “From Confederacy to Federation – Thoughts on the finality of European integration”, Speech at the Humboldt University in Berlin on 12 May 2000

 “Fifty years ago almost to the day, Robert Schuman presented his vision of a “European Federation” for the preservation of peace. This heralded a completely new era in the history of Europe. … Quo vadis Europa? is the question posed once again by the history of our continent … The institutions of the EU were created for six member states. They just about still function with fifteen. While the first step towards reform, to be taken at the upcoming intergovernmental conference and introducing increased majority voting, is important, it will not in the long term be sufficient for integration as a whole. Enlargement will render imperative a fundamental reform of the European institutions … Question upon question, there is a very simple answer: the transition from a Union of states to full parliamentarisation as a European Federation, something Schuman demanded 50 years ago. And that means nothing less than a European Parliament and a European Government which really do exercise legislative and executive power within the Federation. This Federation will have to be based on a constituent treaty. I know that the term “federation” irritates many Britons. But to date I have been unable to come up with another word. If the alternative for the EU in the face of the irrefutable challenge posed by eastern enlargement is indeed either erosion or integration, and if clinging to a federation of states would mean standstill with all its negative repercussions, then, under pressure from the conditions and the crises provoked by them, the EU will at some time within the next ten years be confronted with this alternative: will a majority of member states take the leap into full integration and agree on a European Constitution? Or, if that doesn’t happen, will a smaller group of member states take this route as an avant-garde, i.e. will a centre of gravity emerge comprising a few member states which are staunchly committed to the European ideal and are in a position to push ahead with political integration? “

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