Reunification of the British federalist organisations – 6 September 2008

Richard Laming

By Richard Laming

We have some exciting news of a proposal to reunite the federalist organisations in the UK, Federal Union and the Association of World Federalists. The AWF was founded as a spin-off from Federal Union back in 1965 – the committees of the two organisations believe that now is the time for them to come back together once more.

Partly this is because of the political issues we are discussing. After all, it is no longer possible to think about global issues without thinking about Europe.

For example, any serious proposal for reform of the UN Security Council cannot simply raise to the status of permanent members new countries such as India, Brazil or Japan without also addressing the continuing membership of France and the United Kingdom. That in turn requires rethinking the way that the EU as a whole is represented at the UN, and indeed the way it makes foreign policy in general.

Similarly, any efforts to manage the global economy and restore some kind of order to the financial markets will require negotiations on the relative exchange rates of the US dollar, the Chinese renminbi and the euro. It is clear how the Americans and the Chinese would engage in such negotiations, but it is not all clear how the Europeans would do so. What is the proper role of the European Commission, the Council, and the European Central Bank? The necessary decisions on how the eurozone should conduct its external representation have yet to be taken. Until this is done, the global economy will remain ungoverned.

It is not only the world that must take notice of Europe: Europe must take notice of the world.

For example, a Europe that is attractive to immigrants and has a growing Muslim population has to think about its relations with North Africa and the Middle East. A Europe that wants to protect its citizens and their economic interests from the threat of climate change cannot do so without the cooperation of the other major world economies. And the next major threat to European public health will probably arise in a poultry farm somewhere in south east Asia. There is no longer a meaningful Europe-only policy on terrorism, environment, or health.

If the political issues are a compelling reason to reunite, there are also the practicalities. Neither Federal Union nor the AWF is, if I may put it like this, a large organisation, and they will both be stronger if they join forces for events, publications and campaigns. A joint website and newsletter in particular will carry the news and comment from both.

These are the reasons why the committee of Federal Union proposes to reunite with the AWF, but it is not for the committee alone to decide. An Extraordinary General Meeting will be held on Saturday 6 September at King’s College London to discuss the proposal and, I hope, endorse it. Details of the meeting are set out here – I hope you will be able to attend.

This article was contributed by Richard Laming, Director of Federal Union, who may be contacted at richard@richardlaming.com. The opinions expresssed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union.

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