Superstate or power-sharing?

Federalism is the political philosophy of the dispersal of power. It proposes the division of political power between levels and institutions of government to achieve the best combination of democracy and effectiveness.

Since 1938, Federal Union has campaigned for federalism for the UK, Europe and the world. A common philosophy and a common set of federalist values underlie its approach to all these three different levels of governance.

Why a federal Britain?

The British system of government was for many years one of the most centralised in Europe. There have been steps towards devolution and regional government, but there is further to go. More powers should be taken from Whitehall and handed to regional and local government, which in turn should have its democratic legitimacy enhanced.

Federalism means:

  • Devolution for England too, alongside the other parts of the UK
  • All devolved parliaments and assemblies to have more and clearer powers, including over some aspects of taxation
  • More powers for local government to take decisions on behalf of their own communities
  • A democratic second chamber including representation of regional interests
  • A bill of rights and a written constitution

Why a federal Europe?

At the heart of the British attitude to Europe is a misconception. Our own political system has been highly centralised, and we often assume that any European system must inevitably go the same way. But this is not the case. Federalism protects the rights of citizens and the member states, while enabling them to act on issues where they are no longer able to take effective decisions on their own.

Federalism means:

  • A written constitution that defines and protects the rights of citizens and the member states
  • All laws and the budget approved by the European Parliament
  • The Council of Ministers meeting in public and voting by majority on legislation
  • The European Commission elected by and accountable to the European Parliament
  • Citizens protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, guaranteed by the courts
  • An effective and coherent approach to energy, environment and foreign policy
  • A common currency and passport-free travel area

Federal Union welcomes the emergence of regional organisations elsewhere in the world reflecting the experience of the European model.

Why global federalism?

We are a long way from world government, however desirable such an idea might be in theory. Nevertheless, issues such as climate change and regulation of the financial markets need an effective approach at global level. The organisations set up to do this should be equipped with real powers and sustained by real democratic credentials.

Federalism means:

  • Reform of the UN Security Council to abolish the national veto
  • A consultative parliamentary assembly at the United Nations
  • A fairer distribution of votes within the IMF and World Bank
  • Effective regulation of the international financial markets
  • Open and accountable meetings of the G20 and other international summits
  • International climate change agreements given the force of law to make them effective
  • The International Criminal Court bringing the world’s worst criminals to justice

What future for federalism?

Federalism proposes that democracy and the rule of law should apply between states as well as within them. The alternative is continuing international instability and the domination of a few strong superstates over the rest.

Federalism offers the British people a means of gaining more control of the way their country is governed. It is leading to a democratic and effective European Union. And it points towards reforms of the global system that would ensure security and prosperity for us all.

If you find what Federal Union thinks, says and does attractive, please join us.  Members of Federal Union receive a regular newsletter, invitations to conferences and seminars, and updates on federalist thinking and campaigning. It is the UK section of the Union of European Federalists and of the World Federalist Movement.

You can join Federal Union by following the link here.

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