Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

, by Philippe Adriaenssens

Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

Exactly 30 years after the Federalists had finally succeeded in getting the representatives of the peoples of Europe directly elected to the European Parliament (EP), the new MEPs are starting off their mandate in Brussels with the lowest degree of legitimacy ever. With the turn-out for the June elections at a historic low of merely 43%, euro-apathy seems to have reached a new peak while a newly formed euro-sceptic group in the EP openly calls for a lesser role for the EU.

Add to this that the enlarged Council of 27 member states has lately been marked by an increase of nationalist reflexes and intergovernmental bargaining thus deflating the EU’s transparency and further undermining the power of the European Parliament and Commission. At a time that global environmental, economic, social and security problems are crying for decisive solutions at European level, these tendencies are extremely worrying. But in the face of this triple challenge – of euro-scepticism, nationalism and global crises – it is now, more than ever, up to the European Federalists to reach out to the citizen and re-affirm their belief in a democratic supranational model.

What the citizens demand

Luckily, there is good news too... During the remarkable European Citizen’s Consultations (ECC), a representative number of citizens from all EU countries were brought together in Spring to discuss what the EU can do to shape their economic and social future in a globalised world. [1] They came up with 15 substantial recommendations for the EU, among which we list in particular: reducing global warming and phasing-out fossil fuels while promoting renewable energy, establishing a common health care system with equal basic standards, creating a harmonised Labour Code with the same working conditions and rules for everyone, increasing social protection and combating social inequalities by converging the different welfare systems, accelerating the flow of information in the prevention and detection of crime, regulating financial markets (their actors and products) via a central supervisory body and investing additional resources in the quality of all levels of education. The May summit of the ECC in Brussels did not only reveal these solid ideas for EU policy-making, it was at least equally interesting that participants had come to the conclusion that when invited to reflect on the most pressing challenges facing society, they became aware that stronger action from the EU is needed in order to tackle these adequately!!

Federalists should be wary of using too dogmatic language, broaden their institutional scope and concentrate on policies because only then will citizens’ interest be aroused.

This revelation brings good news for us, Federalists, but also big responsibilities. It shows first of all that we are not preaching to deaf ears since the citizens widely share our conviction that only Europe is able to take on society’s challenges. But it also proves that we need to find ways to communicate our credos better and confront the citizens with the one single solution to their concerns: having an EU that is more democratic and better equipped to rise to their high expectations.

How the Federalists can respond

In order to answer to the call of the citizens, Federalists should first and foremost adopt a more lucid and accessible interpretation of the very cause they seek to promote. Federalism should therefore (1) become ideologically less dogmatic, (2) incorporate a broader institutional view and (3) focus more on concrete policy fields that the citizens can perceive and relate to.

Firstly, an orthodox ideology that focuses solely on the creation of some kind of federal super-state too often sounds elitist, unacceptable, if not scary, and threatens to alienate people rather than to unite them. Federalism should therefore be communicated as something very basic and understandable: it is all about wanting “more Europe” instead of “less Europe”, independent from any political colour or party ideology. What we need is a return to the “politique des petits pas” of the Founding Fathers, a strategy of gradual integration in various sectors, the pooling of resources, more solidarity, coordination and harmonisation, common decision-making and the incremental shifting of competences towards a supranational level whenever necessary, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity wherever possible. Cooperation at a higher level is even in the enlightened self-interested of any federated unit because it avoids unnecessary competition as well as duplication. This is the only way to take the wind out of the euro-sceptic’s sails and rally the citizens behind a simple message of European brotherhood.

Secondly, in institutional terms, Federalism means the negation of all manifestations of nationalism or intergovernmentalism. The construction of a democratic European federation is a continuous work-in-progress that will not be finalised overnight. Yes, we demand a Constitution in the long-run and should be the first ones to start up a Europe-wide petition to collect one million signatures for launching a new Convention once the Lisbon Treaty comes into force. But there are many more fronts on which Federalists can win institutional battles. We want ever more Co-decision for the EP and the application of more Quality Majority Voting in the Council in an effort to integrate both institutions into a bicameral system. We want a higher ceiling for the Community budget than the poor 1.27% of GNP and more fiscal leverage through EU taxes. We want the European Parliament to be able to initiate laws. We want enlargement so as to increase regional stability. We want more weight for the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in the decision-making process to ensure a meaningful involvement of civil society. We want transnational sections on the European electoral lists on which the candidates for the Commission should run. And we want a more partisan functioning of real political parties in the European Parliament who vote on the President of the Commission (before the Council does) and scrutinise his/her government in an opposition-coalition dynamic.

Thirdly, concerning the practical implementation of the ideology, we should formulate as many Federal policy solutions as possible to the world’s environmental, economic, social and security challenges in reply to the citizens’ concerns. It is ever so important that we communicate to the citizens how the EU influences their daily lives and how they in turn have an interest in more integration to prepare for our common future. We thus need to formulate daring proposals for the European project. Only Europe can fulfil the citizen’s recommendations proposed in the framework of the ECC. Only Europe can tackle climate change and ensure sustainable development. Only Europe can diversify the production of energy and negotiate as a united bloc with foreign suppliers. Only Europe can strike the right balance between a market, a social and a green economy. Only Europe can provide independent financial supervision, avoid protectionism and bring an end to tax havens. Only Europe can harmonise fiscal and accounting standards. Only Europe can phase out the trade-distorting agricultural subsidies and redirect more funds to regional and cohesion programmes. Only Europe can guarantee basic human rights for asylum seekers and promote social integration for migrants. Only Europe can abolish visas for neighbouring countries and facilitate the application process for work permits. Only Europe can collectively combat cross-border crime and prevent terrorism. Only Europe can speak with a strong voice in the UN Security Council, G8, IMF, World Bank and Kyoto Plus negotiations. Only Europe can conduct a single foreign and defence policy that contributes with the necessary responsibility to peace building, human security, development and good governance globally. In short, because these challenges are all cross-border in nature and because our societies are all interconnected, it is only when we convince the citizens of the need of overcoming national short-sightedness that they will appreciate the tangible improvements that “more Europe” can bring.

Conclusion

Federalists are a generation ahead because they see beyond the borders of time and space. They understand that the international challenges of tomorrow cannot be tackled by the national means of today. Federalists are bridge-builders who want to close the gaps in democracy, transparency and efficiency in the current European constellation and equip it with the institutions and policies to prepare for the future. At the same time, they are bridge-builders between the citizens and the decision-makers in Brussels by striving to reconnect them. In their effort to bring Europe closer to the citizens, Federalists should be wary of using too dogmatic language, broaden their institutional scope and concentrate on policies because only then will citizens’ interest be aroused. In fact, the European Citizens’ Consultations demonstrate that there is a federalist hidden in the vast majority of Europeans, they are just not all aware of it yet… This is why we have to actively reach out to them via presentations in schools, debates in universities, public events, international seminars, street actions and the media aiming to reverse euro-apathy. Through their commitment to a supranational European destiny, Federalists thus blow life into the concept of European citizenship and add to the strengthening of the European consciousness and even the development of the European demos. In doing their job, they eventually contribute to the emergence of – paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln’s words – a European government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Image:
- Young European Federalists

Your comments

  • On 21 August 2009 at 10:55, by Ralf Grahn Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    Dogmatic or not, isn’t the simple way to convey the message to require a democratic European Union, based on its citizens?

  • On 21 August 2009 at 18:22, by Manu Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    Mmh...

    I don’t really know where to start (although there would be the obvious starting point of your claim that “the new MEPs are starting off their mandate in Brussels”, which JEF and UEF Secretariat - along with JEF Strasbourg - will no doubt appreciate, since it was probably uselessly that they organised a JEF street action for the first plenary meeting of the new EP, where MEPS actually, really started off their mandate, i.e. in Strasbourg, however much you’d love Brussels to be the single capital of Europe).

    Most important is the vision (or should I say the self-assumed lack of vision?) of federalism conveyed by this article.

    Of course, one should not be dogmatic about what federalism is. Of course, one should speak in understandable terms. But when you say “an orthodox ideology that focuses solely on the creation of some kind of federal super-state too often sounds elitist, unacceptable, if not scary, and threatens to alienate people rather than to unite them”, it seems to me that you are some sort of journalist talking about federalism without ever having taken part in JEF international seminars, let alone read anything serious about it.

    This description of federalism is more the one which is given by anti-federalists than by federalists themselves (except a few individuals or marginal hard-liners within the federalist movement, who basically want to plaster the model of the traditional - federal - nation-state at the European level).

    Federalism, said Denis de Rougemont, is above all “the love of complexity”. Trying to subsume this whole debate to a manichean choice between a federal super-state and an incremental approach “à la Jean Monnet” is a rather unfederalist way of reasoning. There must be - and there are! - some middle ways.

    In one of his Ventotene speeches, Richard Laming once said that there are as many types of federalisms as there are of federalists - and probably more than that!

    I think any communication on what federalism IS should concentrate on the common points of those various approaches. But that goes well beyond the nice but useless “it is all about wanting ‘more Europe’ instead of ‘less Europe’”.

    If that’s what federalism is all about for you (or at least if you you thing that it should be reducted to that for the sake of convincing citizens), I suggest you go and campaign in other “Euro-béats” movements, such as Pan-Europe, which lacks the ideological substrate that give them a coherent view of the future of Europe, or AEGEE, which is also committed to “more Europe rather than less Europe”.

    You say that “what we need is a return to the ‘politique des petits pas’ of the Founding Fathers”. Oh, do we, really? The least you could do would be to have a less assertive stance... Many federalists will tell you that we have gone along the “politique des petits pas” for a while, because it could also foster real federalist demands (such as the end of border controls, the direct election of the European Parliament, the single currency, etc.)

    But many federalists will also tell you that the state of the EU since the Treaty of Amsterdam shows that we are now too big and institutionnally crippled to move ahead towards the goal of federalism by using the step-by-step approach. For many, the text produced by the Convention on the future of Europe was the best text that could have been drafted, given the need to accomodate the demands of so many countries, in a context where the States maintain their massive political clout.

    With this line of reasoning, we have to accept that, contrary to what you claim, the EU needs a political break-through, not a step-by-step change which might improve the current framework, but not turn it into a federal one. We can keep on improving the legitimacy of EU institutions, develop co-decision, increase the EU budget. At some point, we will have to come to terms with the fact that not everybody wants to same thing from European integration, and that perhaps differentiated integration could be of some help to implement federalism for several Member States, before extending it to the others.

    Otherwise the very nature of the European Union, however much one changes it, makes it incompatible with a genuine federal order (that is what the German constitutional court basically acknowledged in its judgement on the Lisbon Treaty).

    I should conclude here, because I’ve been too long already. I just want to stress once again that if federalists want to be heard, they should first be clear about their aim and about their strategy, and promote them with clear and understandable words, but not try to water down their very ideological basis, otherwise their message will not be different from anybody else.

  • On 25 August 2009 at 14:49, by Nicolas Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    A very un-federalist way of seeing things.

    You suggest we carry on with this functionalist strategy, which showed its limits already.

    Contrary to what you say, we need to propose a clear political horizon (with statal unification as a clearly stated aim, so that we can explain the logic behind it, and also create a common symbolical ideal, something that can speak to people’s hearts), underline the fact that we are planning to strive for the politicizing of Europe and therefore wage European battles, above all in the European and national parliaments (instead of the executive of the EU or of Member States, or before the ECJ), and not be afraid of being bold: European taxation, massive investment in Europe-wide regional land-planning, minimum social standards.

    But all this requires three changes:
    - accept a multi-speed Europe with a coalition of the willing forming an vanguard hard core
    - put an end to the great coalition in the EP for the sharing of posts
    - and finally, make sure that the Parliament itself uses all of its powers against the Commission, so that it, too, can one day be more politicized...

  • On 26 August 2009 at 10:16, by Philippe A Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    Thanks for further clarifying my point, Manu. It is exactly to avoid such journalist-style or eurosceptic reactions that we should be careful of using too dogmatic language. Nowhere did I mention that we should water down our ideology and I can assure you that a newly proposed amendment to the Statutes states it even clearer than ever before: “The goal of JEF is the creation of a democratic European federation.”

    Wanting “more Europe instead of less Europe” is in my opinion exactly the common ground that is shared by all federalists, from the activists in the streets who talk to the citizens to the orthodox diehards who fall in love with the EU’s complexity in their books. Why being narrow and exclusive when we can have an accessible communication approach that is more encompassing and which still leaves room for inspiration to be drawn from more noble, idealistic demands?

    Yet, in the past decade, I haven’t seen too many grand federalist demands being translated into practice, unfortunately (the € being decided in the middle of the 1990s already). Depending on the general political climate, we should definitely continue to aim high while we can shoot lower on gradual integration in specific fields at the same time until we arrive at a truly European government with a powerful parliament. I wish you good luck waiting for your sudden political break-through but Federalists dispose of more ammunition in their ranks than for chasing the text of the Constitutional Convention only and can thus easily widen their sight to other institutional and policy battles!

    If we want Europe to come closer to the citizens, Federalists should do so as well, instead of locking themselves up in an ideological ivory tower where they take comfort in patting each other on the back. A healthy mix of political idealism and realistic action would make us different from anybody else...

  • On 27 August 2009 at 09:05, by Fabien Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    Very funny this photo : the Young European Federalist - France had prepared a small demonstration for the “birthday” of 29 mai 2005 (date of the No for the frensh referendum). The message was : a constitution for Europe.

    We’re in 2009 and the message is still right...

  • On 27 August 2009 at 11:58, by Manu Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    A few short replies to that:

    “Wanting “more Europe instead of less Europe” is in my opinion exactly the common ground that is shared by all federalists...”

    This is so right that this common ground is also shared by many people who are ANTI-federalist. Let’s be clear and place ourselves in the line of Lord Lothian’s “Pacifism is not enough”. Well, it’s the same here: “More Europe is not enough”. It is a very nice aim, but it doesn’t say anything about HOW we get there. the answer is “federalism”, and if we’re not clear about that, we can just close up JEF and all join up AEGEE. The common ground of federalists is not “more Europe”, it is “federalism”.


    “Why being narrow and exclusive when we can have an accessible communication approach that is more encompassing and which still leaves room for inspiration to be drawn from more noble, idealistic demands?”

    It is not a question of being narrow and exclusive. Our job is to explain that federalism is much more than simply “more Europe”; it is about bringing democracy, bridging the democratic deficit of the EU, and fighting national self-interests. I don’t see that as being narrow.

    Besides, “more Europe” may perhaps even be a ANTI-federalist slogan. Because subsidiarity is not about concentrating as much power as possible at the European level. It is about making sure that each level does what it can best do. It does not necessarily imply “more Europe” at all stakes.


    “Yet, in the past decade, I haven’t seen too many grand federalist demands being translated into practice, unfortunately (the € being decided in the middle of the 1990s already).”

    Well, I remember that we were that close of getting some “sort” of European Constitution in 2005; it wasn’t exactly a federal constitution (and that’s probably one of the reason why many people in France voted against it, because they felt fooled by the discrepancy between the name “Constitution” and the Treaty-content), but it was a step in the good direction, thanks to the mobilisation of federalists between 1999 and 2003...


    “Depending on the general political climate, we should definitely continue to aim high while we can shoot lower on gradual integration in specific fields at the same time until we arrive at a truly European government with a powerful parliament.”

    And it is my turn to wish you good luck in keeping on board all Member States to reach the high aim. Experience showed already that all of the EU simply doesn’t want federalism. What you call gradual integration is a gradual improvement of the EU, not its transformation into a federation, an aim which you de facto postpone sine die.


    I wish you good luck waiting for your sudden political break-through but Federalists dispose of more ammunition in their ranks than for chasing the text of the Constitutional Convention only and can thus easily widen their sight to other institutional and policy battles!

    Or “how to give up any political ambition”. Thanks for us, our forefathers were REALLY thinking “a generation ahead”. Yes, Victor Hugo was deemed a fool when he said at the Peace Congress in 1849, that, one day, we would have “fatherland without borders [...] trade without customs, [...] youth without barracks [...] justice without scaffold...” Yes, Spinelli was deemed a fool when he fought for European federalism, and proposed a Treaty establishing a European Union in 1984. Without it, we wouldn’t have had the Single Act and the Treaty of Maastricht. They were the real federalists who were a generation ahead and who enabled small but important improvements. And you suggest that we stick to small-scale institutional demands, without campaigning for a grand design that could motivate activists?

    I can take to the streets and campaign for a European Federation (and explain what it means to dispel the ill-founded prejudices towards it), not for more QMV in the Council or an “incremental shifting of competences towards a supranational level whenever necessary”.

    I’m sure we agree on the utimate aim, but we clearly have different views of the strategy to pursue it.

  • On 27 August 2009 at 15:45, by tilleli Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    When I read such comments, I wonder in which dimension some people live and what is their conception of federalism.

    Concerning the three changes proposed:

    - accept a multi-speed Europe with a coalition of an [sic] vanguard hard core: I would really see which countries are really so willing to participate in such a coalition and which partners they would accept to have. The idea that Germany and France could be part of it makes sense only because both countries would de facto have a veto power and they would not merge competences in which they do not have a common position. Rather than a federation, this would be an old-style Holy Alliance with one or two hegemonic powers.

    - put an end to the great coalition in the EP for the sharing of posts: if the distribution of tasks really was the main aim of the “great coalition” it could be composed by a smaller majority in order to give more positions to each of the involved parties. The true reason for this composition is that at European level the right-left divide is less relevant than the pro-/anti-Europe divide. Tax and social policies that usually characterise the left-right divide are not among the competences of the European Parliament so far. If this should change one day, other constellation could be imagined, but the European parties in their present form would possibly cease to exist.

    - and finally, make sure that the Parliament itself uses all of its powers against the Commission, so that it, too, can be more politicized: It is completely absurd to propose that the Parliament should use its powers against the Commission. The Parliament has a supervision power on the Commission, but it should work with it and support it in order to provide good solutions to European Citizens. Not to provide them entertaining but completely destructive debating shows.

    If this is the political project for a European coalition of the willing, I hope that only Liechtenstein and Monaco will join it: it will be a quite entertaining show, and they have enough money to afford a querolous government system.

  • On 5 September 2009 at 22:20, by Manu Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    i wish it were also right for Philippe and for the mainstream of JEF-Europe, but nobody seems eager to really campaign for federalism this day...

  • On 8 September 2009 at 12:31, by Philippe A Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    You know very well that AEGEE is not a political organisation like ours and that they are fishing in another pond.

    More Europe is a conclusion that was drawn by the citizens during the European Citizens’ Consultations and it means to me that in various policy fields a better equipped and better functioning Europe (with more democracy, transparency and efficiency) is demanded which is the very anti-thesis of nationalism. An orthodox federalist might not want to believe this, which is his good right, but as a pragmatic federalist, I do. My vision is not about watering down federalism, it is on the contrary about widening the concept in an attempt to talk more about tangible federal (!) policy solutions that arouse the citizens’ interest in a more diverse way than just ‘federalism’ as a stand-alone concept. Whereas some dogmatists only find it satisfactory to chew the stone of the cherry over and over again, I am quite sure that most JEFers and especially the citizens would prefer to taste from the entire fruit.

    I guess you are stretching the concept of anti-federalism a little too far there. If they ever started to preach for more Europe, I would very much welcome their slogans. Subsidiarity means on the one hand that decisions have to be taken as close as possible to the citizen while it can also imply more Europe at the other hand since it allows community action when an objective would be insufficiently achieved by national states and can thus only be effectively tackled at the supranational level in order to deliver optimally for the citizen.

    Art. 5 of the EC Treaty spells it out as follows: “In areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Community shall take action, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the Community.”

    Politics is about more than launching noble ideas only. What Victor Hugo and Spinelli have written or said is visionary and constitutes conceptual progress but this is in itself not sufficient. We owe the current state of integration at least as much to pragmatic politicians who gradually carved out the concrete path. Many elements have been brought to the Christmas tree but I for one prefer the current state of affairs way above the situation 60, 50, 40, 30, 20 or even 10 years ago.

    Rome wasn’t built in one day either. Widening our focus and hammering out a variety of federal solutions to today’s challenges eventually adds to achieving our final goal: the creation of a democratic European federation. Certainly, we don’t want to waste our campaigning energy for the sake of small institutional changes only, but whoever will be reaching out to the citizens or taking to the streets for whatever event can appease his/her hunger with the fruits of this article that is offering an entire range of federal proposals JEFers can further elaborate and feed the hungry citizens with.

  • On 8 September 2009 at 13:55, by Philippe A Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    I did unfortunately not choose the pic myself but I did suggest in my article we could start up an EU-wide petition once the Lisbon Treaty is in force aiming to collect 1 million signatures to launch a new Convention that can keep the Constitutional debate alive. Hey, but wait a second, isn’t such a clause just an excellent example of the real progress that gradual integration could bring about?

    In fact, this is exactly one of the reasons why I was the very first one at the Copenhagen Congress 2 years ago to plead strongly in favour of the Reform Treaty. And although swimming against the orthodox current is maybe not always very popular in certain federalist circles, I understand most JEFers now want the ratification and entry into force of this Treaty very badly because it constitutes a step in the right direction, even if not perfect. After all, there must indeed be as many federalists as there are types of federalism, no??

  • On 12 October 2009 at 15:13, by Peter Claeys Replying to: Challenges that ONLY FEDERALISTS can take on

    Dear Philippe,

    I have read with a lot of attention your text on the objectives Federalists should have. It is with delight that I read this discussion, as I finally see a discussion within JEF of who we are, and how we should connect to the outside world with our message. I believe that the core of your message is one of possibility. We have time and ideas on our side, and it is the moment to put them at work by relating them to real life. We can have long internal discussion, philistine debates on detailed points of the EU construction between ourselves, but we have to put over a concrete and understandable message. I therefore agree with the substance of your document ; perhaps I have some remarks or extensions I want to make on these. I list them point by point :

    (1) become ideologically less dogmatic:

    high flyingdebates on delicate points in a possible EU constitution is interesting only for the happy few. You do not warm a public (and possible members) with Treaty articles, but with points that demonstrate the failure of national-based policies. It is easy to convince people about the practical gains of integration, much less so about abstract institutional points.

    (2) incorporate a broader institutional view

    At the same time, we should not neglect our roots. The academic debate on federalism has not stopped in the fifties or sixties, and there is much we can learn from recent developments in federalism (in political sciences, economics, etc). The EU has spurred much debate in the last two decades in universities and research centers. There are many new ideas about federalism around. It our task – and duty – to translate these new ideas in practical policy proposals. There are many areas where we can make a difference. That will not bring federalism tomorrow, but the sum of many small steps will.

    (3) focus more on concrete policy fields that the citizens can perceive and relate to.

    as a citizen, I simply see the imperfections of current EU integration in everyday life (health care, education, ...), and if you talk to people, they too sense these problems. But they often fail to see that the answer lies in more Europe in that case. But more Europe does not mean a superstate. I would rephase it as more unity in diversity. In many areas, more Europe would bring a lot of benefits. But in order to relate to citizens, it has to be close to them. There will be different degrees of Europe for different policies. But here we can make little steps that gradually convince EU citizens of all the possibilities closer integration imply. We do have- and can create more - facts on the ground.

    We can be more imaginative than proposing slight modifications of current EU rules. If we want to make a breakthrough, it is necessary to be more audacious in creating new possibilities. To take just one example, why not launch the idea of a European Environment Agency led by Mr. Green to take measures on global warming, giving them the right to levy an EU carbon tax? And why not collaborate with environmental groups to propose an EU law, after collecting one million signatures, on that matter to the EP?

    The points (1) to (3) are not just important for a federal Europe; they are also necessary in our own functioning. First, by being too dogmatic, we really put off possibily interested members in continuing with us. We have an incredible offer to make to new members: international contacts, practising languages, etc. We could potentially be the private counterpart to the Erasmus experience. But too many people go away once they perceive the topics we discuss and our functioning. Second, we practice too little the idea of federalism ourselves. Again, there are excellent possibilities to connect with members in many countries. But we do not use modern tools to exploit all possibilities of our network, and we remain focused on a national basis, with little communication. Much too often, we look like the current EU itself, with far away discussions on unclear topics, equilibria between sections and persons to take into account, decisions that are prepared and imposed from the center. If we do not put ourselves at work on that, society at large will bypass us. In some aspects, they do already.

    Best regards,

    Peter

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