NE PAȘTE PERICOLUL DISPARIȚIEI CA STAT. Papahagi știe ce va urma...Aliatul lui Merkel, Schulz a propus apariția Statelor Unite ale Europei și Dispariția Statelor Naționale până în 2025. Câți din Europa vor apariția SUE?
(deocamdată în engleză)
“Germans, French most in favour of a United States of Europe”, says the headline of this piece from Politico. Citing a survey carried out by the opinion pollster YouGov, Politico goes on to report that 30% of German respondents and 28% of French said they favored the idea of a United States of Europe. Unsurprisingly, the British were the most skeptical, with only 10% in favor.
The background to this is Martin Schulz’s recent proposal for a “constitutional treaty” that would see the EU becoming a political union by 2025. “Such a constitutional treaty has to be written by a convention that includes civil society and the people,” he said. That doesn’t sound too unreasonable, does it?
The leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Martin Schulz arrives for talks about forming a coalition government involving the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), at a parliamentary annexe in Berlin on December 20, 2017. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images
Then came the controversial statement: “This constitutional treaty will then have to be put to the member states and those that don’t approve it will automatically have to leave the EU,” Schulz said.
Predictably, this raised hackles in Britain. Nigel Farage, the firebrand MEP who has relentlessly campaigned for Britain to leave the EU, accused Schulz – who was previously President of the European Parliament – of “hijacking” the word Europe. “I don't believe Europe is that flag, that anthem and those awful glass and steel structures that are there in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg,” he said.
Schulz is a long-standing supporter of European integration, so this proposal should not surprise anyone. But amid all the sound and fury from Farage and other Brexiters, no-one seems to have thought about why he is proposing it now, just after losing the German election to Angela Merkel.
This isn’t anything to do with the EU. It’s all about German politics.
Schulz is the leader of Germany’s SPD party, and his comments were made in a speech to the SPD party conference. The SPD was reluctant to enter into yet another a coalition with Angela Merkel’s CDU. Schulz’s agenda was to persuade them to agree to talks with a view to coming up with some kind of arrangement that might or might not amount to a formal coalition. “We don’t want to govern at any price,” Schulz said. “But we also shouldn’t refuse to govern at any price.”
Schulz’s proposal for a United States of Europe by 2025 was designed to please those who want deeper European integration. But alongside it, he called for a radical shift in Germany’s position on Eurozone reform, claiming that the bloc cannot afford four more years of the sort of austerity measures favored by Germany’s outgoing Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaueble. “We don’t need a European austerity diktat, we need investments in a eurozone budget,” he said. “We need a European finance minister who curbs the race to the bottom in tax policy and ends the insufferable avoidance of tax. We need a European framework for a minimum wage that ends wage dumping.”
Schulz’s reform proposals are similar to those of Emmanuel Macron, the French President. This is no accident. Macron needs Germany’s support to push through his plans for reform of the Eurozone, which include a finance minister, a budget and an IMF-style monetary fund. Merkel is known to be sceptical of his ideas, but has been weakened by her poor election result. Macron, anxious that there should be a stable government in Germany – and ideally one that is open to his ideas - is openly fostering a coalition between the CDU and the SDP. In turn, Schulz, anxious to gain a fingerhold on power in Germany, is promoting something that looks very much like Macron’s agenda. Both Macron and Schulz are hoping that Merkel will agree to some or all of their reform proposals in order to keep her job.
The question is, how much popular support is there for a United States of Europe? Elections across Europe have shown growing support for nationalist parties. In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party is now a coalition partner. And in Germany, the right-wing nationalist party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has won seats in the Bundestag for the first time. It is hard to see how rising nationalism is remotely compatible with a United States of Europe.
But of course, support for a United States of Europe could also be rising. And this brings me back to the YouGov poll.
Politico’s piece seems to indicate that in France and Germany, popular opinion is in favour of a United States of Europe. I’m afraid this is not really true.
The question asked by YouGov was this:
Martin Schulz, party leader of the Social Democrats in Germany (SPD) announced at the SPD party congress his vision to transform the European Union into the United States of Europe by 2025 with a common constitutional treaty. EU members who do not agree with this federal constitution would then automatically have to leave the EU. Generally speaking, do you support or oppose the vision of the United States of Europe by 2025?
The only country where more respondents support Martin Schulz’s proposal than oppose it is France, where 28% support and 26% oppose. But the support is decidedly lukewarm: only 8% strongly support, compared to 14% who strongly oppose. And nearly half the respondents are on the fence. 46% either don’t know or don’t care.
In Germany, 30% of the respondents support the proposal, though only 10% do so strongly. Politico correctly notes that this is the highest percentage support of the countries surveyed. But what the data actually shows is that German views are polarized. An even higher percentage – 33% - oppose Schulz's proposal, and of those, 15% oppose it strongly. A United States of Europe is not nearly as popular in Germany as Politico implies.
Politico highlights the UK as particularly unsupportive of Schulz’s proposal. But in fact, outright opposition to it is much higher in Scandinavian countries. In Sweden - a member of the EU but not the Eurozone - over half the respondents oppose it, 20% strongly so. And in Finland, which is a member of the Eurozone, 48% oppose it. In contrast, only 43% of UK respondents oppose it; most of the rest are on the fence. This might of course be because the UK is scheduled to leave the bloc in 2019, so respondents perhaps feel that the EU becoming a United States of Europe by 2025 has nothing to do with them. But it is striking that in Norway, which is not a member of the EU, opposition to the proposal was nearly as high as it was in Sweden, and considerably higher than in the UK. Clearly, people in non-EU countries can have strong views on the future path of the EU.
However, the views of respondents from the UK and Norway are not the principal concern here. It is the views of respondents from the EU countries that matter. Schulz’s proposal – by his own admission – would have to gain popular support in all EU countries. And if this poll is anything to go by, it is a very long way from getting that popular support. He says that any country that refused to accept the "constitutional treaty" would have to leave the EU. But unless support for a United States of Europe increases considerably across Europe, forcing this through would likely mean dissolution of the EU.
Admittedly, this was a limited poll conducted in a very few countries, and was mainly focused on Brexit. Perhaps there should be another, wider poll to establish whether Schulz’s proposal really has legs. At present, it doesn’t look as if a United States of Europe has any chance of becoming reality in the foreseeable future.