Building a United States of Europe

Pushing for Unity

“What threatens us is not too much Europe, but too little Europe,” wrote French President François Hollande on July 19. He called for a new parliament to govern the eurozone, a new eurozone government that would have its own budget.

The idea of closer integration has strong support across Europe. Guy Verhofstadt, one of the top leaders in the European Parliament, tweeted his support of a “political union” during the latest iteration of the Greek crisis.

Most importantly, it has strong support in Berlin. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called for a eurozone parliament and a “European budget commissioner” a year ago—almost the same recommendations as Hollande. Just two days before Hollande’s article, Spiegel Online published this interview with Schäuble.

“We have to move further toward establishing a political union,” he told the newsmagazine, calling for EU nations to hand over parts of their taxation and spending powers to Brussels. Schäuble is arguably the most powerful man in Germany, if not the European Union, right now. His views carry weight.

But it is more than merely people pushing for unity. The design of the euro itself is also forcing it. As the Trumpet and many others have reported, the euro was designed to cause a crisis. A common currency cannot work without some kind of common government.

“If some form of federalization comes about, it will not be because the French especially desire it, but because the logic of the euro ultimately demands it,” wrote Matthew Del Santo in his article “Are We on the Threshold of a United States of Europe?” Spiegel concluded that “if the economic government fails, so will the euro.”

City A.M., a British business newspaper, used the same logic, writing that “for the single currency to survive over the longer term, euro countries will have to integrate further, involving greater fiscal and political coordination. If this doesn’t happen, the eurozone will disintegrate.”

“Despite the short-term costs of keeping Greece inside, eurozone leaders have shown themselves to be unwilling to accept disintegration,” they continued. “So the logical conclusion is that further integration must follow.”

Raising Taxes

The plans for European unity go much further than rhetoric. The groundwork for this unity is being prepared in the most concrete way possible: plans for a eurozone tax.

At first sight, this may not seem so important. But money and power are intimately tied together. In Britain, for example, there was no decision to have a man called “prime minister” take charge of running the country. Instead, Robert Walpole gained control of how the nation’s tax money was spent—and thus became “prime minister” by default. Because he controlled the money, he controlled the nation. The term prime minister was first used as an insult by those who thought Walpole had gained too much power.

Germany in Charge

A push toward a superstate still has its opponents, however. German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears to be a skeptic. The German Council of Economic Experts, official government advisers, are cautious.

There are many complicated reasons for opposition, but the objection of these Germans is simple. If Germany signs up to a democratic superstate, then southern Europe can vote itself access to more of Germany’s money.

Germany will not support a United States of Europe unless there are rules in place that stop this from happening. And since Germany is the de facto leader of Europe right now, there will be no United States of Europe unless it happens on Germany’s terms.

A Smaller Union

Even with Germany’s objections overcome, uniting the 19 nations of the eurozone into a single superstate is a tall order. Which is why the French president suggested that a smaller group of nations form a “vanguard” and press ahead, even if other members of the eurozone aren’t ready to take this step. His prime minister, Manuel Valls, suggested that the six founding members of the EU—France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemberg—could be part of this group.

This too may be part of Germany’s agenda. Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis recently explained how he saw Germany’s aims:

[German finance minister Wolfgang] Schäuble believes that the eurozone is not sustainable as it is. He believes there has to be some fiscal transfers, some degree of political union. He believes that for that political union to work without federation, without the legitimacy that a properly elected federal parliament can render, can bestow upon an executive, it will have to be done in a very disciplinary way.

And he said explicitly to me that a Grexit is going to equip him with sufficient terrorizing power in order to impose upon the French that which Paris has been resisting: a degree of transfer of budget-making powers from Paris to Brussels.

Full article: Building a United States of Europe (The Trumpet)

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