Ten EU foreign ministers participating in a “study group for the future of Europe” aim to exert pressure to transform the EU into a federation along the lines of the US. Together they have prepared what the front-page headline in Die Presse describes as a “Plan for transformation into a European state.” On 19 June, the ten ministers* presented an initial report to the EU officials who will likely benefit the most from the initiative: Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker.
The “study group for the future” initiated by Germany’s Guido Westerwelle, which does not currently include an official French representative, proposes to put an end to the dominance of national government leaders and give greater authority to the European Commission – in particular the European Commission president, who will be elected by universal suffrage and granted the right to form a “governmental team”, making him or her the most powerful politician in Europe.
The group also recommends replacing European councils of ministers and heads of state with a chamber “of states” in the European parliament. National competencies, most notably the management of borders, defence and public spending will be transferred to the federation, “making membership of the euro irreversible.”
Die Presse argues that it is not surprising to see diplomats from countries which have lost all of their influence since the Treaty of Nice, signed in 2001, and even more so since the outbreak of the crisis, make a bid to play a more important role. However, the daily concludes –
A clearly defined democratic system resembling a state would probably not be in accord with the mood of several sections of the population. But everyone who wants to safeguard the euro, the single market and political stability, while preventing a widening wealth gap between the North and the South and a reinforcement of nationalist trends will ultimately accept that it is the best way forward.
* Foreign ministers from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain.