The European Union has been a celebrated part of regional unity for decades, but a push towards a closer EU is veering towards creating a “European super state,” which has brought about criticism from a number of different groups.
The foreign ministers of Germany and France, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jean-Marc Ayrault, presented a joint proposal over the summer to more closely integrate EU member nations in three areas: internal and external security, economic cooperation, and the migrant crisis.
The plan would reportedly create a unified army, criminal law system, and central bank and taxation program. The overall goal of the proposed plan is to create political unity throughout all of Europe, especially as the UK prepares to enact Brexit.
In the wake of the surprising voting result in the UK, right-wing parties in France and other Eastern European countries staged plans to have similar votes. A major concern is that EU officials and policymakers are growing increasingly detached from the concerns and issues of the common people.
The new plan reasserts the EU’s unifying power and seeks to address the concerns of citizens by reminding them that the EU is vital to securing economic and social progress for Europeans. The plan has been supported by the leaders of major countries, including Germany, France, and Italy, who have stressed that it will only work if it gains the support of the people.
Much of the strength and appeal of the EU as it currently stands comes from the connectivity between member nations, including trade deals and easier immigration. Proponents of the new plan say the proposals will only build on current commonalities.
Super State Backlash
However, those opposing the plan have called it an “ultimatum” and worry it would mean countries have to turn over their military, economic, and border control power to the EU. Many countries are concerned about not having any power over important things like military, banking, and admitting and relocating refugees within their own countries.
There are concerns that large nations would dominate the super state and take power from smaller countries. The issue is particularly touchy for four eastern EU members (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia), especially after Russia used undeclared covert war tactics to annex the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
“This is not a good solution, of course, because from the time the EU was invented a lot has changed,” said Witold Waszczykowski, Poland’s foreign minister. “The mood in European societies is different. Europe and our voters do not want to give the Union over into the hands of technocrats.”
Poland has long been an ally of Britain’s in the fight against federalism, so the divide between the countries over the current proposal is especially jarring. Experts throughout Europe have warned that pushing this initiative so quickly after the Brexit vote could push more people away from the EU.
The plan presented is apparently just the beginning, and Ayrault noted that others would soon be added for consideration.
With proposals on the table to increase unity within the EU, the question arises of if the proposed super state would even be effective. According to the plan’s creators, the success relies on the support of the citizens. If public sentiment is any indication, the proposal faces an uphill battle to being confirmed and enacted.
Even the president of the EU acknowledged the concerns of those seeking a less centralized Europe and remarked that “vision of a federation doesn’t seem to me to be the best answer” to the threat of a break-up throughout Europe.
Other leaders have agreed with his remarks, saying that unification plans could be a good idea, but not until after the current shaky atmosphere within the EU is stabilized. So while the European super state is still on the table, it seems to be a long way from reality.