Europe is no creation. It is a rediscovery

Posted on 11. December 2012

by Irma Zulic

8-irma-zulicThe title you just read are, of course, sentences stated in 1972, by the first president of the Commission of the EEC, Mr. Hallstein. When I read it, together with the rest of his speech, I raised my head and saw that on the TV, the news was talking about the final ceremony of awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU. I say final, ‘cause from the time it was announced until today, I read so many articles on this topic that it seemed like the announcement was made around this time, last year.

“Another text on the same topic, c’mon”, you might say. But allow me to try to take you a bit to the very beginnings of the integration process and thus stand back a bit from the political reality. I believe that the conclusion you will make might even be different then your usual consideration on this topic and you might not even criticize this blog entry that much.

To be honest with you, I have always favored a deeper European Integration. In my view the European “divisions”, on which many authors talk about, such as: language, religion, cultural traditions, historical experiences (I thought that Mrs. Merkel will even cry out of joy on this ceremony, and not to mention a beautifully planned scenario: she and Mr. Hollande sitting next to each other, getting up while holding hands – idyllic, don’t you think so?) political divisions (different political systems until the end of Second World War), economic division – were more things which connected the citizens of Europe and issues that logically brought them to a Union, a sui generis – the only one of its kind.

Recently in a discussion, I quoted Altiero Spinelli, one of great advocates and architects of European Integration: “..these neighbors are perceived as friendly nations sharing a common destiny..” (1986). Soon afterwards I was named a federalist (like Barroso), utopist, idealist… Out of all these compliments, I favored “federalist” (without the comparison to Barroso) the most (probably because I do consider myself as one, but also because I have so many arguments to back up my opinion).
So the basics of political science tell us, that there are five key characteristics of federal political systems:

1. Power is divided between central decision-making institutions and regional institutions –> in our case: On the one hand there are the Commission, the Council, and the EP and on the other hand the national governing authorities in Member States
2. The nature of the division is specified and eventual disputes over the division are settled by a supreme judicial authority –> The Treaties and EU Courts are guaranties of this factor.
3. The division of power between the center and the regions is responsibly balanced –> The EU and the Member States do have important powers and responsibilities in different spheres and policies of mutual interest.
4. The only viable form of federalism in modern realities is cooperative federalism –> which is even set by the Treaties.
5. Some policy areas are inevitably the primary responsibility of the central level, because they concern the system as a whole –> In this case many issues are being developed at the EU level, but only to a limited degree and on largely intergovernmental basis such as: foreign affairs, security and defense, citizenship rights, monetary union (not all Member States are a part of it).

Although, the conclusion on whether the EU is already a confederation and moving towards a federation should be clear, I think it will be even better rounded by paraphrasing David Cameron in 1998, when he arguments that Members States concluded several decades ago that their national interest are best served by extending the authority of existing supranational institutions and creating new ones in other spheres. Pretty plain, wouldn’t you agree?

But, I should already get to the conclusion of this text and the connection with the Nobel Peace Prize. The element of peace is undoubtedly very important – not only have these countries not encountered any conflicts again (politics doesn’t count here) but they have also streamed to unite in helping to stop the conflicts and wars across the globe. But for me, what is very important and worth the Prize is the fact that this sui generis keeps on growing, expanding, deepening and all of this is made by the strength of people – old, young, women, men, heterosexuals, homosexuals, disabled – people, in whose commitment you might doubt because according to some polls they are against the idea of an even closer Union, but they still keep it running and keep trying to make it an even more perfect mechanism.

So, if I was one of the Presidents, who received the award today, I would devote it to the people of Europe, because the people are the one who will continue to work “united in diversity.”