In this article I will tackle the idea of federalization of Europe (with its positive and negative sides) and how it can be compared with Germany’s federal system. The large differences between the states in unified Germany are a particularly heavy burden on federalism, because its institutional set-up and the repertoire of strategies available to its participants at the time of unification were all premised on the assumption of a relatively homogeneous federation. Germany’s federalism in contrast to the American model, political authority in the German federalism is not allocated to any one level of government but is shared by the federal government and the state governments. More specifically the state governments are in charge of most areas of public administration. Germany’s federalism comprises a network-like system of interlocking politics, which bridges the high level of vertical and horizontal differentiation and fragmentation of the decision-making process. Within these policy networks, all participants find themselves in a series of interdependent decision-making structures. Interdependence with the willingness and ability of the major political actors to co-operate pervaded German federalism to very large extent.
The “founding fathers“ of the Federal Republic’s constitution placed major emphasis on the formation of constitutional state, the interdependence of the judiciary and the establishment of a powerful Federal Constitutional Court. The federalization of Europe will greatly benefit the people of the EU. A federated Europe will be able to act as a political whole, while still carefully maintaining the cultural and ethnic identities of its component states. With its new-found unity, the EU will exercise more power in the wider world, and internal policy making is likely to go more smoothly as well. With time, the tensions between the economically successful northern countries and the less successful southern countries should diminish, as all sates come to realize they are in this Union together.
Negative point of federalism is that federalism creates laborious laws that are often not in the best interest of every nation involved. What’s good for a small country in one part of Europe may not be good for a large country. With so many mundane laws to comply with, economic progress will be hampered and it will stall growth in the region. The UK is very much against of federalization of the EU. Anti-EU Torries are very much against it and they are calling for exit from the EU. “The heart of the matter is that the very nature of the EU, and of this country’s relationship with it, has fundamentally changed after the coming into being of the European monetary union and the creation of the Eurozone, of which – quite rightly – we are not a part,” Lord Lawson wrote.
One of important meetings and discussion happened in Nice. EU members met in Nice to discuss how best to divide responsibilities between the federal and nation-state levels of government. While no agreement was forthcoming at this meeting, representatives voted to finalize the framework by the end of 2004. The two sides in this debate are: those who favor so-called “intergovernmentalism” or nation-state supremacy; and the federalists, who want Europe to operate as a super nation with a parliament, courts, taxation system, professional bureaucrats and, possibly, a president. In essence the Europeans are facing the same task the framers of the U.S. Constitution did when they decided “to form a more perfect union”: how much power will be given to member states and how much will reside in the federal government?
One of federal ideas for the EU came from German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. His idea is more of a formation of a European supergovernment. His proposal calls for the non-elected, bureaucratic European Commission in Brussels to form a new government, possessing wide-ranging powers. Schröder suggested that the European Parliament would consist of two houses, with the existing legislature becoming the lower house and the council of ministers, an already-existing forum for national governments, being the upper house. The reorganized European Parliament would gain supervision of the European budget, including massive agricultural spending. Schröder also envisions a president, who would be chosen by one or both of the chambers of Parliament. Other than that idea, Lionel Jospin’s vision of a unified Europe calls for a federation of nation-states, falling short of establishing a strong federal government. Jospin’s proposal did call for sweeping socialistic reforms, including the harmonization of common law and criminal law, and the establishment of an EU police force.
Federalization of Europe can be and should be very good thing to finally unite whole Europe and very good way to make European identity. With strong judiciary system and strong Court that can control whole process, it should be possible. But for now, it is very difficult because of different views on taxation and some other approaches how to spend the European budget. The UK has its own views on that, and they are always going to be in conflict with the Brussels and Germany as major actors in the EU.