Rhein on Energy and Climate

The rise of global population by another three billion people and the accompanying economic development until the middle of the century will exclusively take place in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Europe’s population and economy will at best stagnate. It can maintain its exceptionally high living standards only if it invests massively in education, research and technology. But whatever it does, its relative share in global affairs is bound to shrink to as low as 5-6 per cent of world population and global economic product. China. India, Brazil and the USA will be the four dominant powers around 2050, combining more than one third of global population and economic product.

There is no way for Europe to change this course of events. It can only adapt to the new constellation and should,indeed, do so rapidly to make the best of it.

First of all, Europeans have to be become fully aware of these trends. That is the conditio sine qua no for any corrective action.

Second, it would be suicidal for Europe to remain as fragmented as at present.

Europe has to converge towards a European federation by 2050. It will need effective EU ministries in three crucial areas: foreign policy, defence policy and macro-economic policy.

  • The 27 national diplomatic services have to be merged into a single European one, operating under the authority of an EU foreign minister responsible to the European Parliament and financed by the EU budget.
  • Similarly, the EU will need to establish a defence ministry and chiefs of staff in charge of a European army, arms procurement and defence strategy. The EU will replace member states in the NATO. Defence expenditures will be fully covered by the EU budget.
  • The powers of the future EU Treasury will be more limited: it will not replace national treasuries, which will remain in charge of national fiscal policies and budgets, which will make up the bulk of European public expenditures and revenues.

Still, the EU Treasury will need far-reaching powers to make sure that all member countries respect the fiscal discipline that will become an intrinsic element of future European macro-economic policy.

  • All other departments will continue to remain in national hands; the EU role being complementary in areas where it can do operate more effectively than 27 member states acting separately.
  • The Euro must progressively be extended to all member countries. It will need wide coverage in order to become one of the three reserve currencies, alongside with the RMB and the USD, 2050. The ECB must, of course, preserve its pivotal place in the European economic construction.
  • The EU 2050 will need European-wide party organisations to support the European construction. This process is under way but requires a forceful push.
  • The European federation must remain highly decentralised, comparable to Canada or India, reflecting European history and its wide differences of habits and traditions.

Third, to achieve these momentous changes the Lisbon Treaty will need a profound overhaul. Member countries will have to transfer their traditional functions in external affairs and defence to a European government, which will be fully accountable to the European Parliament. And they will have to subordinate basic elements of their fiscal policy to a European Treasury.

To turn the EU into an effective actor at the world level all decisions must be taken by qualified majority. For constitutional changes a super-qualified majority should do.

These are far-reaching steps, unprecedented in history. Member states will cease being “masters of the Treaty” and national sovereignty should no longer be an

argument against the Union making bold steps ahead.

Fourth, there will be mountains of opposition against these sea changes.

Local, regional and above all national politicians lack the vision of the momentous and often painful changes that Europe will have to prepare for in the coming decades , and which will imperil many cosy positions and privileges.

To overcome the many deep-seated objections Europe will have to engage in a sustained political, constitutional, philosophical and geo-strategic debate concerning its ambitions and constraints in the coming decades .

That debate must go far beyond “Europe 2020” blueprints. Academics, journalists, politicians, sociologists and constitutional lawyers and historians must intensively participate in what should become a unique European exercise of forward-looking.

Fifth, future enlargements are likely to constitute a drag on the necessary internal reforms. The EU should put internal consolidation over expansion. The EU 28, with Croatia included, should make sure that any new member country accepts going going beyond the Lisbon Treaty. The EU member countries should sign a solemn political declaration to that end, when the 29th member country will sign an accession treaty, say in 2016.

Sixth, not being presently in the mood for envisaging such sweeping changes,the EU should take as many intermediary steps as possible without major treaty changes to facilitate future reforms.

  • In macro-economic policy these are under way with the establishment of “economic governance”.
  • In foreign policy the creation of the foreign service blending EU and national diplomats represents a first though timid step towards a future EU ministry for foreign affairs.
  • In defence, the EU has set up the basics of a planning staff; there are the Franco-German brigades and some cautious beginnings of common weapon procurement.

The EU should give a boost to these developments and make them more effective and visible. That will help citizens realise that European integration is already further advanced than they are aware.


Author :


  1. The sincerity of the France and the UK in this project could be quickly verified if they were both to relinquish their permanent seats on the UN Security Council giving one to the EU and freeing up another. Both France and the UK are hardly world players in their own right.

  2. Glad to see this big picture discussion Eberhard! Many leaders have lost the picture since the days of the founding fathers and the slogan ‘Unite or perish’. On (1) Schuman said that without a untied Europe, the countries would not only have unsatisfactory competition but it would lead to ‘world suicide’ because European values would be lost. He said that in May 1949. (2) A classical federation is not a solution as it is less fair, less efficient, less flexible compared to a supranational Community system. None of the past multi-national federations survived. A Community approach provides better foreign policy positions, clearer, and with more democratic control. (3) The present leaders have already made clear they do not want to see a revision of the Lisbon Treaty, because they fear referendums and lack of public support. The Community system provides for full democratic discussion before revision, but this way has been squashed by the present political leadership. (4) The previous 3 D Democratic Debate prior to Lisbon was not a debate but PR spending spree to pass the already rejected Lisbon Treaty. The supranational Community solution of the founding fathers was not discussed at all. The Commission and Council spent no money and released no documents about the early Community system, nor any comparison documents. They have still not published the full text of the Schuman Declaration nor the Great Charter of 18 April 1951, defining principles of unity. (5) Signing another document when the politicians refuse to publish earlier ones shows that this is futile.(6) Economic government — when the Lisbon Treaty has seriously weakened anti-cartel powers of previous treaties — is likely to lead to economic governance by a cartel through the dominant poltiical parties. (7) No change can be successful without a solid democratic foundation. The present system needs reforms including starting by having parliamentary elections based on Europe-wide elections — as designated in all the early treaties and never fulfilled. Elections are also requied for organised civil society as requried there too. The present system is a cartel of the three major parties who have little popular support. It is now deeply embroiled in political-financial crises and frauds much of its own making for which it expects the public to pay. It has no longevity.

Comments are closed.