The federalist principle is that all decisions in society shall not be made on a higher level than necessary. Each individual has the right to exercise maximum influence over all matters which concern him/her, limited necessarily by the rights of other individuals. The power structure of society must be such that the authority to deal with a problem lies where the problem arises or naturally belongs. Principles of democracy must be introduced at all levels: at the place of work; in residential communities; in educational institutions.
What can be achieved by federalism?
To allow federalism to be effective, institutions must exist at every level with sufficient powers to permit and implement the necessary policies for the good of the individual and the community as a whole. Problems present themselves at local, regional, European and world levels.
As much decentralisation as possible within federalist principles is important in order to overcome the problem created by the present political and economic structure of centralised nation states, namely:
- large, centralised and remote bureaucracies, leading to the alienation of their citizens and to less participation in the decision-making process;
- cultural, political and economic suppression of different minorities by the ruling majority;
- division of natural minority entities by nation state borders, thus creating strong tensions;
- standardisation of culture through methods such as the centralisation of the media at national level;
- suppression of local diversity and civic vitality;
- a bias in the economic structure towards a national approach that stifles regional development and consequently gives rise to a tendency for economic activity to concentrate in certain areas.
A federal Europe should be based on coordinate and independent levels of government, for example: district, city, region, nation, transregional area, Europe. The nation state should be incorporated in a federal structure as well, in order to let the cities and regions be coordinate but independent with the national and European level.
A federal Europe based on autonomous entities gives an answer to the above mentioned problems. Even those policies that have to be decided on a higher level should if feasible be administered at a lower level. In order to achieve this a substantial measure of devolution will be required to restore the balance that has been eroded during the development of the centralised nation state. It is important that regional divisions in Europe take account of both cultural aspirations and economic realities.
In the framework of the future European Union the unity of current nation states should not be considered inviolate. Europe's regions should be able to exercise self-determination. The regions must be given real economic and political power, thus enabling them to deal directly and more efficiently with their own problems. The decision-making process at a regional level must be democratic and based on regional institutions.
The common interests of peoples divided by present national borders may lead them to create new political entities. This process may only be conducted democratically; any such changes must be based on the consent of those affected. Transregional cooperation (e.g. the Nordic Council and the Alpe-Adria Community) should be developed into an important factor in Europe. The transregional level will be the essential link between the lower and upper levels in a federal society in Europe and in the world.
The countries of Europe share a common cultural, economic and political background. They have been characterised through centuries by similar development patterns. A federal Europe would be open to all European countries which are prepared to adopt federalist principles. This would be the best way to safeguard the interests of all Europeans.
The national dimension has become completely insufficient to assure economic growth, environmental protection, social justice, democratic decision-making and sustainable development. The creation of a European Federation would lead to a more effective way of dealing with such issues. These can only be solved by a supranational body which in the long term will prevail over the short term national self interest.
Internal discrepancies in economic development could effectively be reduced through binding coordination by a European government. Balanced economic development will strengthen Europe as a whole.
Among the already existing European institutions, the EU should be considered as the nucleus of a European Federation. A more federal structure for the EU is needed fully to achieve economic prosperity, social justice and environmental protection.
The present political structure of the EU does not permit true European interests to be pursued. The EU should not be governed by the representatives of the members states' governments. The Heads of State and governments, their ministers and their unelected civil servants currently hold the power to block or to modify every decision. They represent their national interests and therefore usually ignore a true European standpoint. The development of European politics should be the result of a democratic process where real European needs are taken into account. The European Parliament is regarded as the potential federator of Europe. It must have the power to take on its constitutional functions and to plan a constitution of the European Union. The European Parliament will not be given such a power if it does not have the support of a large part of the public, and especially young people. The Council of Europe plays a role in the process of all-European integration promoting all-European cooperation and protecting human rights in a growing number of European states. Peace is the fundamental value of the federalist movement. JEF's main goal in this field is thus to reach a cooperative all-European system of mutual security. The development of the OSCE into a supranational structure together with the progressive enlargement of the European Union will provide the appropriate framework to pursue the above-mentioned goal.
A European Federation should not be a terminal point in our efforts to obtain a better world. Instead, a European Federation ought to be seen as a starting point towards a World united by federalist principles as the best guarantee of world peace.
A World Federation is the ultimate goal of all federalists. The principle of solidarity should not be limited to Europe but should also be extended to global relations in order to overcome the great disparities between North and South. A strengthened structure for the United Nations organisation is the only way to increase its role in the world integration process. JEF therefore feels part of the world federalist movement.
The Young European Federalists know that their political heritage is autonomous and original and that therefore it is up to them not only to cultivate it but also to spread it. Their purpose is to meet the young people in Europe, for they hold the future in their hands. An ever increasing number of young people will have to be won for the federalist struggle in Europe, leading the way to international democracy and world peace.
source : JEF-Europe