European federalism

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As European federalism , a concept referred to the expansion of the European Union with the aim of establishing a federal European state seeking (also United States of Europe called).


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States of Europe

According to today's understanding of the European federalists, the EU should receive its own constitution, which includes a competence competence , i.e. the possibility to determine the distribution of competences between the Union and national states according to the constitutional requirements. The demands of the European federalists thus go beyond the current structure of the EU as an association of states , in which the Union has supranational sovereignty rights, but these can only be changed by intergovernmental agreements between the individual member states. With the establishment of a European federal state, the European federalists expect a further democratization of the EU, since the European Parliament would gain influence over the European Council .

Opposed to European federalism are the demands for the transformation of the EU into a purely intergovernmental confederation without supranational competences. The dispute between these two positions, which has taken place in different forms since the beginning of European integration , is known as the finality debate .

On the occasion of a panel discussion in Berlin on November 17, 2011, the President of the Federal Constitutional Court , Andreas Voßkuhle , stated that the vision of a European federal state is not in a “visionary distance” . “How could a European federal state be built in which such trust can develop? We shouldn't carry on as we have before, don't pretend that we have a lot of leeway for further integration steps . ” Vosskuhle warns of a “ creeping transformation into a European federal state ” , “ which we cannot control ”. "It may be that we are talking about a European federal state in the distance and do not realize that we live in a European federal state."


As a political movement, European federalism had a significant influence between the end of World War II and the establishment of the European Communities , which manifested itself in particular through the Union of European Federalists . Later, the influence of European federalism waned as the creation of a European federal state was increasingly viewed as unrealistic. It was not until the turn of the millennium that it regained its shape in the public debate, among other things because the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer committed himself to a federal European constitution in a speech at the Humboldt University in Berlin in 2000 . Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt made a similar statement . However, the later adopted draft of a “ Treaty on a Constitution for Europe ”, which was rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005, did not meet the demands for a European federal state, but continued the model of an association of states.

The goal of European federalism can now also be found in many programs of political parties: In Germany, for example , the Greens , the SPD , the Free Democrats , the Pirate Party , the Humanists and Volt are calling for a European federal state. Even though well-known representatives like Ursula von der Leyen, Helmut Kohl or Konrad Adenauer spoke out in favor of a European federal state, the party as a whole is critical of the idea of ​​European federalism. In the course of the strengthening of eurosceptic movements, this idea is seldom endorsed by the CDU.

Organizations with federal goals, such as the European Movement International , for their part usually avoid too close rapprochement with individual parties in order to maintain their views on both the political right and the political left. Today, the parties in the political center tend to be open to European integration, while the parties positioned far to the right or to the left tend to take Eurosceptic positions. In Germany, some politicians used the Lisbon judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court as an opportunity to demand the goal of the United States of Europe again. In the run-up to the ruling there were still doubts that the Basic Law was compatible with a European federal state.

In September 2010 the Spinelli group was founded in the European Parliament , which advocates European federalism.



Hertensteiner Kreuz , first symbol of European federalism and the European movement

The first initiatives to create a European federal state took place in the early 1920s, especially in the Paneuropean Union founded by Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi in 1922 and in the Federal Union around Philip Kerr (Lord Lothian) . They experienced greater expansion in the Europe-wide resistance to National Socialism during the Second World War. In 1943 the European Federalist Movement ( Movimento Federalista Europeo , MFE) was founded in Milan , which adopted the Ventotene Manifesto , written in 1941 by the anti-fascists Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi , as a program in which the nation-state was to blame for the outbreak of war and the establishment of a European one State as a priority for the post-war period. The German resistance group White Rose also took a stand for a European federal state.

The green E, flag of the European Movement.

In the post-war period, European federalism experienced a boost from Winston Churchill's speech in Zurich on September 19, 1946, in which he called for the establishment of the United States of Europe. On the same day, at a conference of European federalists, the Hertenstein program was adopted, which a few months later led to the establishment of the Union of European Federalists . In the following years, these won additional national member associations, such as the Europa-Union Deutschland, founded in 1947 . At the same time, however, other pan-European organizations emerged, some of which represented similar positions, but some also pursued different approaches. In 1947, Coudenhove-Kalergi founded the European Parliamentarians' Union , which tried to win national parliamentarians for the idea of ​​a European federal state. The United Europe Movement , which was founded at the same time by Churchill's son-in-law Duncan Sandys , on the other hand, represented European integration without federal features. In the public debate, the “federalists” parted ways with the “unionists” who were striving for only intergovernmental cooperation between European governments. In 1948 the various pro-European organizations came together to form the European Movement .

Development after the founding of the European Communities

The Schuman Plan , in which the “European Federation” was named as the ultimate goal, and the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952 caused a split among the European federalists: while the constitutionalists continued the rapid adoption of a democratic European constitution strived for, the functionalists accepted the gradual integration through the newly founded supranational institutions, even if these did not yet correspond to the ideal of a federal state and were only limited to the economic sector. In the 1950s, the UEF experienced several spin-offs and renaming. The European federalists finally experienced their first clear setbacks in the 1960s, when French President Charles de Gaulle campaigned against further supranational integration.

The UK's accession to the EC in 1973 made the rapid formation of a European federal state even less likely. The demands of the UEF, reunified in 1973, therefore focused on the direct election of the European Parliament , which took place for the first time in 1979. The federalists hoped that the improved democratic legitimation of the European Parliament would allow it a new attempt at a federal state. In fact, in 1984 Parliament passed a European Constitution drafted by a committee headed by Altiero Spinelli . However, this draft constitution, the last concrete attempt to establish a European federal state, was not adopted by the member states.

In later campaigns, the federalist movements supported the European Economic and Monetary Union, among other things, and supported the plans for an EU constitutional treaty and the Treaty of Lisbon . The functionalist strategy of step-by-step integration largely prevailed. However, individual currents of European federalism, especially in France, also rejected the EU constitutional treaty because it did not correspond to the goal of a European federal state that could be set up quickly.

In his 2012 State of the Union address , Commission President José Manuel Barroso called for a federation of nation states, consciously tying in with federalist demands.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Tension with European effects. In: German Bundestag . German Bundestag, 2011, accessed on April 19, 2018 (quotations taken directly from the document).
  2. Paragraph quoted from: Volker Müller, “In tense constitution” - “Discussion Lammert and Vosskuhle sound out the roles of parliament and the constitutional court in the developing Europe”, in “Das Parlament”, No. 48, p. 11 of November 28, 2011 The idea was already formulated in 2003 in “The Constitutional Debate in the European Union” by Anton Schäfer , pp. 286 ff, 288 (BSA Verlag, Dornbirn 2003): “This structure 'sui generis' is slowly being transformed into a European federal state. This is caused by various internal and external pressures. " ( Online google books )
  3. Joschka Fischer: From Union of States to Federation - Thoughts on the Finality of European Integration. (PDF) Lecture at the Humboldt University in Berlin on May 12, 2000. (PDF) Walter Hallstein Institute for European Constitutional Law, accessed on May 22, 2019 .
  4. European elections 2019 - comparison of positions. (PDF) In: Wahl-O-Mat . Federal Agency for Civic Education , 2019, accessed on May 27, 2019 .
  5. ^ Reuters: Euro crisis: Von der Leyen wants United States of Europe . In: The time . August 27, 2011, ISSN  0044-2070 ( [accessed February 27, 2020]).
  6. ^ Ernst Wolff: In memory of the Frankfurt National Assembly 1848/1849 . In: Legal review . tape 1948 , no. 9 , 1948, ISSN  0022-6920 , doi : 10.1515 / juru.1948.1948.9.235 .
  7. 1946-03-06 speech on the program of the CDU in NWDR :: Konrad Adenauer. Retrieved February 27, 2020 .
  8. CDU: Questions and answers on positions of the CDU. (PDF) Retrieved February 27, 2020 .
  9. ^ Rüttgers calls for "the United States of Europe", FAZ September 18, 2009.
  10. On the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court in its judgment of June 30, 2009 (PDF; 230 kB) Congress decision December 2009.
  11. Flag and symbols of the European movement
  12. ↑ State of the Union address 2012: EU Commission President Barroso calls for a federation of nation states and announces proposals for deepening economic and monetary union. European Commission , September 2012, accessed January 13, 2013 .