Dear members of the Citizens’ Convention,
Thank you for your valuable suggestions for amending Article IV – Organization of the Executive Branch, I am sending you through this Progress Report 19 Article IV, to the amended status of 22 January 2022. Please see the attachment. In the now starting second week, you can make suggestions for further improvement of this Article IV in the Discussion Forum.
In this Progress Report 19 the Board would like to comment briefly on some of the proposals.
An important aspect proved to be the discussion on nation – nationality – citizenship- secular republic. Strictly speaking, this is a subject that belongs to Article I, Clause 1, and its Explanation. It should not be implemented in Article IV. With the help of the insights of the Discussion Forum on Article IV, we have considerably improved Article I on this point. For this reason, this improved Article I is also attached. See not only the bold text of the Article but also in the Explanation.
As an aside, we reiterate that all amended Articles are provisional. This implies that we will further improve articles already discussed if the improvement of subsequent articles gives cause to do so.
2. Not a copy of the US-constitution
Another important aspect is the DF-observation that our Constitution should not be seen as a copy of the American one. It seems right to us to reiterate the relationship between our Constitution and the US-Constitution.
We are engaged in scientific development. Rule 1 of scientific methodology says: look at an existing position and try to improve it with better facts and arguments. We decided to look at the world’s first federal constitution, that of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787; philosophically, constitutionally and institutionally a revolutionary improvement on what existed at that time in the world of constitutional designs of democracy. Not only because of the incorporation of the trias politica, but also and especially because, for the first time, an ingenious system of checks and balances was designed to make the trias politica work in practice.
All attempts since 1800 to federalise Europe have failed. Remarkably, they all have one thing in common: not one attempt has used the first and successful methodology of the Philadelphia Convention as a benchmark. Benchmarking is the term for the process of looking at a successful performance, what one can learn from it, how one can improve it and thus make a better product: a) rule 1 of scientific methodology, b) benchmarking but also c) Karl Poppers ‘trial motivation and error elimination’ are essentially the same: dare to take a position, come up with better facts and arguments and thus obtain a better position. This is FAEF’s guiding motive in setting up the Citizens’ Convention: look at our draft (which was made by Klinkers and Tombeur in 20212-2013 and which was already a considerable improvement on the US constitution at the time) and dare to make further improvements. That is what the Citizens’ Convention is doing. To erase this aspect of our birth certificate as a model – to be improved – by our federal constitution is scientifically indefensible.
We are producing a revolutionary federal constitution that is European in all aspects, enriched by valuable aspects of other constitutions: US, Swiss, Canada, India, German.
3. Adopt the Swiss system of electing presidents and composing/operating the executive branch
Finally, there is the proposal to base the election of the President, the composition of the executive branch and its method of decision-making on the Swiss Constitution. Political disorder currently prevailing in America is wrongly attributed to the US Constitution.
The US Constitution is still solid because of its ingenious system of checks and balances, devised by the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 and subsequently strengthened by the adoption of a few amendments: none of the three powers of the state is permitted to acquire absolute power. As already described, both in our draft federal constitution and in documents such as the Constitutional and Institutional Toolkit for Establishing the Federal United States of Europe, that system of checks and balances prevents the President from developing into an autocrat. That could only happen through the abuse of emergency laws. That is not a constitutional question, but one of legislation. That possible abuse, by the way, was discussed in the run-up to the storming of the Capitol on 6 January but apparently not deemed opportune by Trump. Learning from US history and recent developments, we decided to strengthen separation of powers and to enrich our European Federal Constitution with elements of deliberative democracy and direct democracy. This adds even more control to executive power.
The cause of the current political disorder in the US is the district-oriented electoral system, which leads to a two-party system (known in science as a ‘spoil system’) with as a pathological side-effect the use of Gerrymandering, a tool of a dominant political party to revise district boundaries in favour of a good electoral result for that party. We corrected this with Article II of our Constitution.
Adoption of the Swiss model for the composition and functioning of the executive cannot be adopted also for other reasons. The Swiss model of three alternating presidents, composition of the government based on the dominance of a limited number of political parties, decision making based on consensus (=unanimity), with finally – if this does not lead to a decision – decisions based on majority, works in small Switzerland, but is an impossible formula for a future European Federation of up to 400 million people extending from Ireland to Cyprus, from Scandinavia to Portugal.
Three alternating presidents would also be a kind of continuation of the current situation in the EU: a president of the parliament, a president of the alternating EU presidency, a president of the European Commission and a president of the European Council. No president of the European Union. It makes the EU into a laughingstock. The President of the European Federal Union must be able to act geopolitically on the same level as the colleagues in the US, Canada, Australia, China, Russia.
Based on these considerations, the Board cannot adopt the proposal to base the election of the President of the European Federal Union, the composition of the executive branch and its decision-making method on the Swiss constitution. At the same time, we look forward to receiving amendment proposals to strengthen as much as possible separation of powers and check and balance system.
On behalf of the board,