novembre 20

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Citizens’ Convention Progress Report 11

Par Leo Klinkers

novembre 20, 2021


Reinforcing FAEF’s Citizen’s Convention

Phase 2

On 2 October, Phase 1 of our Citizens’ Convention – the 55+ Group – began with the improvement of our draft federal constitution. To our delight, this has been vigorously taken up by participants who can handle constitutional law. 

But there is also much non-legal work to be done. Other members of the Convention could take that up. That is what this Progress Report 11 is for: Phase 2, strengthening the Citizens’ Convention. 

It consists of two parts:

PART A – WHAT UNITES US IN THE CITIZENS’ CONVENTION?

PART B – HOW CAN WE REINFORCE THE STRATEGY OF THE CITIZENS’ CONVENTION?

We invite members to take a close look at this Progress Report 11. 

Within three weeks we will organise another online meeting. This time via the Teams platform. But first we would like to receive reactions to this Progress Report 11 from you by email at citizensconvention@faef.eu. They will then be able to play a role in the online meeting to be organised. Our Secretary General, Mauro Casarotto, will act as moderator for that meeting. 

I express the hope and expectation that reading this report will provide the intended strengthening of our process.

On behalf of the Board of FAEF
Dr. Leo Klinkers
Président

PART A – WHAT UNITES US IN THE CITIZENS’ CONVENTION?

We would like to reiterate what unites us. The Federal Alliance of European Federalists (FAEF) leads a process to change the European system of states. Our motivation is a combination of knowledge, the motivation to draw consequences from that knowledge and to implement those consequences with a methodology that is always based on bottom-up work from society. We explain this below, in simple one-liners.

What is our knowledge? 
We know, among other things, on the basis of scientific studies: 

  • that the creation of the first federal constitution in America between 1787-1789 was the fruit of knowledge of the writings of European philosophers,
  • that the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, with that knowledge, said farewell after only eleven years to the treaty-based, intergovernmental operating system of the ‘Articles of Confederation’ that from the Declaration of Independence in 1776 was supposed to bind the thirteen states (former British colonies), but realised just the opposite: more and more conflicts between those thirteen states, in a hostile, liberation-war-torn environment of the Confederacy, 
  • that the Convention, on its own authority, ignored the mandate to improve the Treaty, being a dysfunctional basis for their unity, decided to design a Constitution from the bottom up, and, by denying the authority of the Confederal Congress, first submitted it for ratification to the people of the thirteen states, 
  • that the people of those thirteen states ratified the Constitution within two years after which, in 1789, the federal state came into effect,
  • that with that federal Constitution, the Convention wrote a document never before produced in the history of the world: a regulation for free peoples of independent states, no longer subject to a ruler, but with a representation of those peoples that took care of their common interests and subjected their powers of decision to an ingenious system of checks and balances such that never one of the three powers – the legislative, executive, and judicial – could dominate the others,
  • that those thirteen states could grow to fifty despite one Civil War between 1861-1865, 
  • that this Civil War was caused by the fact that in the period between the election of Abraham Lincoln as President (1860) and the actual assumption of that office (1861), some Southern states unilaterally left the Federation because they feared that Lincoln, once in office, would abolish slavery,
  • that Lincoln did not fight them because of slavery but because they had unilaterally left the federation in violation of the constitution, which did not give states the right to leave unilaterally,
  • that it wasn’t until 1863 that slavery was abolished,
  • that despite this, the breakaway states returned to the Federation,
  • that despite all the contradictions in America, the federal constitution has weathered every storm, even the efforts of Presidents who wanted to seize absolute power, 
  • that after the American federation, twenty-six other federal states followed suit and that together they now house 42% of the world’s population,
  • that there is a difference between strong federations (classically built from below: centripetal) and weak ones (not classically built from above: centrifugal),
  • that in the course of time, ‘failed federations’ in Africa, Asia and Europe fell prey to oligarchic autocrats because of their weak construction,
  • that since 1800 many attempts have been made to federalize Europe as well, 
  • that political resistance to societal-driven projects for the federalisation of Europe – even led for many years by British federalists – and the nation-state anarchy that has prevailed since the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) with its constant wars, caused these attempts to fail,
  • that after WWI the Treaty of Versailles (1919) made such severe demands on Germany that the seeds were sown for WWII,
  • that the treaty-based League of Nations, linked to the Treaty of Versailles, lacked the power to prevent WWII,
  • that although France (Aristide Briand) and Germany (Gustav Stresemann) tried to federalize in the interbellum period between WWI and WWII, they chose the means of intergovernmental government – i.e., working with a treaty, which caused the federalizing attempt to fail, 
  • that the Ventotene Manifesto (1941-1944) written by Altiero Spinelli – supported by Ernesto Rossi – is the most important federalist document of the 20th century, because Spinelli understood as a political philosopher that the necessary federalization of Europe to end the war-causing nation-state anarchy could only succeed by seeing the method of the Philadelphia Convention (1787) as best practice for the method to be used for a democratic federal Europe, based on a federal constitution ratified by the people,
  • that Spinelli, after WWII, partly under pressure from the Union of European Federalists (UEF) which he himself had founded, abandoned the path of federalization through a federal constitution and gradually exchanged political philosophy for an active role in politics and thus had to reconcile himself with the idea that federalization should take place through a treaty-based approach,
  • that between 1946 and 1950, congresses and plans to create more unity in Europe always opted for the treaty approach,
  • that apparently no one knew – or for reasons of political opportunism ignored – that James Madison and Alexander Hamilton – two of the three authors of the Federalist Papers (1787-1788) – were already demonstrating in their time, with a great insight into principles of systems theory, that using the instrument of ‘treaty’ to create unity between heterogeneous states is the main source of the conflicts that drive these states apart and that only a Constitution of, by and for the people, can create such unity, 
  • that Europe’s treaty-based approach culminated in the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950: a fierce and justified plea for the establishment of a federal Europe, but wrongly opting for a treaty as its legal foundation, an enormous methodological mistake,
  • that it was on the basis of the Schuman approach that the European Coal and Steel Community was founded in 1951, a treaty-based, intergovernmental system for the promotion of a common interest of six Member States, namely, to prevent the usurpation of these raw materials by one state from leading to renewed war on the European continent by controlling the production and trade in coal and steel,
  • that subsequently the treaty-based operating system was supplemented with various treaties, adapted and augmented with member states, in such a way that the European Union now directs the 27 member states from above with binding directives as if they were one state,
  • that as a result, the envisaged European integration is strictly speaking forced assimilation that unnecessarily affects the heterogeneity, sovereignty and cultural identity of the Member States, and is the cause of ever more internal conflicts and a meaningless EU-geopolitical position,
  • that the legal basis of intergovernmental EU cooperation is merely an accumulation of national/nationalistic interests, 
  • that around the year 2000, the realization arose that the cracks in the treaty-based foundation of the intergovernmental operating system threatened the continued existence of the Union,
  • that, with a Convention on the Future of Europe (2001-2003) under the leadership of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, an attempt was made to close these cracks,
  • that the aim of that Convention was to lay a federal foundation for the Union,
  • that the lack of knowledge and experience with classic standards of federal state formation in accordance with the working methods of the Philadelphia Convention led to the Convention of 2001-2003 being dominated by an accumulation of national, regional and private interests at the bottom of the Convention and by a concentrated intergovernmental attitude at the top, with the power to judge the outcome of the Convention according to its own insights – and thus from a treaty perspective,
  • that out of the chaos of that Convention arose not a Phoenix but a Dragon under the name Constitutional Treaty; that is a fantasy because something is either a Constitution or a Treaty, and is therefore, like a pregnant man, a non-existent phenomenon; a way of working that is legitimized with the magic formula when politicians cannot legally place a concoction; then they say: ‘It is an entity sui generis’, thus a self-legitimizing institution, 
  • that the fire-breathing character of this dragon burnt through intergovernmental consultation every reference to the usefulness and necessity of a federal Europe based on a true constitution of, by and for the people,
  • that the Treaty of Lisbon rose from those ashes in 2009, a treaty with such a large number of systemic errors – driven by national interests – that it is leading the EU to its downfall and is thus the worst legal document ever written in the history of Europe;
  • that, 20 years after the failed Convention of 2001-2003, the EU has once again realised that the cracks in the Treaty’s foundations have become more numerous and wider, but that it has not learned anything from everything that has been done wrong since 1800 – and especially since 1945 – to achieve the goal of a united Europe, 
  • that the EU’s lack of learning capacity – after a one-year delay caused by Covid – has led it to launch a new Conference on the Future of Europe in May 2021,
  • that the aim is to repair the systemic errors of the Lisbon Treaty and related treaties by strengthening the treaty system, 
  • that, once again, the absence of elementary knowledge of systems theory will cause this Conference to end in chaos or no decision made, 
  • that a number of European federalist movements, with the doctrinaire stubbornness of a sect, support the persistence of that treaty approach,
  • that since 1946 those movements have assumed that with treaties, and with their repeated adjustments, a constitution for a federal Europe will automatically emerge,
  • that after seventy years of adapting the system of treaties, a federal constitution has still not come into being and therefore the realization has still not dawned that by persisting with working with treaties, a constitution can never come into being,
  • that because of the treaty anarchy of some EU member states that deny the authority of the EU and refuse to comply with treaty obligations, the EU is already in a crisis, partly due to its increasingly weak geopolitical position,
  • that this crisis has not just one but several aspects, such as humanitarian (unable to solve the migration issue), security (unable to guarantee Europe’s own security), economic (unable to base the Eurozone and the Euro on a solid foundation, without monetary financing), sustainable (unable to achieve the climate objectives), health (unable to control a pandemic), 
  • that the EU has therefore slowly but surely entered an identity crisis,
  • that an identity crisis is the final stage before a system collapses because it is no longer able to store more energy from outside to inside than it needs for its survival (entropy),
  • that the EU is an organisation driven by administrators and that administrators – especially those who are not political accountable, such as the unelected European Council – always tend towards oligarchization (Jean-Jacques Rousseau), 
  • that words such as ‘reviewing, reforming or transforming treaties’ have the connotation of ‘adapting something that exists but is not removed and therefore continues to exist’, so that the genetically built-in systemic errors of that which continues to exist continue to erode the system and sooner or later it implodes,
  • that during and after the collapse of a state system, free space is created for autocrats to take over power within the administrative vacuum that is then created,
  • that in the current situation of the European state system, only ‘replacing’ the existing one should apply: (a) the complete removal of the treaty-based EU system, (b) the ratification in its place of a democratic federal constitution of, by and for the people, (c) the acceptance by parliaments of the will of the people, (d) the creation of a European Federal Union that takes over from the former European Union what is useful from a democratic and functional perspective, (e) with the removal of every institution – such as, for example, the European Council – that does not have a constitutionally and thus democratically legitimated basis,
  • that Article 20 of the Treaty on European Union, one of the sub-treaties of the Treaty of Lisbon, gives at least nine EU Member States the right to enter into an enhanced form of cooperation,
  • that there is nothing to prevent this enhanced form of cooperation from taking the form of a federation,
  • that for this reason FAEF holds the view that if a majority of the people of nine member states ratify the federal constitution, the federation will come into effect, either alongside the European Union or as one of the EU member states to increase the size of the federation from there. 

The foregoing points are substantiated in the Constitutional and Institutional Toolkit for Establishing the federal United States of Europe’: https://www.faef.eu/wp-content/uploads/Constitutional-Toolkit.pdf

What is our motivation for drawing consequences from this knowledge?
Our motivation is based on two elements: having knowledge is compulsory and must lead to acting in accordance with that knowledge. Enough books and articles have been written, enough has been discussed at conferences and symposia, the required body of knowledge is known, now it is a matter of acting. Setting an  example is everything. The fact that FAEF is a testimony to this is demonstrated by the fact:

  • that the Federal Alliance of European Federalists (FAEF) with its own Citizens’ Convention by analogy with the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 anticipates the expected administrative vacuum resulting from an inevitable implosion of the European Union,
  • that FAEF, with the timely design of a correct federal constitution of, by and for the people, offers a basis for a federal Europe that can possibly prevent the arrival of autocrats in that administrative vacuum, 
  • that FAEF’s invitation to the people of Europe to become members of a Citizens’ Convention for the purpose of composing a federal constitution to counterbalance the treaty-based EU Conference on the Future of Europe produced, within weeks, more than 55 members to form an analogy with the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, our best practice,
  • that the process of amending the draft federal constitution began successfully on 2 October 2021 and will be concluded by the end of May 2022,
  • that an architecture has now been developed to prepare the people of Europe to be involved in the process of ratifying the federal constitution improved by the Citizens’ Convention.

What does our bottom-up methodology show?
Our methodology shows:

  • that FAEF (a) in formulating the federal constitution of, by and for the people of Europe, and (b) for having it ratified by those people of Europe, follows as far as possible the methodology of the Philadelphia Convention (1787) as best practice, partly in honour of Altiero Spinelli, 
  • that this method of working chooses in principle an approach from below, from the basis of society, and thus (also) works from the spirit of federal Switzerland,
  • that this choice has some important consequences in this sense:
  • that constitutionally the common European interests of the people are paramount, 
  • that, institutionally, the establishing of a federal Europe takes place from the bottom up, according to the centripetal principle; that is the classical building of a federation in which participating countries or regions seek a centre point in the form of a federal authority (e.g. USA, Germany, Switzerland); thus different from the choice of a centrifugal establishing; in that choice one builds a federation from the top down; strictly speaking, that is an implemented form of decentralization; that creates a weaker federation because that approach always retains unitary elements from the top down (e.g. Belgium, India),
  • that, furthermore, the construction of the federation is both symmetrical and asymmetrical; symmetrical in the sense that all the member states constitutionally have the same powers; but it is asymmetrical in the sense that they each have their own constitutional and institutional status; some are decentralized or centralized unitary states, others are already federal states themselves, others have the status of a constitutional monarchy; that remains as it is and so our federal Europe is asymmetrical in that sense. 

PART B – HOW CAN WE REINFORCE THE STRATEGY OF THE CITIZENS’ CONVENTION?

We are playing chess on several boards at once 
The Citizens’ Convention works on several fronts. It is a form of chess on a few chessboards at the same time. That takes a lot of energy. The FAEF board cannot do this alone and invites members of the 55+ group who are not dedicated to amending the constitution to get involved in these other areas. 

The chessboard of the amendment of the constitution
At the time of writing this Progress Report, the Convention has started to amend Article II. So far, an average of fifteen of the seventy-five members of the Convention are committed to this process of improving the draft federal constitution. This appears to be sufficient. It is wrong to say that one should have thousands of participants to make an excellent constitution. It requires professional work. Just like building a safe aircraft. Travelers do not board a plane because they helped build it, but because they trust that it was made by professionals. 

The diversity of professional backgrounds and insights of the current participants actually results in an improved version of the constitution indeed. The board processes amendments on which there is no disagreement, proposes a better version to reconcile contradictions, in a single case justifies that a proposal cannot be accepted and always closes the discussion of an article after three weeks. It should be borne in mind that during the course of the amendment process new amendments may be needed to previous articles. It is not until the end of May 2022 that the Convention decides on a renewed constitution.

The chessboard of the ratification of the constitution
Please check this link to the ‘Architecture of the ratification process by the Europe’s Citizens’

Slide 1 of this Architecture shows the goals, the structure, and the tasks. Slide 2 explains why this process can succeed. This Architecture was previously discussed and improved at a Zoom meeting with several dozen members of the Convention on 29 October 2021.

The FAEF Board cannot implement this Architecture on its own. It is overseeing the whole process of change and of the amending process. But in order to reach the European citizens, inform them about their role in this process, and enable them to actually cast a vote for the ratification of the Constitution, three support Teams have been established. 

A Team Communication/Outreach, with René Graafsma (mail@renegraafsma.nl) as Coordinator, has the task of creating honest and convincing messages for citizens through various media channels, in order to make them realise that a federal Europe must become the new European state system.

A Team IT with Ivan Gil Carretero (ivan.gilcar@gmail.com) as Coordinator is committed to designing a system by which we can identify the citizens – eligible to vote – of Europe, and a system by which these citizens, when casting a vote, can be confident that the vote cannot be tampered with.

A Fundraising Team with Peter Hovens (peter@faef.eu) as ad interim Coordinator tasked with raising funds to meet the costs of this process. We are still looking for a Coordinator for this Team. Please send your reactions to citizensconvention@faef.eu. 

Martina Scaccabarozzi (executive member Communication) is leading the Communication/Outreach Team. Javier Giner (executive member Politics) supervises the Team IT. Peter Hovens (Treasurer) will supervise the Team Fundraising as soon as someone else is willing to become Team Coordinator. Mauro Casarotto (Secretary General) coordinates – and if possible integrates – the activities and output of these three Teams. 

On the Citizens’ Convention Process Teams page of the www.faef.eu, the Team Coordinators will post the planning, actions and progress of their Team. Comments and an offer to participate in one or more Teams can be sent to the email addresses listed above by their names.  

The chessboard of the political environment
The environment of FAEF consists not only of the European citizens, the media channels through which we want to reach the citizens and the technological aspects of the ratification process, but also of the political environment of the EU. FAEF does not maintain contacts with this environment. Our energy is not focused on approaching the political EU-top but on involving the grassroots of society, the citizens, in our work. We do regularly inform the members of the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the European Council about the progress of our work, but nothing more. A few MEPs appear to be following our efforts. We will have to wait and see what that might mean. 

On behalf of our Board, Javier Giner does follow the work of the Conference on the Future of Europe and informs that Conference about our Citizens’ Convention. In view of the signals we are receiving from that environment, it is conceivable that federalist participants in the EU Conference are starting to understand that they are following the wrong path and that, for a federal Europe, they should join FAEF. For the time being, this does not require the establishment of a Team for active intervention in the work of the EU Conference, and for the reception of those who want to transfer to the Citizens’ Convention. However, if members of the Group 55+ feel called to address the significance of our work in a structured way within that EU Conference, the Board will establish a Team for that purpose whose Coordinator will be Javier Giner. Comments should be sent to citizensconvention@faef.eu. 

The chessboard of the world federation
Just as there are several federalist movements in Europe, there are also several movements globally that play a role as world federations. The board maintains regular contact with the President of the Democratic World Federation (DWF), Dr. Roger Kotila. Our relationship with the DWF is based on two things. Just as FAEF is committed to the full exchange of the treaty-based EU for a constitutional federal Europe, the DWF is working towards a constitutional world federation to fully replace the intergovernmental United Nations. Thus, FAEF and DWF are therefore following the same methodology. Secondly, the DWF has already an Earth Constitution. The driving force behind that Earth Constitution is Professor Dr. Glen Martin, who is also a member of our Citizens’ Convention. 

FAEF sees a federal Europe as one of the building blocks on which a world federation can rely, next to and in cooperation with a number of – continental or not – federal states. In this way FAEF wants to position itself as a connecting link between the Europe to be federated and the world to be federated. 

For the time being, the work of maintaining this contact can be handled within the board until the need arises to set up a Team for it. Comments should be sent to citizensconvention@faef.eu.

Leo Klinkers

A propos de l'auteur

Leo Klinkers, PhD, is consultant in public administration, with a background in constitutional law. He worked as consultant for Governments and NGO's in a variety of countries. He is co-author of the European Federalist Papers and author of Sovereignty, Security and Solidarity.

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