Progress Report 9 – The status of the amendment of Article I
With this Progress Report, FAEF’s Board reflects the status of the process of improving Article I – The Federation and the Bill of Rights. The input of the 55+ Group for the improvement of the Preamble and now of Article I motivates FAEF’s Board to write this – and subsequent – Progress Reports as parts of a chronicle that depicts the genesis process of our federal constitution. A chronicle that can later be a source of study and experience for others: substantive where it concerns the federal state formation of Europe; practical where it concerns the way in which a complicated process of change takes place. Such a chronicle, reflecting the work of the 55+ Group, is also meant to be a good complement to the European Federalist Papers (from which the draft federal constitution was derived) that Herbert Tombeur and Leo Klinkers wrote between August 2012 and May 2013.
Our way of working
On behalf of the FAEF Board I may report that we are satisfied indeed to see the process of improving our draft federal constitution. We are operating on the basis of applied science and moral courage to offer an alternative to the dysfunctional European Union by overcoming its democratic deficit. We do this by demonstrating facts and arguments why this European Union must make way for a federal Europe. We do not seek to reform the Union because its ingrained systemic flaws will turn any attempt to fix systemic flaws into more systemic flaws. Our aim is to establish a democratic federal state with a federal constitution of, by and for the people of Europe. As is usual with such organisational changes, existing EU institutions, procedures and functions/jobs will be taken over to the extent that they fit into a democratic system of a normal – transnationally elected – parliament, a normal government, and a normal judiciary. A system that no longer takes the national interests of the Member States as its starting point in terms of policy and organisation, but a deep-seated awareness of and concern for the common interests of Europe as a whole.
Well, we see moral courage in the way members of the Group 55+ put forward daring proposals for improvement. And we see it in the quality of those proposals, exactly what law no. 1 of scientific methodology prescribes: rebutting previously held positions with better ones. Or, as Karl Popper said in the 1930s: “The evolution of knowledge is about trial motivation and error elimination.” We, FAEF’s Board, did the motivated trial by offering a draft of a federal constitution. You, the participants, do the error elimination.
The name of the federation
In his ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Shakespeare says: “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Well, that is true for roses, but probably not for the name of a federal Europe. Not every name is good enough to capture the essence of a new Europe as a federal state. During the online meeting on 29 October 2021, it became clear that there is a need for participants to think carefully about what the name of the federal Europe we want should be.
We began our process of improving the constitution with the name ‘United States of Europe’. Proposals for another name were immediately forthcoming. It became – for the time being – Federation Europe. During the discussion of Article I, it was suggested that the words ‘European’ and ‘Union’ should return to the name, because these are recognizable words to the citizens of Europe. Thus, the name ‘Federal European Union’ came about. It was then proposed that the word ‘European’ should come first and only then the words ‘Federal Union’. So ‘European Federal Union’. We will stick with this name for the time being. Perhaps there will be better proposals. Only at the end of this process will the Citizens’ Convention decide on the final name.
The flag of the federation
The same emotion applies to the flag of the federation: keep the EU flag. But the question is: should we keep the flag with the current 12 stars as proposed and adopted decades ago by the Council of Europe? Or do we opt for the US model where a star is added every time a new member state joins the European Federal Union? This too remains open until the end of this process.
A short and concise constitution
Some participants argue for a short and concise Constitution and its Explanatory Memorandum. We have every sympathy for this but would like to make the following remarks.
Of course, we strive for the shortest possible constitution with the clearest possible text in the Explanatory Memorandum, but what is essential and important has a higher priority than the length of the text. The most important thing is that, in the interests of the citizens, the text and the explanatory notes to the articles are clear to the judges. One of the shortcomings of the US Constitution is the lack of explanatory notes, which allows party political views to lead to unjust decisions by the Supreme Court. A Court which, due to the dubious electoral system in the US, not infrequently decides on the basis of party political views because the lack of the Explanatory Memorandum makes the so-called teleological approach (= what did the legislator mean) difficult.
Therefore, in addition to this formal aspect of constitutional law, there is an urgent need for staff throughout Europe who will tirelessly explain the meaning of the constitution and its explanatory statement and help citizens to read these texts. We will come back to that in a moment.
It is a characteristic of this kind of process of improving existing texts that the logic of the new text of the explanatory memorandum is not always streamlined. Therefore, at the end of this process, the explanatory statement will be reviewed to make it more readable. Then the English text will also be improved by an expert writer/translator. For the translation into a number of other European languages we will probably need to ask for the support of volunteers in each country, or to pay some professionals if we gain adequate funding.
For the record, we would like to add the following. In the interests of short and concise drafting of articles and their explanatory statement, it is important for those tabling amendments to concentrate on specific wording and to limit the number of general observations. These may be interesting, but they make it difficult to transform them into concrete law-making words.
We also ask that proposals for improvement be placed in the Discussion Forum as much as possible so that any discussion can be followed by everyone.
The Need for Fundraising
For three years, we have been making efforts to raise funds in order to be able to do more and better work with paid staff, for example. To this end, we have approached practically all organisations/foundations that provide grants for this kind of work, as well as all European multinationals with such foundations. Result: zero. We are going to reformulate our efforts by setting up a Fundraising Team, alongside a Communication/Outreach Team and a Team IT that will take care of the technical – IT – aspects of the Ratification Process. The appendix contains the Architecture for that Ratification Process in four slides. Slide 2 shows the three Teams. More on that later.
As just mentioned, the annex under the name ‘Architecture of the ratification process by Europe’s Citizens’ in slide 2 of the Annex contains three teams: Communication/Outreach, IT Technology and Fundraising. For the first two we have a Coordinator. The Fundraising team does not yet have one. Question: who is willing to be the Coordinator of the Team Communication/Outreach?
For each of the three teams, please register as a member of a team. On our website we will set aside a separate space to record the progress of each team.
The task of the Communication/Outreach team is to design and publish simple and well-designed messages to the citizens of Europe about the essence of federal statehood in order to get their attention and understanding of the usefulness and necessity of a federal Europe. Step by step, we must inform Europe’s citizens that a federal constitution of, by and for the citizens is in their interest. And that by ratifying that constitution they are co-owners of that federal Europe.
The IT Team is in charge of designing a system that makes it clear who has the right to participate in that ratification. So, the creation of a list of eligible voters from all EU states and from some non-EU states. Furthermore, that team will design a non-fraudulent system to cast a ratification vote.
The task of the Fundraising team is clear: fundraising, also to make possible the implementation of the strategies, developed by the other two teams.
One official language for the European Federal Union
A member of the Group 55+ has proposed to include in the constitution the goal of one official language – English – for federal Europe. Apart from the fact that for many years there has been a tendency – especially among young people – to use English as the language of communication, we cannot go so far as to make only one language the official one. The Preamble is based on the importance of protecting as much diversity as possible. This also applies to the languages in Europe. Moreover, it is not unusual for a federation – consisting of different peoples – to recognise more than one official language. There are three official languages in Belgium, four in Switzerland and as many as twenty-two in India. So, in this respect we want to continue the current practice of multilingualism within the European Union.
With the strategies Federating the Federalists and Educating the Federalists, we established the Federal Alliance of European Federalists in 2018. We are amazed that after three years, only two federalist movements have signed up as a Member of our federation. And that two organisations – without a formal legal status – opted for Observer status. We do not wish to speculate as to why the many federalist movements do not join a federation of federalist movements as a matter of course. Apparently they consider the existence as a unitary, decentralized movement more important than increasing the degree of organisation together with other movements and pro-European organisations and thus acquiring more strength and influence within a federal context in this striving for a federal Europe. We therefore also fail to understand why such federalist movements do not participate in our Citizens’ Convention and – on the contrary – participate in the EU Conference on the Future of Europe when all the documents of that conference show that it has only one goal: to strengthen the treaty base of the EU.
The status of Article I on 7 October 2021
We always take two weeks to amend an article and then in the third week finish processing the proposals for improvement. Enclosed you will find the status of that improvement. We ask you to post any final proposals in the Discussion Forum before Wednesday 10 November. We will then close the discussion on Article I on Saturday 13 November, after which the discussion on Article II will begin. To be on the safe side, it is conceivable that, when discussing subsequent articles, we may receive new insights on articles that have already been concluded. We will reserve these for a new treatment by the Convention, probably at the end of this process.
Membership of the Group 55+
Until 31 October, it was possible to register as a member of the Group 55+, the group that as co-founders is responsible for improving the constitution. There are now 75 of them. Fourteen members were involved in improving the Preamble, thirteen involved in Article I. We hope others will follow suit when we start improving Article II on 13 November. In the coming week, the Board will finalise the input for Article I and invites everyone to distribute the result of Article I from 13 November.
The fact that the 55+ Group is a closed group of highly motivated participants does not mean that non-members should not have the right to make proposals to the Board to improve the constitution. Any citizen of Europe – and even outside Europe – may do so via firstname.lastname@example.org. The Board will then – if possible in consultation with the Discussion Forum – act according to our endeavour to create the best possible constitution.
On behalf of the Board of FAEF,
Leo Klinkers, President
Mauro Casarotto, Secretary General