What future for federalism?

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What future for federalism?

In the Convention and elsewhere, Europe is once again debating its institutional framework. Gilles Andréani, in his thoughtful essay What future for federalism?, provides a valuable contribution to this debate by analysing the steady rise of ‘intergovernmentalism’ over the last decade. He points out that a Europe of nation-states has too often degenerated into petty squabbles over minor issues. The retreat of the federalist idea has hampered the development of robust European policies in areas such as internal security and foreign affairs. Two of the EU’s biggest problems – its crisis of legitimacy and the deepening divisions between large and small memberstates – have been accentuated by the weakness of the integrationist camp.

Andréani calls upon Europe’s federalists to return from the realm of abstract ideas to the sphere of real policy. He advises them to abandon their hope that the introduction of the euro or the formation of a “hard-core” Europe around Germany and France will come to the rescue of the federalist cause. Andréani concludes that only a reinvigoration of the ‘Community method’ (in which the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers share decision-making) will allow the EU to develop effective policies in an efficient and democratic manner.

Andréani is a senior member of the French court of auditors and a professor in international relations at Paris II University. He has served in the French ministries of defence and foreign affairs since 1986, dealing mostly with international security issues. He has been France’s deputy permanent representative to NATO and director for disarmament, and from 1995-99 he was head of policy planning.

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