A democratic constitution for the European Union

Cristina Sampaio – Movimento europeo in Italia (Rome)
As the 23-26 May European elections are coming closer, the European Movement in Italy and the Academic Agora Europe network have listed “ten priorities for a united, democratic and supportive Europe, as an instrument of peace in a globalised world” that will be submitted to parties and candidates.

The authors emphasize that this is a contribution “so that the manifesto of the French President Emmanuel Macron to European citizens will be based on an effective and democratic project, method and agenda”. It also is a response “to the vision of the secretary of the German Christian Democratic Union, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who recently proposed to return to the medieval Europe of nation-states, which is irrelevant in a globalized world”, a “European alternative of democratically governed shared sovereignty to the anarchy of the ‘Sovereignist International’”.
The countries that first promoted and then shared the European process of integration have helped transform the greater part of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace, thanks to the reconciliation between peoples divided by centuries of conflict, to the development of democracy and to the defense of fundamental rights. Thus, the European process of integration has become the only way to govern interdependencies in a globalized world and to offer opportunities otherwise nonexistent within the limited national dimensions.
In order to consolidate and develop the EU’s peace role on a global scale and at the same time strengthen its democratic dimension, the European elections of 23-26 May must be the historic occasion to make the transition to a federal system, the only system that would allow the European citizens to regain full sovereignty, defend their interests and contribute to building a fairer and more just international society.
For these reasons we call for a broad electoral participation and submit to the European parties the following ten priorities for the next European legislature:
We ask the European parties – and the national parties in the Eurozone countries that have agreed to be part of it – to take on a clear commitment in their programs to draw up the Constitution of a future federal community (European Republic) in the new elected Parliament through a pan-European referendum. Thus walking once again down the path first traced in 1984 by the first Parliament with the “Draft Treaty establishing the European Union” (Spinelli Draft).
We emphasize that the European process of integration – born to respond to nationalism, to the disregard for human dignity, to racism, to the horrors of the holocaust and anti-Semitism – is founded for these essential reasons on the values of the rule of law: the supremacy of the law, equality and non-discrimination, pluralism of information, separation of powers, fundamental rights and democratic principles, full respect for equal opportunities. In this spirit it is necessary to remove the obstacles that hinder the respect for these values, to safeguard and enhance cultural diversity within the institutional framework of multilevel governments that characterizes the EU.
We assert the urgent need for a European migration policy in order to guarantee the right of asylum, the reception of asylum seekers, and to respect the dignity of those fleeing conflicts, persecutions and environmental and other disasters. The European migration policy must be accompanied by a European support for inclusion policies; these shall oblige all Member States and commit cities and regions to build solidarity starting from local communities. Cooperation with the African Union and the Arab League should be renewed and strengthened by promoting a real European investment plan in collaboration with the specialized agencies of the United Nations; by managing migratory flows with supranational measures and instruments; by creating humanitarian corridors for asylum seekers and adequate legal immigration channels.
It is necessary to make the EU and its industrial, technological, scientific, agricultural and territorial cohesion policy a model of ecological transformation by making it progressively independent from fossil energies, fully implementing the United Nations objectives for sustainable development and the Paris agreements regarding the fight against climate change, in order to implement the 2030 Agenda. At the same time, we need to tackle the problems of digitalisation and the use of artificial intelligence in the framework of the 4.0 society, which could have devastating effects if not dealt with consciously, especially in terms of new production models and new tax rules.
We demand that external security be ensured with a genuine Single European Foreign policy, that must include a defense strategy, effective European control of arms sales by Member States and concerted action for a mutual, balanced reduction of military and armaments forces in the world; the Single Foreign policy shall be based on a single EU voice in international forums and on majority voting in the Council.
European policies and measures are needed to ensure the internal security of citizens in order to create a European dimension in the fight against transnational organized crime, corruption and terrorism, by laying the foundations of a European criminal law, strengthening the powers of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and creating a common intelligence agency with full respect for the prerogatives of the EP and national parliaments.
There is the urgent need to adopt European policies and measures to overcome the economic and financial tools introduced in the EU since the beginning of the crisis, eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities between generations and regional areas – with particular attention to disadvantaged internal areas whose progress must be fostered, create a European welfare through a European plan and a single European labor market in the context of a social compact, making employment the main focus of the European Union. It is necessary to give full and binding implementation to the principles of the “social pillar” adopted in Gothenburg through regulatory and political instruments, and to create the conditions for a renewed social dialogue as a defining element of economic democracy, and as a tool for defining common frameworks of worker participation in companies’ management.
It is essential for the EMU to have an actual political and economic government and an appropriate budget based on autonomous fiscal capacity through forms of European taxation, mainly affecting CO2 and socially harmful consumption, to overcome the distinction between supranational monetary policy and largely national economic and social policies, to respect the principle that the euro is the currency of the whole EU and to create the political and financial instruments to ensure shared prosperity. In this context, the protection of the single market and of European consumers should be strengthened, renewing and developing a European policy for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, facilitating younger people and women, ensuring the independence of the European antitrust authority and national antitrust authorities. It is also necessary to adapt the implementation of competition rules and state aids, which must be European, to the new realities of the global economy. In this context, a reform of this policy seems necessary to encourage the formation of European industrial champions when appropriate and in strategic sectors.
We call for the adoption of an annual EU budget with a five-year projection, based on autonomous spending and tax collection without increasing the tax burden on European citizens. New European debt policies and instruments are needed to finance the supply of European public goods, long-term, tangible and intangible investments, research and innovation in the European research area, ecological conversion of the economy and sustainable development. Within the framework of the European Fiscal Union, and to fund the European budget, taxation on the profits of digital monopolies and on financial transactions as well as forms of European over the top taxation must be implemented, while, at the same time, fighting tax evasion, tax avoidance and the phenomenon of tax havens.
We call for true federal citizenship as part of a representative and participatory European parliamentary democracy, with a common core of individual and collective rights, strengthened by adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the revised Social Charter of Turin. We call to make the study of European civic education compulsory in schools of all levels, with particular attention devoted to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, to the Treaties and the future European Constitution, thus developing a model of primary and secondary school that values the common identities of European civilization together with language studies. We call for the introduction of the study of essential elements of European law in all university faculties and an effective right to European information by means of radio and television programs for in-depth study and debate on the policies and activities of the European institutions.
Translated from the Italian by Guendalina Caldarini