United States of Europe - Prospects For Closer Union

Prospects For Closer Union

The member states of the European Union do have many common policies within the European Union (EU) and on behalf of the EU that are sometimes suggestive of a single state. It has a common executive (the European Commission), a single High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, a common European Security and Defence Policy, a supreme court (European Court of Justice – but only in matters of European Union law), a peacekeeping force (Eurofor), and an intergovernmental research organisation (the EIROforum with members like CERN). The euro is often referred to as the "single European currency", which has been officially adopted by seventeen EU countries while seven other member countries of the European Union have linked their currencies to the euro in ERM II. In addition a number of European territories outside the EU have adopted the euro unofficially such as Montenegro, the Republic of Kosovo and Andorra.

The EU, however, does not have a single constitution, a single government, a single foreign policy set by that government, a single taxation system contributing to a single exchequer, or a single military. There is no such thing as a single European justice system, let alone a European prosecutor who could enforce European Union law in European trial courts independent of the courts of individual member states.

Several pan-European institutions exist separate from the EU. The European Space Agency counts almost all the EU member nations in its membership, but it is independent of the EU and its membership includes nations that are not EU members, notably Switzerland and Norway. The European Court of Human Rights (not to be confused with the European Court of Justice) is also independent of the Union. It is an element of the Council of Europe which, like ESA, counts EU members and non-members alike in its membership.

At present, the European Union is a free association of sovereign states designed to further their shared aims. Other than the vague aim of "ever closer union" in the Solemn Declaration on European Union, the Union (meaning its member governments) has no current policy to create either a federation or a confederation. However, in the past, Jean Monnet, a person associated with the EU and its predecessor the European Economic Community did make such proposals. A wide range of other terms are in use, to describe the possible future political structure of Europe as a whole, and/or the EU. Some of them, such as United Europe, are used often, and in such varied contexts, but they have no definite constitutional status.

In the USA, the concept enters serious discussions of whether a unified Europe is feasible and what impact increased European unity would have on the United States of America's relative political and economic power. Glyn Morgan, a Harvard University associate professor of government and social studies, uses it unapologetically in the title of his book The Idea of a European Superstate: Public Justification and European Integration. While Morgan's text focuses on the security implications of a unified Europe, a number of other recent texts focus on the economic implications of such an entity. Important recent texts here include T.R. Reid's The United States of Europe and Jeremy Rifkin's The European Dream. Neither the National Review nor the Chronicle of Higher Education doubt the appropriateness of the term in their reviews.

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