Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Four points and a question for eurosceptics who believe in the advancing EU superstate

This little debate seems to be running on and on – and it’s a fun one, so let’s keep at it. Some very good discussion is still raging away in the comments to my Jean Monnet and EU superstate posts, and Ken’s come back with a new post at EU Realist, at which I’ve just left the following.

(Other eurosceptic types who see the EU as heading towards a superstate: I’d be genuinely intrigued to hear your take to my sincere question – in bold – in the final paragraph. I just don’t get it, and truly want to understand your reasoning on this one – it’s just about the only eurosceptic anti-EU argument that I’ve never understood, even when I was a eurosceptic myself…)

Anyway, on with the argument…

1) I’m not accusing you of being a nutty conspiracy theorist at all (though there are a few of those knocking around the anti-EU camp, you can’t deny it…) – I just genuinely don’t understand how you can think that the EU is still heading down the superstate route after the repeated failures of the last decade.

2) Just because a few hardcore europhiles like Verhofstadt seem to want a superstate, and just because a few people identify some of the recent treaties as being stepping-stones on that path, doesn’t mean that this is what is happening. I could also find a number of quotes from other sources arguing exactly the opposite (quite a few hardcore pro-EU types have referred to the Lisbon Treaty as a step backwards, with a number of europhile superstatists bemoaning the lack of progress and entrenchment of national power, among other complaints).

3) You [Ken] quote the preamble to the Lisbon Treaty as an example of how we’re heading to a superstate. You do realise that the Lisbon Treaty hasn’t come into force yet, right? And not just because of the Irish referendum result – there’s also the challenge in the German constitutional court. Lisbon itself is a prime example of the lack of progress of those EU types in favour of a superstate – it’s the (in my view) failed bodged compromise rehash of the failed and unpopular Constitution, which was itself necessary thanks to the failure of the bodged compromise that was the Treaty of Nice – Lisbon is still trying to fix the same problems that Nice was attempting to solve when its descussions kicked off in the late 1990s. That’s a good ten years or more of stalemate. Hardly the stuff of an advancing superstate, surely?

4) There’s also the question of interpretation of terminology. You seem to see “federal” as being the same as “superstate” (a common assumption among British eurosceptics in particular). “Federal”, however, can mean any number of things; key to the idea, however, is the *lack* of overwhelming central control – precisely the opposite of the superstate bogeyman. You also identify “integration” and “co-operation” with being steps on a path to such a superstate – as I’ve said, I accept that that is a possibility, but I see it as being highly unlikely. Even if Lisbon DOES come into force, national vetoes will remain in pretty much every substantive area – as long as less enthusiastic countries like Britain, Denmark, the Czech Republic (and increasing numbers of eastern European member states) remain part of the EU, their vetoes ensure that a superstate remains an impossibility, no matter how many europhile superstatists there may be in other member states.

So come on: rather than pick a few quotes from individuals with limited influence while (seemingly deliberately) misinterpreting what I’m actually arguing, please just answer me this one, simple question – how can you look at the failure of every attempted EU treaty since the late 1990s and say that we’re marching down the path towards a superstate? I simply don’t get it. There has been no significant progress in European integration (that I can see) since Maastricht – and that was 17 years ago.