A blueprint for a federal Europe will be produced by the European Commission later this year in a major step forward for further integration.
It should include greater control over economic matters and also ensure that countries observe fundamental and democratic rights, including an independent judiciary.
The elements of this new federation will be debated in the lead-up to the European Parliament elections next year, and pave the way for a new treaty — and a referendum for Ireland — after that.
The size of the change was acknowledged by Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton, who said: “Next autumn, we can start to think how much we would like change and what change.”
German chancellor Angela Merkel has been pushing for a new treaty that would create a federation similar to that of Germany, where each of the lander has control over its tax policy but jointly raises money.
Head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said that, as Europe appeared to shift between integration and fragmentation, “we need to be clear about our political plans”, which was federalism.
It means the opposite of what most people fear, as it is not a superstate but a democratic federation of nation states that tackle common problems and sharing sovereignty that leaves each country better able to control their own destiny, said Mr Barroso.
There was an understandable resistance to the idea, he said, and quoted the song, A Nation Once Again, saying it was only natural that “Ireland, long a province” wanted to be a nation once again — and the same feeling lives in many other countries.
The EU already has a number of federal elements in its institutions, including the European Commission, the parliament, the European Central Bank, and the European Court of Justice, which has primacy over national law. “All have supranational powers which increased over time,” he said.
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