Above is the cover sheet of a pamphlet from 1923 arguing for political union within Europe written (ironically) by an English civil servant called Sir Arthur Salter. As is readily obvious by the title it proposed a plan of a “United States of Europe” - a plan which Jean Monnet was able to execute into what is now known as the European Union.
Political union has always been its goal and as the copious quotes on the right side of my blog make very clear the EU has never hidden this from view. Thus one reads with a wry smile Bruno Waterfield's article - 90 years later - in the Telegragh which states:
Voters must decide for or against a United States of Europe during EU elections this spring, says vice president of the European Commission
The article continues to quote Viviane Reding:
[she] has called for "a true political union" to be put on the agenda for EU elections this spring.
"We need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a "Senate" of Member States," she said last night.While it's easy to mock Viviane Reding's comments, and they are not new, they make sense when we consider that a new EU treaty is on its way, a point Waterfield fails to make.
"This debate is moving into the decisive phase now. In a little more than four months' time, citizens across Europe will be able to choose the Europe they want to live in," she said.
"There is a lot at stake. The outcome of these elections will shape Europe for the years to come. That is why voting at these elections is crucial.
As Richard North has consistently noted the signs are very much that the next big leap for integration has already been started begining with the federalist Spinelli Group and German think-tank Bertelsmann Stiftung publishing a draft treaty called "A Fundamental Law of the European Union". This is in preparation for a treaty Convention, in line with Article 48 of Lisbon, which is likely to start in the spring of 2015. If so this will blow Cameron's EU "renegotiation" strategy for the UK General Election out of the water.
Spring 2015 allows for the Euro elections process to be completed - after the elections the 2014 European Parliament will have to “elect” the next Commission President. and for the first time, the main European parties are planning to propose candidates for the job.
Here then we see Reding's comments in context. Reding and by extension the EU, are trying to use 2014 to give legitimacy to the next big leap forward in integration by announcing the elections as a chance for citizens to express "a Europe we want to live in". This is democracy EU style.
Our politicians, and certainly our media, have not yet woken to the prospect of the impending EU Treaty, though I guess when they eventually do they will trot out the old line again that we need a "frank, honest and open discussion that we've never really had".