A Post-Brexit Itinerary for European Unionists
Paul Bernd Spahn, Professor Emeritus of Goethe University, Frankfurt
The European Union’s philosophy of integration is under severe threat through populist movements and escalating nationalisms. These thrive on social inequities purportedly related to globalization, the financial crisis, and migration. It is also true that the EU has failed to develop visible “own policies” beyond the Single Market that are worth identifying with for the average voter. After all, 93 per cent of her tiny budget is “churned” back to member states with little conspicuous policy impact.
So what does the EU stand for today?
The decision of UK citizens to leave the EU is an expression of this discomfort with globalisation and integration, but has also opened new opportunities for a fundamental review of moribund paradigms. A new president of the United States has rendered the assessment of EU policies even more urgent. Politicians at national and supranational levels are desperately looking for new avenues to resuscitate the successful “peace project Europe” under attack.
The book aims at spurring the discussion on how to strengthen the European Union against the background of existing federal structures, in particular the US Constitution and Bismarck’s Deutsches Reich. The latter was successful in creating federal identities based on two pillars: defence and social policy. A possible transfer of these key functions would also allow thrusting aside timeworn concepts and making a fresh start for policies that have run into dead ends.
The book also looks into supranational tax financing with particular emphasis on VAT, corporate cash-flow tax, and “digital taxation”. It concludes with reviewing the institutional architecture of the EU for coordinating regionally diverse policy interests, in particular in defence, while examining options for strengthening democratic processes at the supranational level.
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