No. 26




About the Federalisation of Europe

19 December 2012


RiTo No. 26, 2012

  • Kristjan Aruoja

    Adviser, Research Department, Chancellery of the Riigikogu

The aim of this short overview of the federalisation of Europe is to provide a brief insight to the most evident legal developments of the European Union (EU) towards deeper integration and the reasons why questions about it have risen.

In the course of economic integration, the EU has reached a level somewhere between an economic union and a political union. It is therefore a union within which the factors of production move freely between the member states and where some policy areas have been harmonised, but which does not yet have a common government. The EU has got there via two main lines of action – by improving the founding treaties and by developing the case-law in a union-friendly way.

Several treaty changes have enhanced the competences of the EU, but since the electorate does not always seem to be truly satisfied with the path the Union has taken, some setbacks, e.g. with the Constitutional Treaty, have occurred. Another, sometimes even more powerful set of guiding principles has come from the Court of Justice of the European Union, which has interpreted the treaties in a practically effective way in order that the EU could take further steps in becoming a true federation.

However, the federalisation has not gone all as smoothly as wished by the so-called elite. When the decision-makers have focussed on the integration of states, they sometimes have forgotten the people who are originally the ones to decide over the future of Europe. The deadlocks in the development of the EU project stem largely from the remote and sometimes even alienated nature of the Union itself. The more the people realise (and it is largely the duty of the governments to explain) how the EU affects their everyday life, the more they will integrate into the EU matters.

The bottom line to bear in mind is that the federalisation of Europe has not evolved overnight, but has rather been a directed project with a clear aim from the beginning. Therefore, understanding the Union and its developments is crucial, and on the basis of the knowledge one acquires, initiative should be taken where necessary.

Full article in Estonian