Can European Integration Take Place Simultaneously with Federalisation?
The article analyses what is the causal relationship between federalisation, integration process, Europeanisation and overcoming the economic crisis; if federalisation is possible considering the positions the Member States have at the moment, and what choices would correspond to Estonia’s interests. Federalisation can be based only on the agreement of all Member States. All Member States and the European Parliament have to support the changing of fundamental agreements.
The idea of federalisation has many public supporters among the political elite of Estonia because it is seen as an alternative to the possible model of two-speed or multi-speed Europe. In both cases, Estonia would risk being categorised into periphery, with the all the security threats and diminishing of economic advantages that come with it. The possibility of belonging to the core countries that support the active development of the EU and the belief that in the federal union small countries and border countries could represent their interests more effectively are arguments that support federalisation. Proceeding from these arguments, the European policy of the Government of Estonia has supported federalisation.
From the legal aspect, the changing of the EU fundamental agreement in the direction of federalisation requires getting an additional mandate from the Estonian voters at a referendum. The additional mandate is necessary in order to guarantee the long-term legitimacy of the federation to be established, because federalisation would significantly alter the competence of the Riigikogu and the Government in the EU issues. Referendum would also enable a more active public debate on the development and problems of Europe in broader sense.
There have not been enough debates on federalisation in the Estonian media. A number of articles in support of federalisation have been published, but there is a need for substantial and reasoned criticism, and the dialogue between supporters and critics. More attention should be paid to the analysis of possible drawbacks and negative aspects of the reform, and the kind of labelling where the critics of federalisation are portrayed as being against the idea of Europe should be avoided.
Before we expect federalism to solve all main problems of the European economy, we need a convincing analysis and understanding of how it would work in practice. The arguments obtained through the analysis could also help get the support of the Member States and citizens who are sceptical towards federalisation. Such support is at the moment needed for carrying out the reforms.