The “European Confederalist Society” aims to gather academics, writers and those participating to the policy debate that support decentralisation in the European Union, respect for the ability of the EU’s 27 democracies to make their own choices and oppose ever greater transfers of power to the central European Union policy level.
Over the years, the European Union has evolved into an entity with aspects of both a Federation and a Confederation with the federal elements being reinforced during successive rounds of treaty change. The European Confederalist Society strives to reform the European Union into something resembling a confederation.
This manifesto sets out a number of principles, aimed to achieve this:
I. The European Union should be an association of sovereign national democracies working together in shared institutions within a framework of law on specific subjects where such cooperation achieves results that could not be achieved by independent action alone or other forms of collaboration.
II. The institutions of the European Union must therefore be reformed to ensure that the principle of national democracy is upheld. The right of Member States to defend vital national interests must be upheld and the right of veto accepted whenever national interests are invoked. Unanimous decision making must be required as much as possible and at the very minimum for policy areas with significant implications for national sovereignty such as, inter alia, the following:
– foreign and defence policy,
– internal security,
– budgetary contributions,
– migration and border controls.
III. Adherence to the principles of conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality, as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union, must be strictly enforced. All existing policies and EU institutions need to be rigorously assessed against these criteria and, where appropriate, changed or abandoned.
IV. The Member States, meeting in the European Council and Council of Ministers, should set the political and legislative agenda of the European Union.
V. The European Commission should be the servant of the Member States, not their master. Reform is required to the way it operates to ensure that this is achieved. The priorities of the Commission should be those of the Member States and should prioritise the core tasks of removing barriers to trade within the internal market and between the EU and the rest of the world.
To open up trade within the EU, the European Commission should mostly employ mutual recognition of national standards, police state aid and counter national protectionism, away from its incessant attempts to propose more harmonization, ever stricter EU regulations and greater powers for the EU policy level. It should also become more ambitious to negotiate trade deals with third countries, and abandon its attempts to impose EU regulations on those trading partners, given how this is preventing EU citizens from enjoying trade with the rest of the world.
VI. The European Parliament’s efforts to seize control of the European Union by side-lining the Council and capturing the Commission should be opposed. The Parliament should be reformed in keeping with the reality that its democratic legitimacy in the eyes of the peoples of Europe is weak.
VII. The European Court of Justice should be reformed to ensure it exercises judicial restraint. It is essential that changes are made so that it strictly applies Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union, which foresees that “the use of Union competences is governed by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality”, and upholds the principle of national democracy.
The Patronage Committee
The European Confederalist Society is supported by a Patronage Committee, composed of the following prominent academics:
Dutch Economics Professor Lex Hoogduin has served as an advisor to the first President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Wim Duisenberg, and at the executive board of the Dutch Central Bank. He has also taught economics at the University of Groningen and served as chairman of London-based LCH.Clearnet, one of the world’s leading clearing houses.
Bulgarian Professor Krassen Stanchev teaches Macroeconomic Analysis and Public Choice Theory at Sofia University. He is a former Member of the Bulgarian Constitutional Assembly (1990-1991) as well as the founder, former executive director and Chairman of the Institute of Market Economics – Bulgaria’s first independent and free-market think tank.
Belgian Law Professor Boudewijn Bouckaert has served as the Dean of the law school of the University of Ghent and as the chairperson of the European Master in Law and Economics program. He is the co-editor of the Encyclopedia Of Law And Economics. He has served as a Member of the Flemish Parliament (2009-2014) and as President of Belgian classical liberal think tank Libera.