Policy Risks to the United Future of Europe
Daniel Hinšt, Centre for Public Policy and Economic Analysis, research article for 4liberty.eu (Review 16)
European integration has been the cornerstone of building and strengthening liberal democracies within the transatlantic world and allied countries. The European Union (EU) and NATO, together with the Anglo-Saxon countries and allies, represent the institutional architecture of liberal international order. However, freedom and democracy are facing policy risks that affect European integration, mostly due to rising populist disinformation as well as Russian aggressive policy.
Protecting the security, freedom, and democracy of the European future and NATO-led global order requires building a strong European central intelligence agency in addition to the existing national security systems. Considerations about a new institutional architecture of Europe open up ideas for building the United States of Europe – fashioned after the United States of America, originally founded on the classical liberal and federalist ideas, as A New Order of the Ages. In line with that, building a renewed and potentially federal future of Europe in more liberty, equality, and fraternity shall be taken into consideration.
Policy Risks to the United Future of Europe – key takeaways from the article
The Need for Basic Institutions: In order to move toward a federal structure, the EU would need to build basic institutions – such as intelligence and armed forces. Let us, therefore, examine the initiatives and options for creating a European central intelligence agency, to support the existing Common Foreign and Security policy within the NATO framework.
The United States of Europe: Originally, the notions and heritage mostly associated with the Enlightenment had a major political influence on both the American founding and European integration. There were important actors behind this European idea, including notable and prominent Freemasons – such as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Richard Coundenhove-Kalergi, and Winston Churchill. Former European parliamentary liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt fosters the idea of the United States of Europe as a federation, but not a superstate. Verhofstadt’s book Europe’s Last Chance (2017) advocates a fully-fledged federal Union.
The Federalist Dilemma: Although federalism is usually perceived as a progressive attempt to increase the size of the central government and its bureaucracy, the federalist idea should not be exclusively mixed with such perceptions. Therefore, a potential federalist option for Europe should rather be the classical American version adopted into the European context.
Forgotten Importance of Civic Education: Thomas G. West’s book illustrates that a functioning democratic government and open society require a comprehensive public policy and political culture based on strong civic virtues and high social trust. Furthermore, the role of public education for civic life and democracy is crucial.
European Values and Political Dilemmas: Centralization and uniformity are certainly not European values, but differences in opinions and thoughts within the civilized and constructive framework. United Europe cannot afford exclusivist political ideologies and populism, whether it is backward clerical or fundamentalist agenda on the socially conservative side or progressive-leftist attempts to impose a cancel culture, radical intersectionality, and undermining essential traditions. Therefore, actors on both sides of the political spectrum should strive toward moderation.
The Framework for Potential Federal EU Reform: Considering the basic functions of the government and the current institutional context of the European Union, there should be a joint security system, including armed forces and the central intelligence agency. In addition to this, the EU already has the institutional framework shared with its member states to protect fundamental market freedoms and competition, as well as a foreign trade policy.
Building the European CIA: A united Europe needs a strong institutional framework at least in its bare minimum – and that is security. The EU has been facing a rising risk of Russian and Chinese authoritarian influence supported with disinformation against its member states. Terrorist threats should also be taken into account as well as Russian aggressive policy. These core reasons pose sufficiently big challenges that require a joint intelligence community and a dedicated central agency, in addition to the existing national agencies.
Key Policy Risks to the European Integration: Detection and countering populist disinformation can strengthen the resilience of institutions, develop the civil society sector, and increase market opportunities for private intelligence services, researchers, policy analysts, digital marketers, and other actors. Despite the increasing domination of artificial intelligence, human intelligence will strengthen its competitiveness with regard to critical thinking, fact-based public policy process, and civic virtues. Without significant effort in this area, it will be extremely difficult to expect a further European integration process, since obstacles and resistances will be even larger.
Building the United States of Europe would not be an easy feat, despite the popularity of the idea that goes back to the U.S. Founding Fathers.
Europeans still fear that federalism will undermine national identities and increase centralized bureaucracy. Contrary to these misconceptions, federalism can support a more efficient and limited government, as well as strong national and other identities together with a common European identity.
European identity requires a political culture based on strong civic virtues, civic education for democracy, and high social trust, as the U.S. federalist experience testifies.
In order to move toward federalism, the EU would need basic security institutions – starting with the central intelligence agency. This is especially important due to a rising risk of Russian and Chinese authoritarian influences, Russian aggressive policy and terrorist threats.
Previous relevant article for 4liberty.eu: Populist Conspiracy Narratives and Other Forms of Disinformation in Croatia
All CEA articles by Daniel Hinšt