Yaer XXXII, 1990, Number 1 - Page 30


 

REFLECTIONS ON THE EUROPEAN COMMON HOME
  
 
 
The post-war period is finally over. The international order, which governed the world from the end of the Second World War, is undergoing an irreversible decline: a new era has begun in world politics, in which co-operation replaces antagonism and disarmament is taking the place of the arms race. And all this is due to the new Soviet strategic thinking, which has been at least partly accepted by the United States government. This new tendency has not been brought about by good will alone, but above all by necessity. The United States and the Soviet Union cannot continue to bear the cost of the arms race and military confrontation. The basis of this new tendency is the contradiction between the national dimensions of political power and the internationalization of the productive process.
On the one hand, interdependence reflects objective needs, which are vital for the survival of mankind: safety from the threat of nuclear war, protection of the environment, and the overcoming of the Third World’s underdevelopment. These global problems require a high level of cooperation in specific areas to solve common problems.
On the other hand, the sovereign state has become incapable of solving problems with an international dimension on its own. In consequence, countries are forced to co-operate. “Unite or perish”, said Aristide Briand in the period between the two wars, referring to the European nation-states. This saying is now applicable to the superpowers. The crisis of the sovereign state is, essentially, the root of the process of detente and co-operation, and is a preliminary to world unification.
 
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Europe is the laboratory of this process.
Europe was the battleground of the two World Wars; Europe has the highest concentration of troops and armaments; Europe is the centre of gravity for the USSR-USA’s balance of power. Successful detente between East and West and successful international co-operation in Europe will have universal significance. Here the new model of reciprocal security (based on a non-offensive defence system) ought to show Europe’s ability to transcend the East-West conflict and to allow for the dismantling of the two blocs.
It was on European territory that interdependence and the crisis of the nation-state started off the process of nations uniting from the end of the Second World War on, and here that new institutions were tried out to control this process.
This process however is broader than the confines of the European continent, for it affects every part of the world where the state has not yet reached continental dimensions (Africa, the Arab world, Latin America, etc.). But the European Community is a model, because it has reached the most advanced stage of integration.
At the same time, the process of democratization, which is determining the change of political regime in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, exerts a strong influence on world politics. The contrast between communism and democracy is becoming obsolete, as is the East-West conflict, particularly that between Eastern and Western Europe.
While the prospect of the European Community’s transformation into an economic, monetary and political union is coming closer, a new and broader process of unification is starting. The design for a European Common Home, which includes the United States and the Soviet Union, opens up great new prospects: the possibility of overcoming the division between the two halves of Europe, of dismantling the iron curtain and the military blocs, and of experimenting with a new international order in Europe, based on a co-operative model of international relations.
The participation of the superpowers (and in particular of the United States, which are not a European country, and of the Soviet Union, which is a European and Asiatic power) is essential to a solid foundation for the European Common Home. The fact is that it is on them above all that the demilitarization of East-West relations depends (in other words the transformation of military blocs into political alliances); and this is the starting point for the development of Pan-European co-operation.
It has to be emphasized that disarmament is a precondition for economic co-operation. The analogy with European integration is instructive: the formation of a united economic zone came as a result of the end of military conflict, with American dominance over Western Europe. This means that the European Common Home will be above all the home of common security – the institutionalization of the Helsinki process. This is the reason why Japan is not included in the European Common Home: it is already disarmed, and has thus already satisfied the conditions for joining the new universal system of security. On the other hand, Japan’s participation is indispensable in formulating plans for the creation of a just international economic order.
Economic co-operation, which is necessary to create this new international order, could develop on the basis of the convergence of interests of the superpowers. Co-operation and integration will in the first place affect the EEC and Comecon. But the economies of the Eastern countries are not yet ready to compete on the world market. First, the Comecon has to become a free trading zone and to reform its structures along EEC lines, in order that it may integrate more closely. In a world in which large markets represent an indispensable condition for participation in a new phase of economic development, a national way to perestroika does not exist. The first objective to seek in this direction is establishing trade between Comecon countries at world prices, paid in hard currency. The Prime Minister of the Soviet Union has proposed introducing these new rules starting in 1991.
On the other hand, the EEC, to co-ordinate its own economic relations with Comecon within a global context and to facilitate reform and development in Eastern Europe, has proposed to institute a Bank for Reconstruction and Development. But there is no doubt that the European Monetary Union and the use of the Ecu as a common currency will constitute a decisive factor in favour of opening up the Comecon to the world market and creating the economic conditions for the construction of a European Common Home.
 
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But with the end to the old international order conceived at Yalta there lurks a serious danger: the rebirth of nationalism.
As always happens in the transition from an old to a new political order, there are forces that want the wheel of history to turn back. The forces of nationalism are once more raising their head; they are at work everywhere, trying to exploit the space opened up by détente.
The Cold War and the antagonism between the east and west blocs represented a factor of cohesion between the alliances and between countries which no longer exists today. There is an analogy between the current situation and the period of the First World War, when multinational empires disintegrated and Europe fell into nationalistic anarchy. Today the most serious danger is represented by the break-up of the Warsaw Pact and of the multinational states, such as the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia. The victory of nationalism would bring Europe once more into chaos – once more the old continent would be engulfed in bloody tragedy.
The epicentre of this potential earthquake is in Germany. The world watched and rejoiced as the Berlin Wall crumbled, but at the same time it follows with anxiety the dramatic evolution of events in this country and listens with troubled mind to the evermore numerous chorus of voices evoking the ghost of an inevitable German reunification. The problem is on the agenda and a solution cannot be postponed, for the new settlement of Germany is the keystone to the new world order which is arising in Europe. And this means that the question of Germany’s size and power, which upset the European balance of power and produced two world wars, once more comes to the fore.
The creation of a large and powerful country at the centre of Europe could give West Germany the illusion of independence, which until now it has sought in European integration. A unified Germany could become an alternative to European unity.
If the principle of fusing the state with the nation is to prevail over the principle of multinational organization of countries and federalism, the unification of the two Germanies will be only the starting point of much broader claims over borders, which are destined to radically alter the map of Europe. In fact, in West Germany there have been ever more insistent calls for reintegration of the territories east of the Oder-Neisse line, which belong to Poland.
If nationalism prevails, we can be sure that other territorial claims will follow. Indeed, there are German communities in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Switzerland, France, Belgium, even in the Soviet Union, and an entire sovereign state, Austria, belongs to the “German nation”.
All this would lead to the disintegration of Europe. This threat would also affect the European Community: on the one hand, the weakened American dominance has not yet been replaced by a cohesion within the European Community strong enough to extirpate nationalism forever, while on the other hand, European unification is (and has always been conceived as such, from the very beginning) the only alternative to German militarism and nationalism.
The solution to the problem of German reunification does not lie in the fusion of the two Germanies and in the creation of a German nation-state.
For the moment inter-German relations can be regulated by the
proposed “contractual community”, in other words the peaceful co-existence of two Gennanies, bound by a confederal link in the economic
and monetary field, which could allow for the maintenance of present
borders and the respective alliances in the context of the construction of the European Common Home.
Naturally all this does not eliminate the question of the definitive structure of German reunification. If the past is to be overcome, however, priority must be given to European unification. The European Council of Heads of State and Government, which took place in Strasbourg 8th-10th December 1989, defined the reference framework for the process of German reunification: the European Community and the European Conference on Security and Co-operation. In the context of these two processes, German reunification will not be the result of dividing and setting countries up against one another, but the fruit of a process of integration and pacification.
Relations between the two Germanies could even become a model and stimulus for the entire process of rapprochement and integration between the two Europes. If in fact in the two Germanies the process of disarmament were to be speeded up and an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign troops were to be reached quickly, the conditions would be created for starting the process of economic integration, which would be facilitated by the fact that the GDR is already almost the thirteenth member of the EEC. With this in mind, Berlin, which was the symbol of the division of Europe, could become the capital of the European Common Home.
 
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I would now like to examine the limitations of the design for the European Common Home from the federalist point of view.
As regards its institutional structure, the project has a clear confederal nature. In other words, its structure cannot eliminate unequal distribution of power between superpowers and their allies. In a system of independent and sovereign countries there is no room for equality between small and large countries, because it is strength, and not an impartial judge, that determines international relations.
On the contrary, federal institutions represent the only means of achieving liberty and equality between sovereign states, because they allow for legal guarantee of these values. There is no democratic method other than federalism which can create powers both at regional and at world level.
It therefore follows that, however weakened American and Soviet dominance in Europe may be, they can only be definitively overcome by the European Federation. The unification of the German people, without the creation of a German nation-state, can be achieved in the context of the enlargement of the European Federation to include Eastern Europe.
It is true that the Soviet Union, has abandoned the doctrine of limited sovereignty and has supported this decision with the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan. Furthermore it has accepted that a Solidarity leader can become head of government in Poland, on condition that this country’s membership of the Warsaw Pact should remain unquestioned. But it is undeniable that the changes taking place in the Soviet Union have inevitably had an influence on the other socialist countries. The stimulus towards economic and political reform in Eastern Europe comes from the Soviet Union. The opposite is not true, as is illustrated by the fate of the reform plans produced on the periphery of the communist bloc, as in the DDR in 1953, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Poland in 1981. They failed because they met with opposition from the Soviet Union.
 
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The most common objection raised against the proposal for the European Common Home is that this is a proposal to group together the rich countries and exclude the Third World. It is a well-founded objection, as is clearly shown by the danger that aid programmes for Eastern Europe may put limits on Third World aid.
This means that the design for the European Common Home should not be directed against any other country, but should be placed within the context of building world peace through strengthening the United Nations. The aim of the European Common Home should not be that of separating Europe from the world, but of moving towards world unity.
In the first place, we must consider that if Europe (the battlefield of the world wars and the cold war) becomes the site on which peace is built by the practice of trust and co-operation, it will change the course of world history. If the tendency towards co-operation between the USA and USSR prevails over the tendency towards antagonism, the world situation will improve. Russo-American co-operation is preconditional to strengthening the United Nations. And if the UN plays a more important role, its power to prevent war will grow and weaker countries will have better protection of their rights.
On the other hand, North-South co-operation should be substantially improved, if one of the more serious threats to world peace is to be eliminated: the unjust international economic order, which assigns 20 per cent of the wealth produced in the world to 80 per cent of the population. Only by disarmament can an immense quantity of resources become available for aid and development (and for the protection of the environment).
In the second place, if East-West co-operation is a necessary condition for building a peaceful world, it is nevertheless not a sufficient condition. For example, even the first stage of disarmament (which concerns weapons of mass destruction) would be impossible without the agreement of the Third World. In fact the Third World is not prepared to renounce chemical weapons without the simultaneous destruction of all nuclear weapons. This consideration applies equally to all the other worldwide problems, which cannot find a suitable solution within the framework of the European Common Home, without, that is, the participation of the Third World: the formation of a new international economic and monetary order, the protection of the environment, institutional reform of the UN, and so on.
The design for the European Common Home is an imaginative proposal for a new prospect, rather than a precise institutional project. However, it seems to me to contain the central idea for formulating hypotheses on the transition towards world government. Einstein’s formula of a partial world government, which referred to a nucleus of countries strong enough to gradually involve the rest of the world in the unification of the planet, may be linked to the idea of the European Common Home.
On the other hand, the lesson of European integration teaches us that reconciliation between France and Germany (enemies in so many wars) was the starting point for the integration process. The fact is that the Franco-German axis was the driving force in European integration.
Furthermore, European integration began with six countries and now numbers twelve. This means that today not even the whole of Western Europe has been involved in the process. Analogously, Russo-American reconciliation may be conceived of as the starting point for world unification and the Russo-American axis may be its driving force.
 
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I now wish to consider the role of the European Community in building the European Common Home.
The example of the European Community has strongly encouraged the change in Eastern Europe, serving as point of reference and pole of attraction. But strengthening the European Community and transforming it into a European Federation will extend Europe’s international influence. This represents the best help it can give to further the cause of perestroika. A European state could play a mediating role in a global system of states. It will be free from American dominance and become a bridge between East and West. It will not present itself as the antithesis of communism, but as the attempt to reconcile democracy and socialism. It can put a brake on the secessionist tendencies of the Warsaw Pact countries. It will become the living alternative to the nationalist model. It will show that nations can coexist peacefully in a federal context. Finally, it will offer a model for a federal reconstruction of the Soviet Union.
What lesson can be drawn from the revolutionary changes now taking place in Eastern Europe? We must strengthen our efforts to build political unity in Western Europe. The tendency towards disintegration in the Warsaw Pact must be met with the formation of a new political order based on international democracy.
NATO and the EC must not fall into the temptation of drawing political and strategic advantages from the changes taking place in the East, and above all they must firmly reject the idea of drawing Eastern Europe into their own political orbit. This would look like a challenge to the Warsaw Pact, and as such could threaten the whole process of reform in Eastern Europe.
On the contrary, the problem is the convergence of the two Europes. European unification is developing within the framework of many concentric circles. The hard core is composed of the twelve countries of the European Community, which is evolving into an economic, monetary and political union. It is divided between those countries committed to this objective and those against it, such as the United Kingdom. The second circle is composed of the six countries of EFTA, the free trade area with which the EEC is preparing, in view of the 1992 deadline, to renegotiate commercial relations, with the aim of creating a “European economic space”, within which goods, services, capital and people can move freely. It is well-known that some EFTA countries, like Austria and Norway, would like to enter the EEC – a wish that is shared by some non-EFTA countries, such as Turkey.
The third circle is formed by the Council of Europe, which now groups the twenty-three democratic countries of Western Europe, which co-operate in the field of defending human rights, culture and the environment. Today, this organization has a new dynamism: it is tending to promote the development of East-West relations and to open up its own institutions to East European countries which have begun the process of democratization. Some of these (Hungary, Poland and Yugoslavia) have applied to join the Council of Europe, and even the Soviet Union, which already participates as an observer at the consultative Assembly with a delegation of parliamentary representatives, could soon become full members.
The fourth circle is formed by the thirty-five member countries of the European Conference on Security and Co-operation (otherwise known as the Helsinki process), which is to say Eastern and Western Europe, the Soviet Union, the United States and Canada. With the building of a new system of international relations based on mutual trust and designed to promote disarmament, a framework has been created for the development of East-West co-operation and the spread of democracy. This is the framework in which, according to Gorbachev, the division between the two halves of Europe may be overcome in the building of the European Common Home.
The prospective creation of a Federation of Western Europe, and of perestroika in Eastern Europe, show that Europe once more occupies a central position in world politics. Europe may become the starting point for a process of unification which involves the whole world, even though it is now limited to one continent, and for the model of a new world order based on international democracy. In other words, the European Common Home may be seen as the laboratory of world unification.
 
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The objective of the European Common Home does not constitute a secondary aspect of perestroika: on the contrary, it is a crucial element in defining the meaning of this political project.
Building the European Common Home represents the answer to a great historical challenge: to show that it is possible to overcome the rift, formed in Europe by the Russian Revolution, between the system of democratic countries with capitalist economies, and the system of socialist countries.
This process indicates a direction which does not involve negating the differences between the countries of East and West, but moves towards their gradual reduction. The influence which each system has had on the other was evident even from the period in which they lived isolated and divided by tension and hostility: particularly the penetration of elements of socialism into the fabric of Western European society. But today perestroika is without doubt an expression of the need to reform the socialist system on the basis of the principles of democracy and a market economy.
The bipolar logic of the opposing blocs made democracy coincide with capitalism and socialism with Stalinism, made it impossible to reconcile democracy and socialism, and closed the way for any intermediate position.
The project of creating ever closer forms of political co-existence between the two Europes will allow an unprecedented experiment to be carried out: the attempt to achieve the peaceful co-existence of countries with different economic and social systems, without depriving them of their autonomy, on the sole condition that they all have a market economy and democratic institutions.
At the same time, this project will represent a potent stimulus for the renewal of federalism and a challenge to its capacity to face the new problems of the contemporary world: the creation of a new developmental model, based on global and articulated planning, on participatory democracy, on harmony with nature, as an answer not only to the specific problems of each system, such as the crisis of so-called real socialism, or the crisis of western democracy and the welfare state, but also to common problems, such as the building of world peace, the protection of the environment and aid for development.
 
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It is difficult to foresee the course that will be taken by the process of Pan-European integration. Nevertheless, my last reflection will concern this issue.
The more general framework of this process is, as we have seen, the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe. It is probable that the development of the Helsinki process will produce the institution a confederation – necessary to create ever closer political and economic links between Eastern and Western Europe. This result could be reached by the institution, together with the Council of Ministers, of a Parliamentary Assembly, consisting of parliamentary representatives from all Europe, the Soviet Union and North America. Free elections in Eastern Europe make this experiment fully practicable.
On the other hand, because of its interregional dimensions, the European Common Home will be undermined by a double contradiction. In fact it is at the same time too big and too small. I have already shown that it will be too small to manage global problems. Consequently, it will develop a tendency towards world unity. But it will also be too big to become a regional pillar of a world federation. It is more likely that the United States will become a member of a Pan-American federation, including Latin America, while it is foreseeable that Western Europe and Eastern Europe will federate with the Soviet Union.
The institution in the context of which the federative Pan-European process can take shape will be the Council of Europe. I suggest this hypothesis not because I believe in the federal potential of this organization, for in reality it is the weakest of European institutions, but because it is the most suited to starting the process of co-operation. Gorbachev has realized this, as his historic speech made to the Council of Europe on 6th July 1989 proves. After all, did not the integration of Western Europe begin forty years ago within this very organization?
The signing of the European Convention on Human Rights, which constitutes the most important achievement of the Council of Europe, would give the newborn democracies of Eastern Europe an international guarantee. Seen in this light, these countries’ membership of the Council of Europe may be viewed as a means of consolidating democracy in Eastern Europe.
On the other hand, the aim of the European Common Home is a fundamental element in defining perestroika. The fact is that democracy and human rights are not only the common values which allow the countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to unite with Western Europe in a common organization. They are also a political precondition and a first step on the way towards building a Pan-European Federation.
 
Lucio Levi

 

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