A new “F” word that could make the old “F” word more acceptable to all

February 10, 2017

AMO-color-bez textuAssociation for International Affairs (AMO) expert Kryštof Kruliš contributed to a book published by the European Liberal Forum in a chapter called “A new “F” word that could make the old “F” word more acceptable to all”.

If the search for a new “F” word to replace “federalism” were to start in the time following the June referendum in which the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union (EU), it would be a big paradox of the European integration project. John Major’s fight led to the removing of the term “federalism” from the draft text of the Maastricht Treaty and replacing it with the code phrase “ever closer union”. In early 2016 the rest of the EU gave a hard time to another British premier, David Cameron, who was battling for further concessions from the ever closer unionism for Britain.

The concept of federalism is, however, not one to be easily abandoned. Well-functioning, “federal-like” institutions at EU level could be a solution to many existing problems on the continent, such as the protection of external borders of the Schengen area. Some countries perceive the lack of protection as more favourable than the fulfilment of their duties. Similarly, there are many other functions that could be more effectively exercised by a federal system.

For instance, the Czech Republic is notoriously known for its inability to construct crucial highway and railway infrastructure. Being a country in the very centre of the continent, this shortcoming affects all, not just Czech citizens. Due to incomplete infrastructure in the Czech Republic, traveling from Vienna or Linz to Berlin takes significantly longer. In a real federal state, the spinal infrastructure network, including financing and administration of necessary constructions, would be in the competence of a federal agency. As follows, the federal level would be blamed and praised for shortcomings and successes. Many other domains of equal importance would be better coordinated from an EU level. But there are other reasons for not abandoning the concept of federalization.

The book is available online here.

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