The powerful leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament told an interviewer that the Brexit debate makes him “optimistic” about the creation of a single European Union (EU) superstate, regardless of the outcome of Britain’s referendum.
Guy Verhofstadt (pictured above), a former Prime Minister of Belgium who is now a senior Member of the European Parliament, has told the EUobserver website he is an “optimistic” European federalist, buoyed in that view by the current Brexit debate.
In the interview he explained how the evolution of the EU into a single superstate is served by the upcoming EU referendum, because it will lead to a new version of the EU treaty and changes in the European architecture regardless of the result. He said:
“The whole discussion and referendum around British membership is an opportunity. Why? Because if it is a No, we need to start negotiations. That’s Article 50 in the Treaty. If it is a Yes, we agreed with Cameron to translate the special status for Britain into the treaty … and he promised not to make obstacles for the deepening of the Union.”
In other words, as the EUobserver puts it, either the British stay in the EU and let the rest of it become a real union, or they leave the politico-trading bloc allowing it to become a real union on its own.
As with so many federalist politicians before him Mr. Verhofstadt correctly diagnoses the EU’s problems — its values, the economy, migration, terrorism, security and geopolitical weakness. However, he then prescribes the medicine other Europeans are now beginning to reject — namely, more Europe by means of deeper integration — saying:
“People are falling back to nationalist and populist recipes, because they see a European Union that does not function, so, automatically, then you believe those who are saying that it is better to go back to the past and to the old nation states of the last century, because that worked.
“The drama and the tragedy of all this is that what we have today is not a union … it is a confederation of nation states that is still based on unanimity rules and that cannot function.
“Europe does not have institutions capable of dealing with today’s challenges. It’s very simple.”
This view is precisely the sort of thing which President of the European Council Donald Tusk warned against recently. As reported by Breitbart London he said total European integration is “simply not possible” and promoting ideals of a united Europe “only leads to the strengthening of Eurosceptic moods.” He added:
“Forcing lyrical and in fact naïve Euro-enthusiastic visions of total integration, regardless of the obvious good will of their proponents, is not a suitable answer to our problems.”
Mr. Verhofstadt appears not to have got that memo, believing that not only is total integration achievable, it is inevitable over time. He told EUobserver it usually takes the EU “10 years of problems” before a solution is found. He cites the European banking union as an example, saying:
“In the beginning Merkel said: ‘No’. But then, in 2011, suddenly there was fear that Spanish banks could fall. So, they said: ‘OK, now we need a banking union. As fast as possible.’ And in two to three years we made a banking union that had been impossible for 10 to 15 years before.”.
A unified response to the migrant crisis involving shared refugee quotas is, Mr. Verhofstaft predicts, the next example of this centralisation.
“It will come,” he said, “the question is how much damage we need before finally saying: ‘Yes, Yes. There’s no other way’.”
Even though the final destination may be set, Mr. Verhofstadt sees German leadership on the continent as key to achieving his vision of a federal European superstate. He concluded:
“Let’s be honest, the union does not exist … and we have to make a fundamental shift to a federal union.
“That is now on the table. We are talking about a separate budget and treasury for the eurozone, a real defence community. We need to make this shift and we need Germany for that.”