I am thoroughly aware of the institutional problems with regard to the current EU that such a center of gravity would entail. That is why it would be critical to ensure that the achievements of the EU are not jeopardized, that the union is not divided, and that the bond holding it together is not damaged, either in political or legal terms. Mechanisms would have to be developed to permit the members of the center of gravity to cooperate smoothly with others in the larger EU.
The question of which countries will take part in such a project – the EU founding members, the Euro-11 members, or another group – is impossible to answer today. One thing must be clear when considering the option of forming a center of gravity: this avant-garde must never be exclusive but must be open to all member states and candidate countries, should they desire to participate at a certain point in time. For those who wish to participate but do not fulfill the requirements, there must be a possibility to be drawn in closer. Transparency and the opportunity for all EU member states to participate would be essential factors governing the acceptance and feasibility of the project. This must be true in particular with regard to the candidate countries. For it would be historically absurd and utterly stupid if Europe, at the very time when it is at long last reunited, were to be divided once again.
Such a center of gravity must also have an active interest in enlargement and it must be attractive to the other members. If one follows Hans-Dietrich Genscher’s tenet that no member state can be forced to go farther than it is able or willing to go, but that those who do not want to go farther cannot prevent others from doing so, then the center of gravity will emerge within the treaties. Otherwise it will emerge outside them.
The last step will then be the completion of integration in a European Federation. Let’s not misunderstand each other: closer cooperation does not automatically lead to full integration, either by the center of gravity or straight away by the majority of members. Initially, enhanced cooperation means nothing more than increased intergovernmentalization under pressure from the facts and shortcomings of the “Monnet Method.” The steps towards a constitutional treaty – and exactly that will be the precondition for full integration – require a deliberate political act to reestablish Europe.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is my personal vision for the future: from closer cooperation to a European constitutional treaty and the completion of Robert Schuman’s great idea of a European Federation. This could be the way ahead!
Source of English translation: “From Confederacy to Federation – Thoughts on the Finality of European Integration. Speech by Joschka Fischer at Humboldt University in Berlin, May 12, 2000.” Berlin: Auswärtiges Amt (The Federal Foreign Office). Available on http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/www/de/infoservice/download/pdf/reden/redene/r000512b-r1008e.pdf. Please note: the GHDI staff made slight edits to the Foreign Office translation.
Source of original German speech: “Bundesaußenminister Fischer: Vom Staatenverbund zur Föderation – Gedanken über die Finalität der europäischen Integration,” Bulletin [Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung], Nr. 29 vom 24. Mai 2000, Dokument Nr. 29-1 [CD-ROM-Version].