• The Manifesto For The Democratization Of Europe
  • Democratizing The European Union With A New Treaty: An Audacious Bet

  • Von Antoine de Cabanes | 24 May 19 | Posted under: Demokratie , Europäische Union , Linke
  • As the European election approaches, it is noteworthy to acknowledge the almost non-existence of the issue of the current institutional design of the EU institutions in the public debate.

    Even though many political parties throughout Europe are mentioning the need for modifying the existing EU treaties in their platform for the upcoming election, the topic of the treaties is not a major polarizing issue in the campaign, neither at a European level nor in the national political fields. Yet, some of the dominant topics on the European political agenda are related to the European integration and its flaws; from the controversy between Brussels and Roma regarding the 2019 Italian budget to the unsolvable puzzle of Brexit,  the impracticable Meseberg declaration (which aimed at reviving and deepening the EU integration process) or Romania Bulgaria and Croatia’s eventual accessions to Schengen area and the Eurozone. Even among the radical left, whose forces were at the frontline of the contestation against the neoliberal and undemocratic nature of EU integration for the last 50 years, the critics of the institutional architecture of the EU seems to have been pushed in the background … Meanwhile, since 2015 and the signature of the third memorandum by the SYRIZA government, there is a very large consensus among the radical left in analysing the current EU’s institutional architecture as a coercive structure which forbids the implementation of any progressive governmental agenda because of the imposition of austerity policies and ordoliberal structural reforms.

    This blind spot in the ongoing debate in the political field shed light by contrast on a project emanating originally from the academic sphere, that is the Manifesto for the Democratization of Europe. This Manifesto was signed by 120 academics and politicians from 16 different EU countries and published last December in the most prominent European newspapers (The Guardian[1], Die Welt, Vanguardia, Le Monde[2]). The Manifesto wishes to promote a new European treaty in order to reorient the European integration towards a more progressive, ecological and left-wing framework[3]. It was released along with an exhaustive proposal of what could be this new treaty[4] and also a draft budget[5], as the new treaty would create a European budget designated to correct the macroeconomic imbalances and improve the economic convergence of EU members States towards a high standards’ social welfare[6]. This proposal ultimately aims at placing this topic on the public agenda and trigger a debate in the political field about the institutional design of the EU, as well as providing the European left with arguments and ideas for promoting an emancipatory stance in such debate. Since its launch in last December, the Manifesto has been signed by more than 116 000 persons which points out the broad reach of this proposal. Therefore, discussing such proposal and reviving the debate around these issues appear as necessary and crucial for the radical left. In this article, we will present and describe this alternative treaty as well as the intellectual and political origins of this approach. We will also try to critically assess this input, both in its programmatic and strategic dimensions.

     

    I The origins of the Manifesto and its political anchorage

    The starting point of this alternative treaty is to be found in the 2017 French presidential election campaign. A group of four French academics published in March 2017 an essay exposing a proposition of democratization of the Eurozone through the adoption of a new intergovernmental treaty[7]. Among the four authors were Thomas Piketty, the famous French economist well known for his best-seller about inequalities in current capitalism[8], along with a public law professor (Stéphanie Henette) and two political scientists specialised in European Studies (Antoine Vauchez and Guillaume Sacriste). Their essay was named “Treaty on the Democratization of the Governance of the Euro Area” and was combining a solid argumentation defending the need for introducing a new treaty instead of trying to revise the current Treaties of the European Union, with a detailed proposition of a new treaty.

    This proposal was endorsed by Benoit Hamon, the candidate of the Parti Socialiste, as the backbone of his European programmatic platform for the presidential election[9]. By adopting this approach for reorienting the EU integration, Hamon’s stance was strongly differentiated from Mélenchon and France Insoumise’s way of addressing the democratic deficit and the ordoliberal coercive orientation of the European integration. France Insoumise’s candidate was promoting a so called “Plan A / Plan B” strategy; the plan A would be an attempt to renegotiate the existing treaties with the others members States meanwhile implementing France Insoumise’s platform and therefore disobeying to the rules of the treaties, notably the budgetary rules included in the Maastricht treaty as well as in the TSCG (Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union). In case of a failure to renegotiate the treaties and find an acceptable compromise, the plan B would be put into effect, which implies the exiting of the EU as well as the eurozone. The competition between Hamon and Mélenchon among the left-wing electorate led to clear victory of Mélenchon in the first round of the presidential election in April 2017. Even though he arrived fourth and as such couldn’t access to the second round of the election, Mélenchon gathered 19.58% of the votes while Hamon got only 6.36% which is the worst result of the social democrats in a presidential election since 1969. The causes of Hamon’s defeat are complex and numerous and as such it would be completely inadequate to consider the European programmatic stance of Hamon as the main cause of his major setback. Indeed, the four promoters of this alternative treaty, usually called the T-DEM (Treaty for the DEMocratization of Europe), were not discouraged and kept working on their proposal by organising academic seminars on specific aspects of their proposal.

    The Manifesto for the Democratization of Europe is the result of this work and it comprises several changes compared with the 2017 original proposition. The 2017 T-DEM was only aiming at the democratization of the Eurozone while the new version is intended for all EU members States. The treaty is also covering more aspects and a proposed budget has been elaborated in order to more concretely depict what could be this more democratized Europe. The support for the Manifesto is mainly coming from the academic sphere: Michel Aglietta, Patrick Boucheron, Christian Chavagneux, Donatella Della Porta, Steffen Lehndorff, Dominique Meda, Thomas Porcher, Boaventura De Sousa Santos and others. But it also includes various left-wing politicians from the Greens, the social democrats and the radical left: Massimo D’Alema, Fabio De Masi, Olivier Faure, Yannick Jadot, Alberto Montero, Axel Schäffer, Boris Vallaud[10]. The political signatories are mainly coming from French social democrats and Greens, despite including one Podemos member of parliament and two Bundestag members (one from the SPD and the other from Die Linke). In addition, Benoit Hamon’s new political movement, Générations, endorsed again the T-DEM by including some of its key aspects in his electoral platform for the forthcoming European elections[11].

     

    II A strategically innovative approach

    The starting point of this proposal is the establishment of a European economic government in order to address the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis and the so-called sovereign debt crisis. In the 2010s, such a government was built through new treaties (TSCG, treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism) and legislative packages (Six Pack and Two Pack), therefore modifying deeply the economic governance of the EU. This new government is almost solely focused on fiscal and budgetary consolidation through the limitation of public deficit and debt levels with austerity policies, and on the implementation of “structural reforms” aiming notably at deregulating labour markets in order to improve competitiveness. In addition, this new governance deepened the democratic crisis of the EU by reinforcing the competences of the Commission with the implementation of the European semester and giving a more prominent role to the Eurogroup which is an informal forum and as such an opaque and non-transparent body. In parallel to this dynamic, there were no significant improvement of parliamentary accountability or democratic control mechanisms of this economic government of the EU. The European Parliament, as well as the national parliaments, only have an advisory role in the government of the euro area and these imbalances are fuelling the democratic crisis of the EU. Hence the two goals of the T-DEM: the necessity to democratise the European economic governance and to reorient the economic policies towards the ecological transition and the struggle against inequalities, by breaking off with austerity policies and implementing fair social measures benefiting to the many and not the few. The sovereign debt crisis, and especially the Greek crisis and the struggle between the SYRIZA government and the EU institutions in the first semester of 2015, teaches us that expecting a revision of the European treaties aiming at introducing these objectives is extremely unlikely in the coming years. Indeed, an overall revision of the treaties requires the unanimity of the EU members States, as each of them has a right to veto in the European Council. The current balance of forces in the European Council points out a very large majority in favour of maintaining and even deepening the ordoliberal consensus.

                The T-DEM’s approach differs from the plan to renegotiate the treaties and derives from the experience of the intergovernmental treaties establishing this European economic government: the TSCG as well as the Treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism were not modifications of the existing Treaties[12] but international treaties initiated by some member States and progressively signed and adopted by other member States. Technically speaking, not all EU member States have adopted the TSCG (Czech Republic has not) while the ESM treaty was signed only by the 19 eurozone member States. The Manifesto’s approach is to circumvent the obstacle of the veto right in the council by proposing an international, intergovernmental treaty, independently of the EU Treaties. The Treaty of Democratization can therefore theoretically be adopted by any subset of member States of the EU, separately from the constraints of an overall revision of the current treaties. The idea is that this Treaty of Democratization can enter into force without the unanimous agreement of all EU members, and consequently only requires a few determined left-wing governments in some specific countries to be adopted and implemented. The article 20 of the proposed treaty stipulates that the treaty shall enter into force when it would be ratified by a number of States representing 70% of the population of the European Union. This limit implies that the contracting States would have enough legitimacy to initiate a regulation of the monetary union and its economic governance. Strategically speaking, the T-DEM brings an innovation which might theoretically solve the deadlock of an overall revision of the treaties due to the current political balance of forces. However, it consequently requires that the four main countries of the Eurozone (France, Spain, Italy and Germany) adopt the treaty, thus generating another form of veto …

     

    III Democratizing the EU through a common budget managed by a new European Assembly

    In order to achieve a democratization of the EU economic government and reorient the European economic policies towards ecological transition and social justice, the T-DEM relies on two main propositions: the creation of a “democratization” budget which would be discussed and voted by a new European Assembly. This budget’s objective would be to finance the development of an environmentally sustainable and socially fair European model. It would aim at reducing the wealth inequalities at a European level (both between countries and within them), establishing European public goods, improving employment levels and increasing the economic convergences of the member States towards a generous and fair social protection at a European level. The Manifesto proposes a budget weighting 4% of the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP), which roughly amounts to 800 billion euros (the current EU budget weights around 1% of the EU’s GDP). This budget would be financed by the creation of four European taxes collected in all the signatories States: a tax on corporate profits, a progressive tax on top estates, a progressive tax on high incomes and a tax on carbon emissions.

    The tax on corporate profits would be a common European tax at an additional rate of 15% of the profits which will be combined with the national tax. A minimal overall rate of taxation of corporate profits, that this the sum of the European and the national tax, would be introduced and equal 37% of profits, thus constraining member States to adopt a minimum tax rate of 22% of the profits. This tax would raise at least1.5% of GDP, and restore a better taxation of profits. The progressive tax on high incomes would consist in introducing additional marginal rates on the current income tax, whose marginal rate is on average around 40% in Europe. A European marginal rate of 10% on the annual incomes above 100 000 euros and of 20% on those above 200 000 euros would therefore set a marginal global rate around 50% and 60% respectively for these two categories, given that the current average marginal rate is around 40%. Such tax could raise around 1% GDP and restore the progressive taxation of the very high incomes. The progressive taxation on high levels of personal wealth will consist of a 1% taxation on net individual estates valued at above one million euros and of a 2% taxation of those above five million euros. These two marginal rates would help the struggle against tax evasions and fraud and raise approximatively 1.1% GDP. Finally, the tax on carbon emission would take the form of a minimum rate of 30 euros on each ton of carbon emitted in the EU. It will provide 0.4% GDP and a harmonisation of the various systems of taxing CO² at the European level which is necessary before eventually increasing the taxation rate in a second phase. These four taxes are tools for better regulating the current deregulated and neoliberal European economy as they will discourage unethical practices, from emitting CO² to the astonishing levels of incomes, profits or personal estates.

    In the proposed budget, the initiators of the Manifesto suggest that half of this budget would be transferred to the contributing States which would dispose freely of these revenues. Even in the eventuality that member States are not using this money for social or ecological purposes, the ways of collecting this money is already presenting redistributive aspects as it equilibrates the tax base in favour of the many. They propose that the rest of the budget could be spent on the financing of academic researches and universities (in order to accelerate innovation, through the expansion of research and development capacities), on the financing of the joint management of migration (for guaranteeing good conditions for the reception of migrants and the distribution of costs between Member States), on a yet to be created public-private European Fund for the ecological transition which will finance sustainable investment projects, and on direct investments towards sustainable forms of growth.

                However, this draft budget is only a suggestion made by the initiators of the Manifesto; the T-DEM stricto sensu only specifies that the democratisation budget has to be financed by own resources that are these four taxes (article 9) and a maximal difference between the total contribution of each country and the total amount of repayment the same country benefits from (direct revenues or investment on its territory)[13]. The core of the proposed treaty is a new institutional configuration aiming at democratising the EU and the EMU (European Monetary Union) through the creation of a new European Assembly. The discussion and vote of the democratization budget, as well as determining the rate and tax base of these four taxes, would be one of the many competences of this new assembly. The Treaty stipulates that the mission of the European Assembly would be to “fight inequalities and guarantee a model of social, fair and equitable development”. This Assembly would be composed of a maximum of 400 members, of whom 80% would be members of national parliaments and 20% would be members of the European Parliament. These 20% would be designated within the European Parliament, also in proportion to the partisan balance of forces inside the EP, in terms of parliamentary groups. The remaining 80% of the members would be designated within the national Parliaments, also in proportion to the political equilibrium inside each parliament. The number of members from each national parliament would be fixed in proportion to the population of the member States, provided that each national parliament has at least one representative in the new Assembly. The idea is to circumvent the opposition of several national Parliaments of the EU to delegating fiscal and budgetary powers to the European level, through the inclusion of national members of parliament into the decision-making process. In addition, in the medium term, it would “Europeanise” much more the national parliamentary elections as a part of the members of national parliaments would sit in a European Assembly in addition to their national mandate.

                The proposed treaty specifies that this Assembly, jointly with the Eurogroup, composes the economic government of the European Union and exercises the legislative function regarding economic issues, as well as the budgetary function. As such, the treaty clarifies the role of the Eurogroup, its ways of functioning and therefore regulate the existence of this informal non-transparent body[14]. The articles 7 and 8 clarifies the budgetary procedure, in which the Assembly has the upper hand over both the Eurogroup and the Commission, this one’s role being restricting to a technical advisory mission. In case of disagreement over the democratization budget proposal, the Assembly has the final word over the Eurogroup. The Assembly will also be legislatively competent regarding matters linked to the ecological transition or the struggle against inequalities, as well as the promotion of a fair social protection system. The legislative initiative would be shared between the Commission, the Eurogroup and the Assembly; however, in the legislative procedure the Assembly will have the last word in the eventuality of disagreement with the Eurogroup.

    The T-DEM also gives a major role to the new Assembly in the control and steering of the economic governance of the EU: the Assembly shall approve the parts of the agenda of the Euro Summit meetings which focus on economic and social policy, and the work program of the Eurogroup. The Assembly would also have to approve the broad economic policy guidelines of the EU, the financial assistance facilities created by the European Stability Mechanism (including the memorandums of understanding), the various steps of the European Semester (including every steps of the excessive deficit procedure). In addition, the T-DEM confers the Assembly with control powers over the other institution of the economic government of the EU (Commission, ECB) and the possibility of beneficiating of the expertise of the Court of Auditor of the European Union as well as the power to set up committee of inquiry and send request for documents to the ECB and the Commission. Moreover, the Assembly has to approve the appointments of almost every prominent position within the EU (presidency of the European Council and of the Council of Ministers, presidency of Eurogroup, members of the Executive Board of the ECB, managing directors of the European Stability Mechanism). Furthermore, the Assembly has to adopt yearly a position on the interpretation made by the ECB of its mandate (price stability objective and the inflation target ensued from this objective) and has to approve the annual report of the ECB on the Single Supervisory Mechanism. Last but not least, the Assembly and the Eurogroup have to determine the precise modalities for pooling member States’ public debt exceeding 60% of their GDP through the issuance of common government bonds.

     

    IV A critical assessment of the T-DEM proposition

    Beside the strategic innovation consisting in proposing a new treaty independently of the existing treaties, the T-DEM provides the radical left and the progressive camp as a whole with two majors inputs. The first one is the programmatic renewal of the political debate and discussions about the EU while the second lies in the ability to partially shape and set the political agenda in preparation for the European election. As the starting point of the T-DEM is conceiving the EU as we want it to be and not focus solely on the improvements that can be made within the boundaries of the existing treaties, the T-DEM’s reopens the door to a collective thinking about an alternative EU and what it could look like. However, this rethinking is not an idealistic approach depicting a utopian progressive EU, as the T-DEM is based on the transformation of the existing institutions. As such, it provides the radical left with the visualisation of a path from the current situation towards a different EU integrating much better social and fiscal justice, the ecological transition and the struggle against inequalities. Indeed, the T-DEM sort of reorients the reflections of the radical left towards imagining the substantial improvements we want to bring to the current institutional configuration instead of solely criticize the present EU situation that is a stalemate, as much economically as politically. Hence the T-DEM as well as the Manifesto bring a touch of freshness and newness to the almost non-existing debate about the EU institutional design in the radical left, that we have to acknowledge.

    In addition, the launch of the Manifesto was intended as a way to shape the political agenda prior to the European election by making the treaties’ issue more salient as well as orienting the public debate about the institutional design of the EU by putting this proposed treaty at the centre of this debate. The renown and academic legitimacy of the academics who signed the Manifesto guaranteed a large echo and diffusion to the T-DEM 2.0 just like the release of the Manifesto in prominent newspapers of the biggest EU member States. Even though the yellow vests movement as well as the never-ending Brexit minimized this impact of the T-DEM on the public agenda, it shall be noted that the proposed treaty and budget contains a large set of propositions of reforms that can be defended independently. Therefore, the T-DEM and the budget constitutes a sort of tool box for pushing some topics in the political agenda and this is exactly what the initiating group of the T-DEM has been since the release of the Manifesto. Firstly, Piketty published a column in Le Monde about the social and ecological inefficiency and even absurdity of the current European fiscal framework, and the need for a radical change of the tax system linked with the democratization of the EU[15]. A second column, signed by a group of academics and some political figures (Olivier Faure, Pierre Laurent, Régis Juanico), defended a tax on transnational companies at a European level in order to fight tax fraud and evasion[16]. Finally, a short essay summarizing the key propositions of the T-DEM has been lately published by its main initiators and some other academics (Anne-Laure Delatte, Lucas Chancel, Manon Bonju)[17], in addition to an extensive interview of Piketty in the French center-left newspaper Libération[18]. The T-DEM is consequently a basis for instilling progressive ideas in the public debate on specific issues, as well as for trying to set up the political agenda during the campaign for the European election.

     

    However, the T-DEM approach presents also some weaknesses and limits, the main one being the lack of attention given to the current balance of forces in Europe. Indeed, if the current treaties cannot be modified, it is legally speaking due to the veto power given to every member States as unanimity is required for modifying the treaties. The T-DEM aims at circumvent this obstacle by setting up an intergovernmental additional treaty and therefore shift the battlefield towards the decision-making process at the national level. But if we look at the current ratios of power in the Member States, the only ones in which the current national governments could eventually be in favour of the content of the T-DEM or at least some parts of it are Greece and maybe Portugal and Spain. In these two countries, the social-democrats governments rely on the support of the radical left (Podemos in Spain and the Bloco de Esquerda & Communist Party in Portugal) for having a majority in Parliament and as such could possibly lean towards the idea of reforming the EU in a progressive way. Nonetheless, the political orientation of both Portuguese and Spanish governments is clearly not as radical as the T-DEM and if it appears probable that they might be interested in some propositions included in the treaty proposal, it is unlikely that they will endorse the whole treaty. Even though the radical left is in government in Greece, the positioning of the SYRIZA government since July 2015 and the signature of the third memorandum is in contradiction with a large part of the T-DEM. In addition, given the article 20 of the T-DEM specifying that the Treaty shall enter into force when ratified by a group of Member States representing 70% of the population of the European Union, it has to be acknowledged that, in the current political configuration, the potential signatories only represent 67 million persons i.e. 13% of the population of the EU. Even within the new framework of the T-DEM, the strategic deadlock remains intractable. Moreover, this demographic threshold makes it mandatory to have on board Italy France Spain and Germany. In the short run, in light of the electoral and ideological situations in these countries, it seems impossible that either Italy or Germany accept voluntarily to sign such a treaty. More generally, most of the measures of the T-DEM are crossing the lines of several governments of member States and not only Germany but also the so-called Hanseatic League[19], the French government of Macron and others. Among these measures, the ones which would certainly be opposed and vetoed by these governments are the creation of Eurobonds, the transformation of the governance of the EMU to the disadvantage of the Commission and the Council as well as the alteration of some key fiscal and budgetary rules (notably the excessive deficit procedure and the European Semester). In fact, the T-DEM strategically innovative dimension is theoretically pioneering but if we put it in perspective with the current balance of political forces within the member States of the Eurozone, the T-DEM is confronted to the same stalemate as the traditional radical left claims for revising the Treaties. The T-DEM and Manifesto are not grounded in the current ideological and political ratios of power, at both national and European level, which are not at all in favour of the left-wing political parties likely to endorse the T-DEM. De facto, the T-DEM is encountering the very same problem it was designed for circumventing, that is the veto power of ordoliberal governments when it comes to changing the institutional architecture of the EMU. As a result, it is not the strategic magic remedy for the current European deadlock. Furthermore, this approach is problematic in the sense that it tries to elaborate a political alternative without having the current balances of forces as its starting point, and as such is flawed by idealism or at least a form of naivety. The conceptual, technical and ideational coherences of the T-DEM proposals contrast greatly with its lack of anchoring in the present situations of the social movements and progressive political parties as well as their struggles.

    The second main limit of the T-DEM lies in the absence of contestation of several major ordoliberal and “austeritarian” aspects of the present Treaties. Indeed, the T-DEM is not questioning the mandate of the ECB and its unique objective of price stability and does not propose any modification of this mandate to include either ecological or social goal (similar to the maximum employment goal which complement price stability goal in constituting the dual mandate of the Federal Reserve of the United States). Furthermore, the delegation of monetary policy to an independent institution remains unchallenged while it is widely acknowledged that the separation of monetary and budgetary policies and its consequential desynchronization result in a suboptimal policy mix. In the past years, the ECB’s unconventional policies in order to stimulate inflation had a positive impact on growth and employment, even though the lack of budgetary stimulus policy (caused by the imposition of austerity through the Stability and Growth Pact and the Fiscal Compact) considerably limited the efficiency of the post-crisis recovery. The T-DEM only confers its new Assembly with more control powers over the ECB which are extremely limited with regard to the foremost importance of monetary policy for implementing a radical transformation of EU policies towards ecological transition, social justice and a reduction of inequalities. In a similar way, the key institutional obstacles for such transformation are not to be removed, only their impact will be limited thanks to the creation of the euro-area Assembly which would have the legal powers necessary for implementing progressive measures. The European semester, the excessive deficit procedure, the so-called fiscal and budgetary discipline created by the Maastricht criteria and reinforced by the Fiscal Compact would have their effects attenuated by the T-DEM but the provisions establishing these mechanisms would remain in place. The central role of the Eurogroup and the Commission regarding economic policy would likewise be slightly modified in order to make room for the Assembly and consequently rebalance the powers within the EMU. However, this alteration of the institutional balance of power between institution and the corrective mechanisms of the austeritarian Eurozone government appears as clearly insufficient in order to radically reorient in the long term the European integration in a progressive way. If we want to initiate a new treaty, we might as well want it to address all the problematic issues and not settle for some adjustments that limits the main flaws. This limited contestation, or at least this lack of global questioning, of every ordoliberal provisions of the current EU architecture is probably a choice made by the T-DEM initiators. They most likely decided to focus their proposition on some central aspects (EU budget, democratisation of EMU governance) in order for the T-DEM to be more easily accepted and discussed widely. Indeed, their proposition emphasises the legal and technical feasibility of the T-DEM as well as the credibility of such a solution instead of addressing exhaustively the institutional roots of the EU ordoliberal austerity and competition policies. The consequence is a less radical political proposition whose scope is limited to rebalance the powers within the EMU in place of radically redistribute the power relations inside the EU as a whole.

     

    Conclusive remarks

    Assessing a political proposition as rich, thoroughly conceived and rigorously developed as the T-DEM is requires to apprehend it for what it is. The T-DEM is obviously not a ready for use and comprehensive strategy that the European radical left parties can implement immediately. Neither is it a far-left electoral platform or an academic critic of all the institutional flaws of the current EU. The T-DEM is a political innovation designed by academics and put in the public debate in order to be discussed, endorsed, criticised, amended, rewritten. In other words, it is food for thought for everyone who considers that reorienting the EU integration towards progressive and ecological goals is an utmost necessity. It provides the left political parties, the unions and the social movements with new ways of thinking the alternatives to the current EMU governance and new angles for addressing the debates linked to the institutional architecture of the EU. It is an ideational proposition which try to imagine what progressives want the European integration to be or become. Finally, it is a sincere attempt to change the current framing of the European election campaign, to try to put polarise the political agenda around the institutional issues and not solely on immigration and security.

    Also, the main radical left parties and unions are missing in this struggle for reviving the public interest for EMU governance matters’, leaving the T-DEM’s initiators kind of alone in this fight. Moreover, the weak political weight of the political parties which endorsed the T-DEM (and notably Hamon’s movement which stagnate around 3% in the opinion polls) is not helping either. Neither is the confusion caused by the fact that Hamon supports Varoufakis’s European Spring movement despite the substantial differences between the T-DEM and Varoufakis’s programmatic platform[20]. However, the T-DEM will not be obsolete after the next European election. Even though the adoption and implementation of the T-DEM in the near future seems pretty unrealistic (almost as the option of a peaceful revision of the Treaties in a progressive way), some of its aspects might eventually be used by the future MEPs in the struggles within and outside the Parliament. Indeed, future MEPs could try to push for more inquiry and control competences for the European Parliament and build their demands from the dispositions of the T-DEM in that regard.

    In the end, the T-DEM also reminds us that the key for radically change the EU lies in the rehabilitation of the intergovernmental level and the circumventing of the currently existing EU institutions. The path towards ending the ordoliberal rule over EU policies begins with national left-wing governments committed to do “whatever it takes” to reorient the course of EU integration and conscious of the necessity to build a radically anti-austerity and progressive front within the European Council. Oddly enough, the T-DEM approach have this in common with some strategic proposition discussed among the radical left which emphasize the need for simultaneously disobeying the treaties (by implementing progressive social and ecological policies) and turning the European council into a battlefield between the defenders of the statu quo and left-wing governments asking for the Treaties to be rewritten. This proposition corresponds to the latest version of France Insoumise’s “plan A / plan B” strategy and its analysis shared by the T-DEM lies in the need for governments ready to engage into a radical power struggle with both the European Institutions and the ordoliberal national governments. The divergence is to be found in the means mobilised for this struggle: the threat of disobeying the Treaties until being kicked out of the EU or the initiation of an alternative EU integration through a new treaty (aside from and against the current ones) by the left-wing governments. Nevertheless, both propositions have in common a pre-condition: radical left parties in power.


    Footnotes:

    [1]https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/09/manifesto-divided-europe-inequality-europeans

    [2]https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/12/09/nous-lancons-aujourd-hui-un-appel-pour-transformer-les-institutions-et-les-politiques-europeennes_5394926_3232.html

    [3]http://tdem.eu/en/manifesto/

    [4]http://tdem.eu/en/treaty/

    [5]http://tdem.eu/en/a-budget-for-europe/

    [6]https://www.socialeurope.eu/manifesto-for-the-democratization-of-europe

    [7]http://www.seuil.com/ouvrage/pour-un-traite-de-democratisation-de-l-europe-stephanie-hennette/9782021372755

    An English translation has been published recently, by the Harvard University Press: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674988088

    [8] Piketty, Thomas, Capital in the Twentieth First Century, Harvard University Press, 2014

    http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674430006

    [9]https://www.benoithamon2017.fr/2017/03/10/pour-une-europe-desirable/

    [10]http://tdem.eu/en/signatories/

    [11]https://www.marianne.net/politique/quel-programme-pour-l-europe-les-reponses-de-benoit-hamon-tete-de-liste-generations

    [12]  the two core treaties being the Treaty on European Union (which originally was the Maastricht Treaty signed in 1992) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (which originally was the Treaty of Rome or Treaty establishing the European Economic Community signed in 1957)

    [13] The T-DEM stipulates that this difference cannot exceed 0.1% of each member State’s GDP; this provision is aiming at circumventing the currently existing strong opposition to any substantial financial transfer between member States of the EU. Such a provision aims at defusing potential critics by reassuring that this democratization budget would not excessively favours some countries at the expenses of others

    [14] Transparency International EU, Vanishing Act: The Eurogroup’s Accountability, February 2019

    https://transparency.eu/eurogroup/

    [15]https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2019/03/10/thomas-piketty-aimer-l-europe-c-est-la-changer_5433971_3232.html

    [16]https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2019/03/11/que-les-multinationales-paient-leurs-impots-la-ou-elles-font-leur-chiffre-d-affaires_5434216_3232.html

    [17]http://www.seuil.com/ouvrage/changer-l-europe-c-est-possible-manon-bouju/9782757879313

    [18]https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2019/05/05/thomas-piketty-l-europe-peut-etre-synonyme-de-justice-sociale_1725166

    [19] This terminology designates a semi informal alliance of eight EU member States (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Sweden) whose governments share similar conservative views about the future of the EMU https://www.economist.com/europe/2018/12/08/northern-member-states-unite-on-euro-zone-reform

    [20] the T-DEM initiators underlined how substantial were these differences in an article in Social Europe

    https://www.socialeurope.eu/democratising-europe


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