Fischer makes a plea for a federal conception of Europe. The general premise is that Europe has already transcended the international, or intergovernmental, stage of integration, and that it increasingly resembles a federation. The Rubicon of European integration was passed with Monetary Integration (he refers to the famous third stage, during which national currencies were to be replaced by the euro). This quite neo-functionalist idea seems to be shared by many publicists in France.10 It is worth quoting Fischer's statement: `Tension has emerged between the communitarisation of economies and currencies on the one hand, and the lack of political and democratic structures on the other.'11
This reality of an increasingly integrated Europe is yet to be translated into adequate mechanisms of citizen representation and of decision-making. This décalage makes it necessary to move forward to explicit political integration, namely, to a European federation. The slow process of integration, based on the idea that one small step now will allow several small steps later on, is no longer useful. Gradual integration without worrying about the picture of the polity that is being forged (the so-called Monnet method) is precisely at the root of present troubles. This implies two things at the very least. First, direct mechanisms of representation of citizens. This requires the familiar transformation of the European Parliament into something closer to a fully-blown legislative organ, and further from the less usual claim of the direct election by the people of the head of the European executive.12 Second, a complete overhaul of the decision-making process. We need a new (and proper) constitution, with full-blooded legislative and executive powers. It has just been said that he puts forward a new model of Parliament (with two chambers, one for direct citizens representation, the other for regional representation) and a new model of the Commission, as a real executive, with its head receiving a direct mandate from the people.
10 One can just recall the catchy formulation of former President D'Estaing: `We wanted the European Central Bank to be an independent body, not an orphan.' See his speech before the French National Assemble on 9 May 2000.
11 This is completely in line with the feeling of both Chirac and Ciampi. It must be said that it was `in the air' during the 9 May 2000 session at the French National Assembly, where a very interesting debate on the priorities of the French Presidency took place.
12 Fischer refined his views on 6 July 2000 before the Constitutional Committee of the European Parliament:. For the full published text of this refinement, refer to http://wwwdb.eurparl.eu.int/ep/owa/pcalag.oj?ipid=0&imm=7874&ilg=EN&iorig=committes.