Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


Neither a Confederation nor a Federal State

There is no point in discussing whether the European Federation ought to be a "confederation" or a "federal state." This only creates an unnecessary polarisation. The EU has always been more than an association of states, or at least since the first direct elections of the European Parliament. On the other hand, given its national states, with their own history, culture, and language, Europe will never be able to develop into a real federal state, even if this may have been the vision of earlier European politicians. Both the vertical allocation of authority and the balance of institutions at the federal level are crucial for the distribution of power between the national governments and Europe. A future European Federation will have to solve two problems: first, it will have to overcome the problem of vertically allotting authority and integrating national states; and second, it will have to create a lasting institutional system at the level of the European legislature.



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