Federalism and European Institutional Reform

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This article examines the causes of the disappointing state of affairs after ten years of reform in European institutions, from Maastricht to Nice. This condition could be attributed to the weakening of the role of the notion of federalism, which has ceased to structure the European negotiations, and has become more a topic for academic debate. This withdrawal of the federal cause is related to two errors on the part of its members. First, they thought that the federative effect of the Euro, or the formation of a solid core, would compensate for the rise of intergovernmental action in the European system. Second, they allowed the development of demands for a rigorous division of competence between the Union and its members, which has created a dangerous divorce between German federalism and European federalism. They should now avoid a third error which would be to place their hopes in the qualitative leap that a European constitution would represent. Only a deeper development of the original federal model, which is the base method for the community, will allow the federal notion to re-inspire the European institutional debate. – Summary AFRI-2001