There are two visions of European order. The first one is Europe of free nations where no nation can set rules to other nations or to the citizens of other nations. Measures of common interest of European nations can be adopted only upon free will of all concerned parties, i.e. upon intergovernmental treaties. No country can be forced to fulfil the wishes of others.
The other vision is a Federal Europe where some nations can outvote the others, where citizens of some nations can influence the laws imposed to citizens of other nations even if the latter do not wish such laws. Such a federal Europe must have federal courts, federal police, federal prisons and federal army at its disposal in order to enforce its legislation.
Europe of our time is on the borderline between the two models. It is not Europe of sovereign states any more, because the European directives and regulations apply to member states and their citizens even if they do not agree with them. On the other hand, the European Commission, Council, European Parliament and the Court of Justice still miss the real European police and European army. If a EU member state cease to fulfil European legislation, the European bureaucracy would be toothless. This concerns all advocates of political unification who therefore push through further federalization of the EU in order to arm the European bureaucracy with the enforcement bodies.
At first glance it may seem strange why someone can reject the model of voluntary cooperation of sovereign states, and instead of it pushes through a superstate where the interests of some nations are enforced at the expense of others.
There are two motive forces for the federalization of Europe.
The first motive is social engineering (to use the term coined by Friedrich A. Hayek). Many people have big plans in their heads. But only few succeed in realizing them in their own businesses, i.e. through gaining favour from their customers. Those who are not able to do so, go to politics where they can realize their big projects through the government power and with the taxpayer’s money, i.e. with money of those who would not choose their plans voluntarily. The European Union is an opportunity to make experiments of social engineering in big scale.
The second motive is a conviction that a federalized Europe is a better field for pushing through national interests. But unlike the voluntary agreements, such as in business, where interests of all parties are reached in concert through a contract, in politics the interests of one group are reached often at the expense of other groups. For example, the interests of German trade unions to implement German labour laws and taxes in entire Europe (to stop ‘harmful’ tax competition and ‘social dumping’ how they call it) are apparently in contradiction with Poland’s interests to produce competitive goods and thus to have softer regulation and lower taxes. It is evident that in a federation the big states are able to push through their interests more efficiently than small countries.
Now the European Union has grown into a system that produces hundreds of regulations and binding directives every year. They regulate almost everything–from the shape of hens’ cages on farms, to taxes. Member states are obliged to apply this legislation and to enforce it. The EU takes about one hundred billion euros from Europeans’ pockets and redistributes it deliberately on dubious projects.
The European Union is a system where "all are equal, but some are more equal," as the former minister of foreign affairs from a candidate member country put it. As it enables unjust measures in favour of some nations–and at the expense of others, it is a potentially dangerous system generating international conflicts that otherwise would not arise.
If it is a bad system, it must be reformed, or rather resolved. The question is whether it can be done peacefully this time.