Newly founded European Confederalist Society aims to offer a third way between EU centralisation and exit

A new initiative has been started, called the ““European Confederalist Society”. It was launched during the Think Tank Central conference of think tank New Direction in Madrid, last week.

The Manifesto, published on the Confederalist Society’s website, explains that “the “European Confederalist Society” aims to gather academics, writers and those participating to the policy debate that support decentralisation in the European Union, respect for the ability of the EU’s 27 democracies to make their own choices and oppose ever greater transfers of power to the central European Union policy level.”

It specifies:

“Over the years, the European Union has evolved into an entity with aspects of both a Federation and a Confederation with the federal elements being reinforced during successive rounds of treaty change. The European Confederalist Society strives to reform the European Union into something resembling a confederation.”

During the launch, the Director of the European Confederalist Society, Pieter Cleppe, explained:

“In the United States, there’s the Federalist Society, which pushes for decentralisation and against centralist overreach. The European Confederalist Society aims to do the same thing here in Europe, where EU “federalism” has come to mean ever greater centralisation, even if initially, it had a different meaning.

The Society aims to bring those together that support the European Union but think it should be reformed by making sure the EU focuses on its core business of removing barriers to trade within the internal market and between the EU and the rest of the world. In this way, it offers a constructive alternative both to those in favour of further centralising the EU and those supporting an exit, while “EU confederalism” contains more content than the terms “EU realism” or “EU reform”. By means of gatherings and publications, the new Society aims to promote this thinking.”

One of the Patronage Committee Members, Bulgarian Professor Krassen Stanchev, who started the first free market think tank in his country, commented: “As set out in the Manifesto, the right of Member States to defend vital national interests must be upheld and the right of veto accepted whenever national interests are invoked.”

Krassen Stanchev (left) and Pieter Cleppe (right)

Another member of the Patronage Committee is Dutch Economics Professor Lex Hoogduin, who has served as an advisor to the first President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Wim Duisenberg. He stated in response to the launch:

“I was advisor to Wim Duisenberg at the European Monetary Institute and European Central Bank, when the ECB was founded and the euro was introduced. Between 1980 and 2011, I have worked four periods at the Dutch central bank; the last period as executive director, earlier as head of research, head of the monetary and economic policy department and as public finance expert. The past ten to fifteen years, I becamemore and more concerned about the development of the ECB, the Euro and EMU. They have been drifting away from core principles on which they are founded, like the no-bailout clause, the prohibition of monetary financing of governmentdebt and deficits ,therequiredprimary focus on price stabilityby the ECBand the original monetary policy strategyof the ECB.

The EU is on the road to ever further centralisation, at best only paying lipservice to the principle of subsidiarity, further loss of national sovereignty, protectionism (potentially undermining the single market), weak economic growth, periods of economic and financial instability, lack of dynamism and fear for the future. We are losing ground to the United States and Asian countries in particular, like China, India and others.

So far all this is happening without a clear alternative road offered, eleaborated, studied and politically supported. I am referring to an an alternative that acknowledges the desirability, even necessity of cooperation between sovereign countries in Europe for the prosperity and security of their citizens.The lack of such an alternative has already lead to Brexit, which is a hugh loss to co-operation between countries in Europe. It also leads to the continuing in the wrong direction as just pointed out without effective opposition. Therefore, I invite you al l to spread the news of the foundation and existence of the European Confederalist Society and to contribute in whatever form to its work and development.”

Belgian Law Professor Boudewijn Bouckaert is the third member of the Patronage Committee. He has served as the Dean of the law school of the University of Ghent and as the chairperson of the European Master in Law and Economics program. He is the co-editor of the Encyclopedia Of Law And Economics. He has served as a Member of the Flemish Parliament (2009-2014) and as President of Belgian classical liberal think tank Libera.

Please click here to have a look at the website of the European Confederalist Society and its Manifesto.