Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Is Europe heading for a super-state?

Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has put forward plans for a radical shake-up of the European Union, including the formation of a European government.

Mr Schroeder's ideas were set out in a draft policy document for a meeting of Germany's governing Social Democratic Party.

The draft suggests turning the European Commission into a European government.

The German press has welcomed the initiative, but in Britain the opposition Conservative Party has called the proposals "damaging" and the Liberal Democrats say they go "too far".

The International Herald Tribune says that in the eyes of some, the proposals lay the foundations for "an eventual United States of Europe."

Do you think such plans would be a step too far? Are we heading for a super-state? Should Europe ever be run by one central government?

HAVE YOUR SAY Chancellor Schroeder's kite flying should be seen as a step in the right direction. At last a major political figure has the courage to stick his head above the parapet and state clearly what European integration is all about. However many difficult and painful reforms need to be faced and enacted alongside this integration to ensure it will work. European integration needs to be set in context, as one of a series of steps taken world-wide toward global integration and a unity-in-diversity world government that can tackle the needs and assure the safety of humankind while asserting and celebrating the diversity of the human race. No uniform Europe or fortress Europe, please.
Andy, UK

This will be at the expense of meaningful democracy

Alex, UK
What is the perceived advantage for the actual citizen in the street? The only people who benefit from these supra-national bodies are civil servants on uber-wages, and international corporations who can expect rationalisation of red tape, as many countries become a "trading bloc". Make no mistake - this will be at the expense of meaningful democracy. You only have to look at the electoral turnout in the USA to see how little people feel in control once your government becomes so remote. Plus our countries will not have a common language to unite the expression of their interests.
Alex, UK

The main problem is that political union is linked to economic union - but large economic blocks will always cause hardship in those areas which are not doing as well as others. The prime example at the moment is the boom in Ireland and slump in Germany - a centralised economic policy creates damage as seen in the USA 'rust belts' and the former Soviet bloc. We need to have closer links but with retained local powers.
Tim H, UK

European political and economic co-operation is a great idea - but why does everything have to become "one". I like the idea that I can escape from dreary England and to go to a culturally different and more interesting place in Europe. We don't need more Eurobananas or Eurotomatoes, and a European government will certainly be more bureaucracy than substance.
Rustam Roy, England

The vast majority of our population does not want to adopt the European currency or be a part of a federal Europe. Whatever the pro-Europeans may like to think, our culture is more similar to the US than to Europe. Our language is virtually the same. Our approach to business was the same before this government opened its red-tape factory. Supporters of European integration hail the US as the target model. The US has a single currency but also a single language and easy mobility. An unemployed person on the West Coast would not regard a job on the East Coast (some 3000 miles away) as an unacceptable option. How many Portuguese bricklayers would move to Norway for a job? The culture and language are totally different. This project is doomed to fail, just as others before it (think USSR, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia etc). Even the mighty US union was only preserved at a cost of 600,000 lives.
John B, UK

Britain no longer is a world power and cannot afford to stand alone.

Iain B, England
The way I see it is, the vast majority of Europe offers the best standards of living and freedom in the world. So why this extreme reaction against closer ties with Europe? Britain no longer is a world power and cannot afford to stand alone.
Iain B, England

In the past, countries in Europe punched far above their weight through their extensive overseas empires. Now that the colonies have gone, if European nations wish to remain world players they have to act as a single unit, especially in areas such as manufacturing, trade and defence where scale is all-important. The best way of acting as a European unit is to have a European government.
Patrick B, England

You've got one half of Europe tearing itself apart on a ethnic basis. Now they want to push the rest of us together! Integration is great - if everyone wants it. We've also got enough of our taxes being spent by autocrats already. This will just turn into the mother of all gravy trains!
James Roberts, UK

Personally, I don't care whether a guy I don't know or want called Tony Blair or a guy I don't know or want called Sven Blair heads the government of the rock I live on, so long as he is fairly reasonable. What I do care about is living on a rock with some muscle behind it, securing the future prosperity and liberty of my offspring. This small part of a tiny island "England" is certainly not that. The incredible short-sightedness of those people opposed for sentimental reasons to our country playing a leading role in a new emerging superpower right on our doorstep is frankly sickening.
Rob Harris, UK

I believe that a U.S.E. is a worthy goal

Tim Smith, UK
I believe that a U.S.E. is a worthy goal and the right way forward for Britain. Europe has been drawing closer together ever since WWII. But Britain must be allowed to proceed along this path at its own pace, not that of others. If it takes another 50 or even 100 years for us to be ready to join a Euro super-state, so be it.
Tim Smith, UK

We only have to look at the United States to see the benefits of a "United States of Europe." While such a move would not solve all our problems overnight, a European government would be able to compete and lead the world in a way that the European Commission never could. Let's stop debating Europe, and start being European. If the European government is coming, then I want my vote sooner rather than later.
David Magee, N. Ireland

Those who compare Europe to the US often forget that the US is one nation, Europe is many.
Andrew Cahill, UK

There is no common culture. There is no common legal philosophy. There is no common language. There is no overwhelming need to federate in the face of any external threat or internal need. Like previous polyglot confederations, a United States of Europe will not work in the long term. Comparisons with the USA are meaningless - at least they shared a common language, threat and cultural heritage. This does not apply to Europe.
Euan Gray, UK

I don't want to be part of it!

Maurice, England
It always has been heading towards a "superstate". The politicians have during every year passed more and more control to the EU. So how come this is such a surprise? NB: I don't want to be part of it!
Maurice, England - I think?

Who cares what the currency is, Pounds or Euros, so long as you can afford a decent quality of life. A United States of Europe seems a very sensible idea - and must surely be inevitable. Why are the British encouraged to be so afraid of a "European Super State"? With France and Germany, we'll be the ones running it. If this could put an end to the little Englander mentality, so much the better.
Nick James, UK

No one claims that the Japanese need to merge their economy with the Chinese, or that the Australians should merge theirs with South Africa. So why should the UK merge with the EU? The UK is the fourth largest economy in the world, we can trade anywhere, with anyone, on our own terms. Why gamble on submerging ourselves in Europe where we are the best-placed economy of all to work with the EU, NAFTA, the emerging markets and China/the Far East as equals?
Guy Hammond, UK

Reform the EU then have a European super-government

Endo, UK
A "super-government" will only work if everybody has the same language and culture. Just being "European" is not enough. The USA only now works because they settled their political differences during the Civil War. Reform the EU then have a European super-government.
Endo, UK

Have you realised that most of the EU laws target the UK the most? Get out of the EU now!
Helen, UK

Schroeder's plans are at least honest, which cannot be said of Blair's evasions on the subject. But being honest does not make the idea acceptable for Britain. The EU has become economically illiterate and politically undemocratic. Insult me with the Little Englander taunts all you like, but I would prefer to be prosperous in a sovereign, democratic nation than a disenfranchised pauper in an unaccountable federalist bureaucracy.
David K, England

Without doubt there will be a super-government. But, who will be the Super Prime Minister? Will it be Blair, Schroeder, a people's peer or Phoenix the calf? I'm sure the Sun newspaper will have an answer to this important question.
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland

I like the idea. I am sure Britain will benefit a lot from such a move.
A. Parks, England

Why is there so much fuss and fear about Gerhard Schröder's vision? The German Chancellor has rightly identified the major problems of the EU - a lack of democratic accountability and a lack of public support for the EU's institutions. Instead of using these criticisms as reasons to stop the integration process as many UK politicians do, Schröder proposes a positive solution we should welcome and have no reason to fear: a federation (NOT a superstate) based upon a strong commitment to democracy.
Jon Worth, UK

The last thing we need is more centralisation of power

Stephen, England
The last thing we need is more centralisation of power. We should be pushing the other way - devolving power as much as possible. Small, local assemblies are best positioned to understand the needs of the people they represent. Large, distant, centralised assemblies are not.
Stephen, England

I am a British citizen living in mainland Europe. I commend the German leader with action for making Europe stronger and signalling a vision! This is all great for the true followers of the European dream and we will follow. It is a pity that Britain is being left behind but that is what they prefer. However, they are certainly in no position to criticise the people who decide to pursue this great dream.
Robin Drinkall, Denmark

Why do we feel so threatened by the thought of partial devolution of power to Europe? The Channel has thrown up mental boundaries that simply don't exist in other European states. Do we really feel that the lifestyle and quality of living in Italy, France, Germany is inferior to that of the UK? And as for Jeff Scholey's comment about giving up the pound. Please let's lose the sentimentality and get perspective. Europe is our natural political and economic partner, not the US as the Tory party would have us think. Please let's go into Europe once and for all, and put the little-Englander mentality to bed.
Kate Lovegrove, UK

The only things stopping a unified Europe are xenophobia and nationalism, neither of which are particularly desirable and both of which have caused pain and suffering for millennia.
T. Pierce, UK

Once again the Government takes us all to be fools

Andrew, England
Once again the Government takes us all to be fools. Warnings have abounded practically since the conception of this ill-founded experiment and now, at last we can see the true colours of our European 'allies'. I wonder how Messrs Blair and Cook are going to wriggle their way out of this one?
Andrew, England

I was under the impression we had been heading that way for some time! Isn't dollarisation being considered the next option for a European currency if the euro fails?
Ian Gomeche, Scotland, UK

It's been done elsewhere, and better.
T.J. Cassidy, USA

The current census will show that the population of the UK does not want to be part of Europe, or get rid of the pound. I could handle the idea of a 'Super Government', one which looks over the individual governments of Europe, but nothing more.
Jeff Scholey, UK

Send us your comments:

Your E-mail Address:



Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

29 Apr 01 | UK Politics
'Euro government' gets cool reception
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Talking Point stories