President of Slovenia Borut Pahor wants to create the United States of Europe.
In his World Leaders Forum address Thursday, Pahor said that he has “a very firm vision of the future of Europe,” Pahor said. “It is a vision of the United States of Europe. ... I think I’m the only leader among 28 countries of the EU that would publicly say that he or she is in favor of such a clear idea of the future of Europe.”
After opening his speech on this controversial note, the early-morning crowd in Low Rotunda perked up and engaged with Pahor, who cut his speech short in order to allow for a longer Q-and-A with the audience.
Creating this hypothetical “United States of Europe” would be rife with difficulties of trying to integrate 28 different nations under the same constitution, and, of course, convincing people that this is the right direction for Europe.
“This is the crucial part: how to make Europe successful, efficient, but not to go too much into the sovereign rights of 28 nations,” he said. “I think that people would vote against the new constitutions if there is too much Brussels in the constitution.”
Pahor assured the audience that this state would not resemble anything like the United States of America because it simply would not be feasible.
“It would be a complete disaster if we would push for the United States of Europe to be a half a billion population size replica of the USA,” Pahor said.
Pahor said he believes that a unified Europe should be created sooner, rather than later, because he believes it could ensure Europe’s prosperity and survival amid economic difficulties caused by the eurozone crisis.
Considering the way the EU has been shaken up since the recent economic crisis, Pahor said he thinks that the countries will have to act soon if Europe wants to “remain a player in the 21st century.”
“The crisis has shown that Europe cannot survive the time of crisis and the time after with the Lisbon Treaty—the legal framework for the EU, which basically has been a compromise between constitution we want and the reality we witness,” Pahor said.
Pahor believes issues with the eurozone would be solved with a united constitution.
“You cannot run the eurozone with one central bank and seventeen fiscal policies,” Pahor said, arguing that under a standardized policy, this would not be an issue. “At least in my opinion, it is crystal clear that we have to make a step ahead.”
After leaving the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Slovenia became the first post-communist country to adopt the euro in 2004. Timothy Frye, the director of Columbia’s Harriman Institute and a professor of post-communist history, credits Pahor for the “integration of Slovenia into the global community.”
Slovenia’s history in the former Yugoslavia gives Pahor a unique insight on being a union. He drew a comparison between the current EU and Yugoslavia, saying that both unions lacked democratic and federal visions and that, no matter what, the EU will end like Yugoslavia.
Students at the talk said they appreciated the candor and clarity with which Pahor expressed his goals for Europe.
“It is good to be frank, and all politicians should be like this,” Wang Wei, TC ’15, said.
Claudia Schneider, GSAS ’18 and a native of Germany, said, “I like that he did give his opinion because that’s what people want to hear.”
Schneider, who asked a question during the event, is concerned about the integration of her own country within this larger nation. She said she has mixed feelings about the idea of a united Europe.
“It never could be one big country with one language,” she said. “But we do need more monetary integration.”
Though the rest of Europe is certainly not sold that this could actually work, it is clear that Pahor is sure in his convictions.
“Just a couple of years before the fall of Berlin Wall, would you meet people who said Soviet Union would disappear? No,” Pahor said. “But it happened. It will happen.”