It is often said that one of the goals of the political project that is the European Union is to establish a “United States of Europe”. This analogy is misleading. While the United States has become increasingly centralized at least on paper the states are granted some established rights and responsibility.
The federal government is too large and its influence too prominent, but states still set their own laws on some of this country’s most contentious issues such as abortion and gun rights. Were Europe to emulate such a model the constituent parties (nation states) would retain local authority over at least some of their affairs. However, as recent cases demonstrate, European federalism is far from the federalism of the United States.
Over in Ireland, like the United States, abortion is a hot topic. Ireland is alone in Europe when it comes to the severity of its restrictions on abortion. Abortions are illegal under all circumstances except in the case pregnancy endangering the life of the mother.
While the abnormally religious Irish do have some unorthodox legislation relating to abortion you would think that the sort of federalism European officials say they are practicing would allow for the Irish to make their own laws on abortion. After all, the European Union has an open border policy and Europeans can vote with their feet when it comes to policies. Thousands of Irish women already do this every year, travelling to England to have abortions.
The European Court of Human rights, which has one Irish judge out of the forty seven on the court, ruled in 2010 that a woman with cancer had her rights violated when she was unable to get an abortion in Ireland. The court is set to report on its findings next month. Depending on the findings the court might demand the Irish revise their abortion laws. The current government has vowed to oppose any suggestion from the court.
The European Union has done a poor job at implementing federalism. As a political entity it is highly centralized. It ignores referendums and locally supported policies. The truth is that American-style federalism is not really what the European political machine wants. As the current euro-crisis has been demonstrating, the European political establishment has no respect for democracy and a fetish for centralized control, whether it is economic, political, or judicial.
Nigel Farage MEP from UKIP outlines the EU’s political and economic treatment of Greece below: