*ΤΑ ΑΡΘΡΑ ΕΚΦΡΑΖΟΥΝ ΤΙΣ ΠΡΟΣΩΠΙΚΕΣ ΑΠΟΨΕΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΣΥΓΓΡΑΦΕΩΝ ΤΟΥΣ
GREEK RESPONSES TO FEDERAL IDEAS
by Dr Nikos Yannis
This paper examines the new role that Greece plays within the E.U. in the exchange of ideas regarding the future of Europe. More specifically, we examine the contradiction between domestic political culture and the country’s pro-federalist European commitment. Although in Greek contemporary history the implementation of federalist ideas has not met significant success, nowadays the official approach, positions and perspectives in view of Europe’s federalization seem extremely positive.
1. Federalism: a definition
Theory and practice of federalism has been influenced by the examples of different types of federations such as those of USA, Germany, Switzerland and Canada. Each type has its own particularities and it is hard to conceptualize European integration through the existing models of federations. Still, while there is not a single model which should be adopted, it is possible to identify the basic features of a federal constitutional arrangement.
Federalism is merely a political structure; above all, it is a constitutionalized set of political relationships, particular in kind, which become tangible through certain kinds of structures and processes. This definition relates federalism with the concept of covenant. As D. Elazar suggests, the federal idea refers principally to the character of human relationships. Having its roots in the biblical concept of covenant, federalism regards human beings as autonomous equals, capable of entering into covenants in order to establish the rules and institutions of their self-government; equals who form civil societies and polities by covenanting with one another on the basis of mutual consent in order to advance human cooperation in such a way that all partners preserve their integrity, even as they build a common framework, and in order to cooperate so as to secure common ends. Federalism is the application of the covenantal way in the organization of political authority.
Furthermore, the meaning of federation is opposite to that of the unitary state.
The decentralized dimension of federation allows the vertical and horizontal organization of different national groups and identities. The principle of unity within diversity allows for the unity and, at the same time, for the preservation of autonomy, diversity, independence and distinct identity of the sub-groups/ member states. So, federation is the best kind of political structure for communities with geographically diverse allocation of principles, interests, beliefs and traditions that can be united so as to achieve common targets and interests, fostering at the same time common beliefs and traditions.
The 3 European Communities (1951-1957) have set the foundation for the European integration process and for the implementation of federal ideas, through the functionalist approach.
Federalism in Greece
2.1. A preliminary remark: the size of the country
According to a broadly known argument, the ability of a country to become a federalist one depends on its size; that is, it is not possible for a small country to be rendered into a federation.
It is true that the federal system usually prospers in geographically broad territories, mostly of continental dimensions, where it is easier to develop diversity and decentralization. Thus, many federal states in the world have resulted from smaller individual ones – more often than not colonies – which were brought together out of the need for security and prosperity in the post-colonial era. The United States, Canada, Australia, the former USSR and to an extent India, Mexico, Germany and South Africa constitute examples of this phenomenon. This state-size rule has met two exceptions: Switzerland and Belgium.
However, at this point, it is D. Elazar’s words on federalism characteristics that come to mind: “federalism is essentially a territorially based matrix· while it may be augmented or strengthened… all have had to find a proper territorial base. In modern times (as opposed to the pre-modern tribal federalism) federalism of some other form has not lasted long».
Greece, a small – medium sized mountaneous country, cannot but abide to the rule. Nevertheless, attempting to be the exception to a bad rule is always a worthwhile challenge.
2.2. Federalism in Greek history
The concept of federalism, in theory and especially in practice, was a widely spread phenomenon in ancient Greece. During the 5th c. BC, city states all around Greece were seeking mutual guarantees with their neighboring City States, in reaction to those alliances which demonstrated threatening imperialistic aspirations. This feeling of insecurity forced them to unite, to form much bigger communities and create various kinds of co-federations. These co-federations were called con-polities sinpolities and settlements (sinikismi) (see G.Glotz, The Greek “Polis”). Later on, these co-federations acquired a new meaning for the Greeks and were attributed characteristics similar to those of present day federations. These federal features are easily discerned in the history of city-states in Peloponnisos (South Greece); city – states there were organised in political and monetary unions (Arcadian and Spartan co-federations) using one currency within their communities. According Professor P. Ioacimidis, a number of modern political unification features can be found in the ancient Greek polis, especially when attempting to understand the current situation of European integration through this comparison.
Federal ideas, although not in use in later history, remained vibrant in the philosophy of polity’s organization of many Greeks. Before the Greek War of Independence (1821) and the establishment of the modern Greek state (1830), two eminent figures of the Greek history were inspired by federal ideas: Rigas Ferraios and Ioannis Kapodistrias. In the beginning of 19th century, Rigas Ferraios, seeking the establishment of a Democratic Balkan Federation following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, set, in his essays Political Administration and Governmental System, the basic principles of this federation and its constitution and planned the pan-Balkan revolution. Although Rigas Ferraios’ ideas and inspiration that could have been an alternative to the creation of the nation-state in the Balkans – a region which are still suffering much and had undergone even more – were met with enthusiasm and had many supporters, were not crowned with success.
Ioannis Kapodistrias, on the other hand, the first governor of the independent Greek state, was elected to represent the European alliances against Napoleon I in diplomatic negotiations with Switzerland and Germany, under his capacity of a diplomat and later, as a Minister of Foreign Affairs for Tzar Alexander I. His contribution to the restoration of Swiss independence and neutrality was of decisive importance, as well as in the formation of the Swiss and the German federations in 1813 and 1815 respectively.
However, Ioannis Kapodistrias did not proceed to implementing his federal ideas in the newly established Greek state because the conditions (historical, political, economic and population composition) and the circumstances were different from those in Switzerland and Germany. One can not be certain of what might have happened later on or what might have been the state organisation of Greece, if Kapodistrias had not been assassinated and his political work had not been so harshly terminated.
2.3. The Decentralization Process
It is obvious that Greece belongs to the family of unitary states; and as such it was organized following the centralized model of state organisation.
Looking back to the Greek administrative history, one realizes that during the first decade of independence (1833-1843) it had been relatively easier to adopt and implement administrative arrangements such as, for instance, the prefecture system of decentralization – copying the French model – than to establish genuinely representative institutions of governance. Great efforts were put forth after the revolution of 1843 and during 1870s and 1880s to establish parliamentary governance.
In order to streamline bureaucracy, measures for decentralization are of equal importance. Through these measures executive functions and competencies are being delegated not only to independent administrative units, but also to territorial units of regional administration and local government which are thus able to act independently in order to satisfy local and regional needs. Greece has long been and still is unitary state, which means that it has a centralized political structure that needs the legitimisation of national sovereignty and of the so called national interests.
The Greek state, ever since its foundation as an independent state in 1830, has taken a course opposite to federalism. Notions such as multilevel governance, decentralisation and de-monopolisation, in other words the basic principles of federalism, have been unknown and ignored.
Greece has a tradition of centralized governmental structure, influenced greatly by the model of nation-state, where sovereignty and its preservation co – exists with the democratic principles of a modern state (as is the case of France).
Adopting this model has been dictated by historical, political and economic reasons. The modern Greek state was established when the modern nation states were being shaped (1830), and was structured on the basis of a centralized governmental model; a model which at the time seemed the most appropriate for Europe and the thought of adopting a federal one, as in America, was viewed as impossible.
The foundations for state gigantism were laid in the 19th and 20th century. The main characteristics of this phenomenon are:
- The state was (and still is although to a lesser extend) the major employer. In the beginning of the 20th century, public servants amounted to 20% of the labor force, the highest percentage in Europe. In 1940, there were 54,909 people employed in the public sector, in 1981 their number rose to 351,028 while in 1992 the number of public servants (615,956) amounted to 17% of the labor force. A giant state does not necessarily mean a strong state. On the contrary, from organizational point of view, the state was weak, a fact that gave rise to clientelism.
- Public expenses amount to a high percentage of the gross national product (GNP). The total governmental expenditure reached from 18% of GNP in 1970 to 32.1% in 1981 and 45.5% in 1996. The public debt reached a percentage of 6% of GNP in 1970, and in 1996, 112% of GNP.
- The state regulates and intervenes in the economy. Greece is considered to be the higher regulated country in Europe in the fields of production and labor market. This regulatory activity is depicted on numerous bureaucracy laden and non-transparent laws, texts providing cover to state grants, subsidies and other means of support to enterprises.
As a result of the country’s participation in the European integration process, and its role in international economy, these features are being re-examined and redefined.
Because of all these characteristics of the state, it was not possible for federal seeds to hit fertile soil since the diffusion of power to different social and governmental centres constituted a concept contradicting to the existing state structure.
2.4. Unity within Diversity in Greece, Greek Identity and Multiculturalism
Political federalism purports a governmental structure and a function that ensures unity while at the same time protecting diversity. It could be viewed as a combination of vertical “checks and balances”, contributing to the unhindered function of democracy within federal states or organizations. Within a federal union, states aim at collaborating effectively in democratic joint institutions, in order to ensure peace and to gain strength to face together their common problems. It could be said that a federal state is a democracy of democracies.
Federalism has the gift of uniting diversities without changing them into a unitary shape. The examples of federal states in Europe and the USA demonstrate that diversity is respected and linguistic, ethnic, religious or other kind of minorities enjoy the same rights with the majority of the population. Thus, federalism can be used as a model for conflict resolution in states with heterogeneous population as it has the ability to mould one identity out of many others.
In the case of Greece, the population percentage of minorities is very small, namely the Muslim minority in Western Thrace. This minority enjoys full protection and rights respect under the provisions of the Lausanne Treaty (1923).
According to the discussion on the first report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) in 1997 referring to Greece – an intergovernmental Commission of the Council of Europe – the Greek society is unreservedly characterized as a “homogeneous society”. The Final report of ECRI on Greece adopted the characterization “a rather homogeneous society” due to the fact that nowadays no European society can be regarded as purely “homogeneous”.
It is, however, true that the Greek society is the most homogeneous in Europe. Minorities represent only 2.5% of the total population which means that 97% are Orthodox Christian Greeks. This percentage is subject to alteration, as the Greek society acquires little by little a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic character.
In order to realize this multi-cultural character the Greek society acquires, we only need to take into consideration the national communities formed by recent population migration. Indigenous minorities inhabit territories which have been for centuries associated with them in the majority of cases, but these territories are now within the jurisdiction of a state, the ethnic and cultural character of which is determined by a group other than the minorities in question. Immigrant groups originate from recent migration into a nation-state where ethnic character differs from their own identity. According to this definition we can identify economic immigrants who, in Greece, reach today 700,000 people.
The changes in the former socialist countries that took place in 1989, the ethnic, political and religious conflicts around Europe and the demographic boom in many Third world countries – which make limited progress in their economic development -, are the common factors for illegal/legal immigration in all southern European countries. Greece does not export labor force any more. It is a country with a consolidated democratic conscience, member of all recognized international or regional organizations and it is ranked 31st richest country in the world. Greece has changed places: it is now a labor force importing country, has undergone a transition which proved nothing but smooth and it is now gradually adjusting to the new reality of a country of especially high ethnic, religious and linguistic homogeneity which can be compared only to that of Portugal, Norway and Sweden.
2.5. Human Rights and Civil Liberties
The Greek State has made significant progress towards the development of the legal frame providing protection and respect to diversity. Apart from the commitments undertaken by Greece and are dictated by its participation in the Council of Europe, UN and the signing of other international documents for the protection of Human Rights, the Greek state has proceeded to the adoption of the following legislation:
- The provision of Law 2472/1997 for the non reference of the religion on the Greek citizens’ identity cards. Following the protests of the Greek Archbishop in 2000, the National Center for Human Rights decided that the inclusion of religious affiliation in the Greek citizens’ identity cards was not in accordance with the Greek Constitution nor with the current international human rights law.
- Article 19 of the Code for the Greek citizenship abolition (June 1998). This article allowed for someone to lose his/her Greek citizenship in case he/she leaves the country and the Greek authorities concluded that he/she did not have the intention of returning.
- The provisions of Law 927/1979 and Law 1419/1984 aiming at fighting racism and intolerance.
- The 1998 and 2910/2001 Law on Aliens referring to illegal immigrants who have been residents of Greece for the whole year preceding the law and wished to be registered as legal immigrants. NCHR also called upon the Greek Government to take all appropriate measures for specialized research in the fields of modern types of migration and immigration policy.
- In June 1999 a new provision for asylum seekers was published.
- NCHR initiated a program for human rights education, starting from specific population groups, that is, police officers, public servants, lawyers and students.
- Greece has signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which is going to be ratified soon.
3. European Federalism and Greece
3.1. Greece: Official Positions
Although ever since the creation of the European Community of Coal and Steal there is an ongoing discussion about the future of Europe, it has regained popularity after the negotiations in Nice, especially in relation of where EU should be heading for. This issue has resurfaced and became popular again because of EU enlargement. According to Greek positions, EU enlargement is necessary for the achievement and preservation of stability, democracy and prosperity in the Continent of Europe. Enlargement constitutes both an opportunity and a challenge for posing fundamental questions related to the future of the continent and the objectives of the European unification.
The official debate in Greece concerning the future of Europe and its position in the international system began in July 2001 when Prime Minister Costas Simitis presented the country’s official position on the issue: EU is not accountable for what it actually does; instead it should be accountable for what it is not capable of doing due to its incapability to face new challenges and present day global problems requiring supranational solutions. If the situation remains as it is, that is EU remains as it is, this incapability and consequent inefficiency will be augmented. If we wish to move towards and prosper, the new, enhanced EU should be able to deal with and overcome problems raised by globalisation; should offer justice to the world and its people; should father a new model of development with a social and ecological content and become in this way the sparkle of inspiration for the generations to come.
The Greek government purports that the new EU should be rebuilt, taking into account the voices and suggestions of the European civil society. This view is in accordance with one of the fundamental elements of federalism: adopting a ‘bottom up’ approach to the changes we need to make. If the EU manages to articulate coherent political speech and confirm its place in the world, the goals Europe’s people set will be achieved in a more efficient way.
“We should certainly not go back”, said Mr. Simitis. “The problems we face today” he pointed out “are supranational in nature and as such require supranational solutions”.
According to Greece’s Prime Minister, as presented in a speech he gave on 11 June 2001 at a Conference by the Hellenic Centre of European Studies “The future of Europe and Greece”, the goals for the EU, following the introduction of the Euro, should be:
- The reinforcement of structural policies in order to ensure cohesion of an enlarged Europe. What is essential for the evolution of the EU in a Political Union is the development of the policies contributing to the elimination of inter-regional and social differences.
- The modernisation of the European social model, that is called upon to solve common problems nation states can not deal on their own.
- The completion of the monetary union with an economic union and a true macroeconomic co-ordination of the EU states’ policies
- The financing of the EU policies. The EU needs a bigger budget, independent of circumstantial factors and new ways for its regular financing.
- The initiation of action in fields related to the environment, food quality, free movement of people, immigration, asylum seeking and fight against organised crime. We need a common judicial and police action space.
- EU has to play an active and leading role in the international system and contribute in the creation of a polycentric world order based on international law principles. EU should assume the role of a stabilising factor in the world and of an example setter. The creation of a common defence policy based on solidarity can contribute significantly in boosting EU’ s international status. The common defence policy must operate along with NATO.
- The recognition of the Charter of Human Rights as a legal binding document and its integration in the Treaties. The Charter attributes to EU its core characteristics that make it exceptional: the democratic and humanitarian principles.
As far as institutional changes are concerned, these should happen gradually and not overnight and should follow a step-by-step course towards building a federal Europe. “What is needed is a powerful political drive to lead us to the future of Europe, and this is the collaboration of those who wish and can collaborate on the basis of a federal model (…) which is based on the Community system and the Community method of integration” (Costas Simitis, 11.07.2001). Approaching European integration under the light of federalism is a means to ensure solidarity, cohesion, security and equality of the member states. A federal Europe will undoubtedly be more democratic as European citizens will exercise their direct participation in the decision making process. In a extensively decentralised Europe, based on subsidiarity, the federation’s basic principle, nation states will be better adjusted to work and respond to the new world challenges. Applying subsidiarity and respecting the community model bring about respect for the participating nation states. It is only in a more federal Europe that member states have the ability to preserve their identity (unity within diversity) and to play their crucial role in keeping a balance between ‘national’ and ‘supranational’ through the balanced allocation of competencies. Nation states could regain the power they loose today because of globalisation and economic interaction, if they collaborate in a federal Europe that will become one of the major players in the world order.
Enlargement gives EU the most vigorous thrust to this direction. It should be noted that it will be very difficult to employ the decision making mechanism, even after the adjustments included in the Treaty of Nice, due to the different level of development of each member state. However, the Prime Minister clearly stated that EU should not be stalled due to the slow pace of certain states. Those member states with the ability and wish to give a boost to EU should offer their help in order to move forward to new fields of cooperation. This is the reason why flexibility is a means in which communities shall be given the opportunity to evolve. In the meantime, countries hesitant or unable to keep up, shall be treated with respect and shall be offered the opportunity to join a leading group of states when ready and confident. However, it is necessary to ensure that all EU members observe a set of principles and values and ensure their institutional integration in the fundamental mechanisms of European integration. EU should be flexible enough to face new challenges and delegate competencies among supranational institutions and member states on the basis of their needs. «A strict distribution of powers might cause a re-natiοnalisation of policies or the weathering of the ‘acquis communautaire’ or even cause the integration process to freeze» (Costas Simitis, 11. 07. 2001).
As to the form the European Union might take, the Greek Prime Minister was daring enough to propose the federalist view. «Greece» he said, «supports the transformation of the European Union into a Political Union of federal character». Costas Simitis however, has not endorsed to Fischer’s vision of a European Government with its Constitution and directly elected President. Neither has he supported Jospin’s «federation of nation-states» that would reinforce the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
Nevertheless, the community integration model has met significant success and therefore it should be preserved. Greece considers the European Commission as the supranational and independent institution that will little by little assume the role of a European Government managing the euro and CFSP. The Council could gradually evolve into the second legislative body representing the member states and the superior body for political decision making. In order to achieve a more democratic EU, additional legislative and control power should be granted to the European Parliament; moreover, it is necessary to expand the qualified majority vote and simplify the decision making procedures. In order to participate in the unification process, the competences of national parliaments should expand due to their strategic role at national level.
Sincere efforts should also be put forth to convince people to participate actively in the EU integration. The democratic deficit, making people feel estranged from the decisions taken in Brussels, can only be eliminated through a more federal organisation of the EU. Active citizen participation in the EU integration will bring about a European collective consciousness, the sense of belonging to a formation which can ensure a quality of life respecting certain values officially elaborated in a European Constitution.
Summing up the Greek government’s official first position, we should quote again the Prime Minister: “We support the evolution of the EU, on the basis of the community model of integration, into a Political Union with a federal character. The European integration cannot be accomplished overnight. In-between formations will be sought for and realised, bringing us closer to our goal’.
This is not a model Mr Simitis has drafted but an outline of the reform phases. The Prime Minister insisted that all member states should participate actively in constructing the new institutional order and that Europe’s citizens should become involved in the integration process.
3.2. Greek Political Parties and Federalism
All Greek political parties support more or less the same pro-federalist views the only exception being the Communist Party that traditionally opposes to any possible loss of sovereignty and the free market system, the two prerequisites for a federal political system.
The New Democracy Party, the major opposition party, holds the most interesting views on the future of Europe. New Democracy believes that it is not possible to face and restore Europe’s institutional inadequacy through the institutional changes agreed upon in Nice.
According to New Democracy, Greece is among the major players in the European unification process, as it belongs to the group of member states leading the integration development. ND envisages a wider participation of the people of Europe and adheres to Robert Schuman’s statement, that «we do not bring together states, we bring together people» as their main theme, adding that a Europe of peoples is not enough, it has to be a Europe of active citizens, citizens well informed and able to participate in the decision making process. And this is about to come true when European institutions increase their democratic character and accountability.
The party of New Democracy aims at Greece being an equal participant in the new institutional system, seeks the continuation of structural policies and favours an effective CFSP, an institutionally integrated second pillar. CSFP will enhance Europe’s political role in the world and will result in international balance. United States of America cannot be Europe’s ally, unless the EU member states achieve a more effective cooperation among them first, and speak with a single decisive voice. «This does not mean that Europe is to become a super-state. It is our wish, and it is dictated by common sense too, that member states preserve their privilege to exercise foreign policy, but it is necessary they operate in concert and harmony in order to face the new challenges of the European Continent» (Dora Bakoyanni, member of Parliament, New Democracy party, Conference on 11.07.2001). CFSP should safeguard the protection of European borders and render Europe the stabilising factor that other countries would follow; Europe should also set the example that other countries should imitate in realising that economic prosperity goes hand in hand, in fact it presupposes, respect of human rights and democracy.
According to the New Democracy list of priorities, great emphasis is placed in upgrading the European social model and its adjustment to current demands: elaboration of policies on social protection, labour, education, health, the environment, culture and protection of human rights, taking into account the technological developments and coming closer to the citizens of Europe.
More specifically, the President of the New Democracy party, Kostas Karamanlis, in his speech entitled ‘The vision for the future of EU – Greece in the front line’ (03.07.2001) said: «for us, it is not possible even to perceive Europe where Greek citizens would feel far more insecure regarding their borders than other European citizens (…) for us, building a federal Europe depends on the members’ security (…) for us, the creation of a European army should be encouraged, in the framework of a collective political co-operation with NATO also (…) for us there is not haste to jump on any federal vehicle that comes along if we are not absolutely certain that our national interests will be secured (…) but we strongly believe in the federal perspective of EU and for us the first step for a political unification is strengthening the bonds within the Euro group – a step that the Greek EU Presidency in 2003 has to make».
New Democracy maintains that EU needs a clear plan of action including a Constitution – that should be signed in Greece, the cradle of democracy, for symbolic reasons – the direct election of the President of the Commission by European citizens, an accountable Commission, an enhanced European Parliament, and possibly, an upgraded permanent national representation in Brussels of high accountability as far as democratic procedures are concerned. In addition, at national level, the need for a coordination body might emerge, a body with the task to handle community decisions, as well as the need for a more active national parliament.
The Coalition of the Left and Progress Party (SYN), one of the parliamentary parties of the Left, holds a position on the future of Europe quite opposite to that of the Communist Party of Greece. In fact, SYN agrees on various views put forth either by PASOK, the Socialist party in government, or ND, the opposition party. According to SYN, the EU enlargement gives rise to two dangers: first, the EU looses its political characteristics and remains solely a Single Market, and second, inter-European rivalries rekindle. In order to avoid falling into these two potential traps, SYN recommends that EU should proceed to its political unification in such a way that democracy is assured and all member states waive their sovereignty to the same degree in favour of common European interests that at the same time will preserve the uniqueness of each member state as far as culture, history and society are concerned. SYN does not explicitly mentions federalism but supports federalist principles and criticizes liberal and social-democratic governments for being hesitant and making weak-minded choices, making thus EU an issue to be dealt at intergovernmental level.
What SΥΝ proposes is:
- to counterbalance the monetary union with substantial changes in the economic and social policies and at the same time strengthen other policies, namely environmental and cultural ones;
- to counterbalance America as superpower with a peace-friendly European CFSP;
- to render EU a global power that will be more actively involved in global issues (such as poverty, education, information and technology inequality, disarmament, environmental pollution, AIDS, drugs, slavery, racism, xenophobia, violation of human rights, nationalism and religious furore);
- to bring the centres of decision making on EU issues closer to the European citizens.
3.3 Public opinion: perceptions and attitudes towards federalism
No specific survey has been carried yet to investigate the opinions Greek have on federalism. Still, certain conclusions can be drawn on the basis of the relevant Eurobarometre 2000 and 2001 surveys.
One of the most important elements of a federal formation is the single currency. According to the survey towards the euro, the population in Greece lacks information about the new currency but would very much like to learn more about it. Besides their reservations due to lack of information, a large part of the population thinks positively about it. Their main concerns are unemployment, social and economic policy and the country’s economic cohesion. Greeks have a generally positive attitude and take reasonable and moderate positions even on politically important issues related to national sovereignty and autonomy. Interpreting the results of various questionnaires (Eurobarometre 2001-Special Edition, Presentation and Analysis of the Greek Public Opinion, Survey carried out for the European Commission’s Representation in Greece, July 24, 2001) we can conclude that almost all believe in the European perspective and the step-by-step integration into more integrated European structures, both at institutional-political but also at functional level. More than 90% of Greeks believe that the Euro will positively influence the effort to make Europe more powerful and the promotion of the European integration. Indeed, the Greeks realise the importance of the Euro as a step towards European Unification to a greater extend than the average percentage in the other member states (EU 15).
Unfortunately, although only 29.8% of the people are aware that the Nice Summit was directly related to the enlargement of EU; however, they have a generally positive attitude towards the issue of enlargement. It is interesting to note that there is a trend for selective enlargement: 59.3% think that only some of the countries seeking membership should become members and only 1 out of 5 Greeks think that every country wishing membership should be granted their wish.
The pace in which Europe is being built is also one of the Greek population concerns. In a scale from 1 to 7, the majority of Greeks believes that the pace of European integration process moves at a pace between 3 to 5. A percentage of 68.6% thinks that Europe is being built at a medium to high speed, while 2.3% thinks that the process has come to a standstill and 6.3% considers the process has acquired the highest possible speed. In a scale of 1 to 7, Greek great point average is 4.16 while in the other European member states (EU 15) the average is 3.85. In Greece people wish Europe to be constructed rapidly (5.9% of the population), followed by Italy (5.7%), Portugal (5.6%) and Spain (5.3%) (European Commission, Eurobarometer 54, Autumn 2000). Also a percentage of 59% of the Greek people (6 out of 10) want the EU to play a more important role in their daily life in the next 5 years (71% in Italy, 69% in Portugal, 56% in Spain – Eurobarometer 54 Autumn 2000, p. 64). Joint EU decision making receives the support of a percentage of 51% of the population while the EU 15 average is 52% (Eurobarometer 54 Autumn 2000, p. 65).
In addition to the above, Greeks do not worry whether their country’s role will be diminished due to either the expanding, or the deepening of Europe during the “building of Europe” process. A percentage of 61% of the survey participants do not consider there is a direct risk for the autonomy and independence of the country, 58.8% think that such a risk is unlikely to occur and 31.2% express their concern about the future. Nevertheless, a high percentage of the participants point out the possibility of “big” member states reinforcement and their consequent taking over political control of the EU. This indicates that people wish to be a part of a Europe of equal partners, a pro-federal Europe.
In another survey regarding peoples’ attitude towards seven key issues (i) teaching in schools how EU works, (ii) CFS and (iii) Defence Policy, (iv) whether the Commission and its President should be either endorsed with the Parliament’s support or resign, (v) EU should be responsible only for issues with which national, regional and local governments can not cope, (vi) the issue of one single currency, (vii) the issue of enlargement) Greece is ranked first with a percentage of 77%, and Italy is second with a percentage of 76% while the UK takes up the last rank with 45% (Eurobarometer 54 Autumn 2000, p. 70).
A high percentage of Greeks, namely 77.3% (followed by Italians with a percentage of 56.6%), is interested in taking part in a discussion with the politicians on the future of Europe, while the respective percentage of EU 15 is only 44.2%. Similar questions lead us to similar conclusions: people in Greece want more information on EU issues and consider this to be their right in order to fully understand the risks and perils of the future. Indeed, receiving detailed information and being thoroughly aware of all issues comes up as a far stronger demand than that for direct participation in the political discussions on the future of Europe. People are not interested in participating in this political discussion because they do not know much about the European Union. A percentage of 25.4% who voted for this political discussion associates this process with their political awareness and their right to vote for the European Parliament. It is the European Parliament that people in Greece trust the most, followed by the Court of Justice and the European Commission. Supranational federal bodies enjoy the trust of Greek people to a greater extent than those favouring and representing national sovereignty, e.g. the Council.
The EU related issues that are most appealing for public discussion are issues of interest to all European citizens: unemployment, health, food suitability, environment, citizens’ rights. People prefer these discussions and debates to take place at local and regional authority level (a federal approach altogether). The need for EU of higher degrees of participation and democracy is obvious, constituting on its own the prerequisite for a gradual and bottom up federalisation of Europe.
When realising that people in Europe share among them their geographical territory and the same interests, Greeks require information about the positions of politicians in other EU countries think on issues related to the EU citizen life and the opinions of people in other countries about the future of EU. A common consciousness is being shaped, another federalist feature of the Greek people.
It is interesting to note that a percentage of 94.7% believe Greeks should have knowledge of the Constitution and 88.4% believe that they should have knowledge of the EU Treaties. However, a percentage of 78.3% believes that people are not adequately familiar with these texts, 58.6% consider the texts difficult to trace and 42.9% considers the texts difficult to understand. It was only a percentage of 0.4% that was aware of the content of these texts and responded respectively to the survey.
On the other hand, it is equally interesting to note that although Greeks are eager to move towards the deepening of EU integration, the existing EU organisational model gives birth to doubts and mistrust as in Greece more that 50% of the population believes that EU decisions, after the enlargement, should be taken unanimously (European Commission, Eurobarometer 54, Autumn 2000, p. 86). Perhaps this demonstrates that Greeks do not perceive EU, in its present form, as a unified, common secure space.
‘Federalising the EU’ is a rather complicated phrase to the Greek or European ears as only a small part of the population perceives its implications. Some people confuse federalism in the EU with other forms of federalism such as the USA or Germany. However, the important lesson we should learn from this public opinion analysis is that European citizens are not satisfied by the present state of the EU and they will be even less pleased if they have to face additional adversities due to the enlargement. The EU, being a sui generis formation, one of its kind, needs to be adjusted to the new conditions, it’s the demand of its citizens. And it is only through the ways dictated by European citizens that the EU can achieve this adjustment: participation, security, social cohesion, peace, sustainable development under humanitarian principles. On the whole, this means EU should adopt federal characteristics even though it is not going to transform into Federal States of Europe.
According to a recent survey undertaken by Optem for the European Commission, to the Greek eyes Europe does not mean exclusively economic growth but also and equally important, Europe means history, culture and its citizens mentality. At this point, the authors of this report maintain that Greeks, Eastward oriented to an equal or greater degree, feel a ‘substantial distance’ from other European countries, especially the countries of the north. Their wish to approach the northern countries is obvious; however, the wish to make up for economic and social lag is dominant, influenced by the feeling that other countries wish to impose their views on Greece, a feeling which is difficult to pinpoint and widely spread at the same time.
As far as Greeks are concerned, the European Union should stand up to American aspirations in both economic and diplomatic front. Up until now, it is widely accepted that Europe’s attempt to go against America have been a total failure.
3.4. Civil society: a federalising factor
Civil society is undoubtedly a federalising actor in Greece as in other EU countries as well.
It was as early as 1920s and 1930s that the first supporters of the federal movement made their appearance in the Greek political arena. Following World war II, a Greek representation with members of Parliament participated in the European Parliamentary Union (EPU) founding conference in Gschtaad in 1947 and in the European Conference in Hague in May 1948 where the Greek section of the European Movement was founded. A little before that, the Greek Association for the European Cooperation had been founded. From that point onwards, numerous organisations were formed and today, there are over 30 national (some with branches extending all over Greece) and international NGOs which promote, directly or indirectly, the European idea.
An even greater number of organisations contributes in the exchange of ideas and values among European citizens on different issues and areas of interest in which each one is taking up action. The majority of these organisations are not strictly Greek but have ‘branches’ in other EU countries. The European civil society, a network of these organisations, has been developing for quite some time now.
Civil society is not only the Non Governmental Organisations, but also the Unions which often collaborate through official or unofficial channels in order to promote their rights and the new European social model. The academia and the Universities can also be considered a federalising actor, as they contribute in student exchange and thus the exchange of ideas on the future of Europe. Academics in Greece are constantly engaged in a most interesting debate on EU issues through publications in newspapers which offer information and in depth analysis to the wider public. This debate has to do with the direction towards which the EU is heading: is it moving towards a Union of States or a more Federal European Union? Through this presentation of the advantages and disadvantages of both objectives, old as the Community itself, the public can shape an opinion, but above all, people become aware of gains and stakes.
A well informed civil society which is fully aware of all issues constitutes a key element to a more federal Europe. And this is because the shift to federalism is not a political decision imposed from people above but it is going to emerge through democratic procedures as a demand of the people of Europe. Civil society attributes a federal dimension to each member state and to the European Union as a whole. The European Union is characterised by a fundamental element of federalism, subsidiarity; civil society action in fields that governments and supranational institutions are not so efficient on the one hand and active European citizens on the other is, in itself, a form of subsidiarity.
4. Contemporary Greece towards a European Federation
This paper’s aim was to present and analyse the relation between Greece and federalism, at domestic and European level, in theory and practice.
Greece was never a federal state and almost all federal elements it demonstrates today derive from the country’s participation in the European integration process. Due to historical, political and economic reasons, the Greek state adopted a centralized structure and a centralistic ideology which for long has been reinforcing national consolidation, while hindering modernization. Although federalism is not the only solution of internal political organization Greece strongly supports a federal future for Europe. The question how viable it will be to maintain a centralized national structure within a European Federation in the name of the federalist principle of preserving national identity, remains to be answered in the years to come. There would be reaction and protest if under federalism, the preservation of culture means the preservation of political culture also, a concern of large EU members such as France. Only experience will prove whether federalism, while preserving culture, can preserve political culture as well. This is an issue of interest for smaller and bigger European states as well. In other words, the case of the European unification can be consider a test of whether a federation should not only be a democracy of democracies but also and equally important, whether it should be a federation of federations.
An American journalist, Thomas Friedman, believes he has found new evidence to prove that democracy and a competitive market can be taught: “Greece” he writes in an in the New York Times on 12 June 2001 “provides a wonderful laboratory for the most interesting clash going on around Europe today – the clash between two grand theories. One is Francis Fukuyama’s notion that with the triumph of liberal democracy and free – market capitalism over all other systems, history has ended – in the sense that if your country wants to prosper now there is only one road. And the other is Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations – the notion that culture matters in how, or whether, a country adopts capitalism or democracy, and that the religious fault lines of old will become the new fault lines of the post–cold- war era. I can report that Fukuyama is winning in Greece but Huntington is putting up a good fight”. A good example for this statement are also the Greek responses to federal ideas and dilemmas.
- Panayotis K. Ioakimidis, “The Future of Europe. The Perspective of the European Federation and Greece”, I.Sideris , Athens 2000.
- Panos Kazakos, “Greece between Adjustment and Marginalization, Essays in European and Economic Policy”, Diatton Publications, 1991.
 see K. Tsoukalas, “State and Society in Greece of the 19th century”, in G. B. Dertilis-K.Kostis (eds), Issues of the Modern Greek History, (in Greek), Sakkoulas publications, Athens-Komotini 1991, pp.218-220· P. C. Ioakimidis, The European Union and the Greek State, (in Greek), Themelio editions, 1998, pp. 60-63 and also A. Makridimitris, Administration and Society: the public sector in Greece, (in Greek), Themelio editions, 1999, pp.104-105.
 Politicians who supported the initiative of Cont Kontenhove Kalegri were the Liberals Andreas Michalakopoulos, Nikolaos Politis, Alexandros Papanastasiou and the Conservative Alexandros Zaimis.
 FoundersQ G. Tabakopoulos and P. Poulitsas, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, P. Pipinelis, at the time had control over the organisation, which was a member of the European LECE (League Europeen de la Cooperation Economique).