A "United States of Europe" should be formed by the 18 eurozone countries to stabilise the European single currency, a vice-president of the European commission says in a speech on Monday evening.
Speaking at the Cambridge University faculty of law, Viviane Reding borrows Winston Churchill's historic 1946 phrase as she called for a full fiscal and political union on much of the continent.
Delivering the Mackenzie Stuart lecture, Reding says: "There is a strong case for a true fiscal and ultimately political union. In my personal view, the eurozone should become the United States of Europe."
However, Reding endorses Churchill's view, outlined in his Zurich speech in 1946, that Britain should remain apart from the United States of Europe.
She says: "Like Winston Churchill, I believe that the UK will not be part of this, but it should remain a close ally with the federated eurozone, with which it would continue to share a common market, a common trade policy and hopefully a common security agenda."
British sources dismissed Reding as an "unrepentant federalist". But they welcomed the acknowledgment by a senior member of the European commission of the extent of changes needed to create new governance arrangements for the eurozone, which would require treaty change.
David Cameron insists that he will be able to table major changes to the EU if he wins the 2015 general election because he says that treaty change, which would require the UK's agreement, is inevitable.
Reding also acknowledges one of the prime minister's central demands – that the 10 EU members outside the eurozone, led by Britain, will need guarantees to ensure that the single market is protected.
Reding says: "The eurozone members must acknowledge the need to find solutions where their interests are different from those of the member states who do not share the single currency. Otherwise, they risk pushing the UK out of the EU before it decides of its own accord, as it might, to jump."
The commissioner from Luxembourg hopes to succeed José Manuel Barroso as the next president of the European commission. This is seen as highly unlikely because she is from Luxembourg, whose former prime minister, Jean Claude-Juncker, is a more likely candidate.
A Foreign Office source said in response to Reding's speech: "This is a mixed bag of a lecture from an unrepentant federalist. While Commissioner Reding recognises the needs of euro-outs and the global race, there's no understanding that the EU's deep flaws need putting right, for example leaving more issues to national governments and the lack of democratic accountability. Nothing's more damaging to the EU than failing to accept that it needs to deal with problems like free movement abuse.
"Only a tiny minority across Europe back her call for a United States of Europe but she's entitled to her view, however few share it. The prime minister, however, is confronting those problems by seeking to make the EU work better for all and giving the British people a choice on the EU: in or out."
Reding's call for a United States of Europe is a more dramatic version of Barroso's call in his state of the union speech in 2012 for the creation of a "federation of nation states". He said this would require treaty change.
Original headline: Eurozone countries should form United States of Europe, says EC vice-president
Most Popular Stories
- Obama Administration Releases Proposal to Regulate For-Profit Colleges
- Elizabeth Vargas' Husband Marc Cohn Addresses Rumors
- Keurig Adds Peet's coffee, Alters Starbucks deal
- Quiznos Files for Chapter 11
- Vybz Kartel Convicted of Murder
- U.S. Consumer Sentiment Falls in Early March
- U.S. to Relinquish Gov't Control Over Internet
- SoCalGas Reaches Record Spend on Diversity Suppliers
- Is Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in Andaman Sea?
- Koch Brothers Step up Anti-Obamacare Campaign