It was perhaps easy for Snr. Barroso to be so confident in his call for a new federal Europe; he's not facing election. Appointed by the Council, he will stay as President until September 2014 - a period of the most profound change in Europe. For national political parties and governments across Europe, support for Federalism could be political suicide. The UK's disillusionment with the traditional parties in power is not unique; across Europe voters are dissatisfied with an established political system that has failed them badly. The spectre of the 'No' votes to Lisbon from French and Dutch referenda in 2005 hangs heavily over Brussels, and the prospect of paying for a third bailout for Greece, which has only met 22% of its austerity targets, will only polarise more national voters against the obligations of Federalism.
Der Spiegel carries two unlinked pieces; one is a continuing series of articles on the impoverishment of Germany's younger generation, unable to accumulate wealth even with that nation's current economic advantages. The other is a candid admission from economist Thomas Straubhaar that ESM is explicitly redistributionist; "In general, it means that we will have to accept the idea of more
redistribution -- and, of course, that means redistribution from the top
down. Germany is a very prosperous economy in Europe, and a share of
that prosperity will be redistributed to comparatively poorer European
regions." Barrose assumes that Germany, already a well-established redistributive federation, will go happily into a larger Federation. Perhaps he should not be so sure.
The prospect that our next election in 2015 will be dominated by Europe is growing, to the great discomfort of both Cameron and Miliband. Both will be asking how a pro-Europe or Eurosceptic stance will affect their electoral prospects, and both will be united in wanting to avoid a referendum before the election, for which they must show their hands fully, but Europe's timetable may not permit them this convenience. Again, if a third Greek bailout means an additional UK contribution to the IMF, at a time when our own austerity measures really start to bite, British voters will be driven more firmly into the anti camp.
Centre-right French daily Le Figaro predicts what we already suspect; that "Europeans turn up their noses at the institutions of the EU, responsible for all the ills of the debt crisis and the Euro. For most of them, there is no question of transferring more powers to Brussels. But behind their backs, almost surreptitiously, their leaders are quietly moving to implement Federalism."
So far Brussels has moved rapidly towards Federal union by effectively ignoring Europe's 500m voters. Whether it can take this next, giant, step while continuing to do so is the crunch question. As Richard North says, there's now everything to play for - and much will depend on how the media, mainstream and social, keep European issues in the public mind, contrary to the policy of a Parliament and establishment who would seek to banish it from popular thought.