Federalism: the success stories

June 7, 1996

In his "Here's Looking at EU" (THES, May 24) Eurosceptic Martin Holmes inadvertently makes the case for great federal success stories that he fails to identify. When he acknowledges that federation works only "if its component parts are regions, cantons or former colonies" his list of "models of political success" would include inter alia: the United States, West Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, India and Malaysia.

Contrary to Holmes's reading of history, the USSR was never a genuine federation, despite its bogus constitutional claims, and while it is true that both Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia both broke up, they were really centralised commmunist regimes with poor distribution systems rather than fully democratic federations. Rather than worrying about an "undemocratic" federal Europe, then, Holmes should look again at his own reflections upon "democratic accountability and national sovereignty" in the United Kingdom. They are, as he claims, "as important today as ever before". Eurosceptics need to look at the UK before the EU.

Michael Burgess Director Centre for European Union Studies University of Hull

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