Welcome to our second-ever book of the month! Each month, we put forward a book for our Book Club, collecting your questions and comments and taking them to the author for their response. In May, it is the turn of Professor Ulrike Guérot and her book “Why Europe Must Become a Republic“.

Ulrike Guérot is the founder of the European Democracy Lab, and we asked you to send us in questions for her back in March. The central thesis of her book is that “reform” and tinkering around the edges of the EU is no longer sufficient. Instead, she believes we need a fresh start with a new, more democratic blueprint.

The new “European republic” would comprise of:

  1. Civil equality before the law
  2. Political equality in the form of universal suffrage
  3. Shared mechanisms to promote the common good

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in by Klaus, who is convinced of the benefits of European federalism, because he thinks individual European nationstates cannot stand alone against “global players” such as the US and Russia. Would Ulrike Guérot agree? Is this also part of the motivation for writing her book?

I deliberately chose the term ‘republic’ because it carries very different connotations than ‘federation’. For 70 years we have been discussing European integration through the lens of federalism, even though the word ‘federation’ has different meanings in different European languages. In France, for example, we mean ‘centralisation’, in Germany, on the other hand, we mean the federation [of government] downwards, in terms of countries and municipalities, etc.

At heart, it’s probably the same concept, but according to my way of thinking we’re talking about a republic. I mean that in the sense of the ‘res publica’ and the common good, with the citizens as sovereign within the political system. This is certainly a different motivation than starting a federation of nation-states because one feels they are too small to compete on the world stage. Because the concept of the republic is aimed at the citizen. As Jean Monnet once said: ‘Europe does not mean to integrate states, but to unite citizens’.

Next up, we had a comment from @Me2birdie sent to us via Twitter, asking what happens if the majority of Hungarians or Danes simply do not want to be part of a European Republic. Will these countries be thrown out of the EU?

Thank you for this crucial question! The classic question of political science is always who decides on political questions? That is not clear in the European Union today. In Max Weber’s terms, the EU’s political system lacks the legitimate monopoly of force. In the example of Hungary, we see when it comes to the refugee question that we are, in fact, unable to implement our own case law. No one will push the 963 refugees Hungary is required to take across the border in a bus. Who can decide these things: the EU or the nation state?

Neither of them! In the end, neither the EU nor the nation state can decide, only the sovereign citizens can make this kind of political decision. Following this line of thinking, it is no longer about ‘the Hungarians’, but about all of us as 510 million European citizens, who together decide whether we want a European democracy (republic) based on the general political principle of equality. Then together we say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the EU.

Finally, we had a comment from Robin, who wanted to know whether the idea of a European Republic is really a realistic prospect. Are we getting closer to achieving it, or is the idea further away than ever?

Things have changed a lot in the last two years. I do not think we are in a process of ‘re-nationalisation’. Rather, we are in a process of splitting nations and citizens into pro-European and counter-European camps. We see this with Brexit in Britain, where half of the population voted ‘Leave’ in the referendum, the other half ‘Remain’ . Incidentally, we also have a divided France, something which became clear in the [2017] presidential elections between Macron and Le Pen; and we also see it in Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, and virtually everywhere. Half of the population wants to be with the EU, the others do not. This also means that “the British” or “the French” no longer exist in the sense of a demos. Citizens’ political position on Europe is becoming increasingly more important than their national background. That is something that has changed!

As Stefan Zweig would have argued: we cannot understand the historical epoch we live in, because the final outcome of our era is still open. We know very clearly today that the Weimar epoch was 1918-1933. Today, however, we only know that everything started with the Maastricht Treaty in 1992; when or how this epoch ends, we do not know yet. Nations are divided over the European question. I think it’s really taken off … maybe it’s because of my own bubble of perception, but there has never been so much discussion about Europe. Never before has there been so much civil society engagement … [Look at] Debating Europe! We are talking about Europe with the help of the latest technology!

People are really talking and asking questions about Europe, and that has changed, even if we do not always have the answers. Incidentally, that also means the ‘opposite side’ [e.g. nationalism, euroscepticism] is also being discussed more, and there is disagreement, and that is good. Because we argue and disagree, but it has little to do with your nationality. Your political position is more and more determined by your age or place of residence. I think these new discourses coming from young people are great! It is more and more about European democracy, rather than European integration. That’s a good paradigm shift. We have to win this discussion, which certainly will not be a cakewalk, but we can all do our part!

Would you like the EU to become a ‘European Republic’? Should citizens, rather than nationstates, be the political foundation of the EU? Is this a realistic prospect, or just a pipedream? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS:: CC / Flickr – Martin Kraft; Portrait: (c) – Butzmann

157 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Ivan

    A European banana republic is what you already have.

    • Maarten

      Europe only produces a single cash crop? Because that is what the phrase refers to.

    • Ivan

      Maarten Dominicus Schroders It also refers to any State that is politically unstable or tyrannical.

  2. Marnix

    I would, a European federation is the best way to make sure European interests are protected without becomming vasal states to the US or getting the continent devided again

    • Ivan

      What would you do if the peoples in the EU said no ?

    • Arvit

      Then its no. Simple. As a EU citizen i woudnt mind if the EU became a country

    • Mario

      The EU is already a federation.

    • Marnix

      It’s not, it’s a polittical union between 28, soon to be 27 countries who decided a higher government would be benificial.

    • Ivan

      Mario Tuhcic Only in the dreams of EU fanatics, the majority have never wanted your pointless EU and will never accept it.

    • Oreste

      Ivan Burrows “fanatics” “never”(2x) “pointless”: that’s fanatics language. To Mario, it’s not a federation yet, although several fields of sovereignty have already been delegated to the EU.

    • Dee

      Marnix Kappeyne I don’t remember being asked,I do remember having to vote 4 times on 2 EU treaties because we gave the wrong answer..

    • Dee

      Oreste Kafaf by whom? Our sovereignty is not for politicians to give away

    • Marnix

      I meant for it to go to Mario sorry for not clarifying that in the comment :)

    • Marnix

      Communism is always the answer

    • Ivan

      Only if death, decay and misery on a biblical scale is the required outcome.

  3. Paul

    What to do with all the monarchs ?

    • Michael

      Bye bye monarchs!

    • Arvit

      Id prefer to keep them. How about instead of figure head of the country they become the same but of a state/province

    • Ivan

      Do what Socialists always do, kill them along with teachers, free thinkers, anyone of faith, business owners & anyone else who does not agree with their death cult ideology.

  4. Yannick

    Les européistes ou eurofédéralistes ont quand même bien évolué, la preuve par l’Histoire des constatations :

    – La construction européenne est le bonheur sur Terre il faut plus d’Europe
    – La construction européenne ne va pas assez vite il faut plus d’Europe
    – La construction européenne ne fonctionne pas bien il faut plus d’Europe
    – La construction européenne est inefficace et contre productive il faut plus d’Europe
    – La construction européenne est viciée, bloquée, construite sur de mauvaise bases inamovibles il faut plus d’Europe
    – la construction européenne est en train de détruire l’Europe il faut plus d’Europe

    Le diagnostic évolue, mais malheureusement pas la solution préconisée.

    • catherine benning


      Unfortunately not all who come here understand French language. A pity, I agree. So, this is the nearest I could make of it.


      The Europeanists or eurofederalists have continued to evolve, the proof is there in the History of its events:

      – The European construction is happiness on Earth, so we must have more Europe
      – European construction is not going fast enough so we need more Europe
      – The European construction does not work well and we must have more Europe
      – European construction is inefficient and counterproductive, it must have more Europe
      – The European construction is flawed, blocked, built on irremovable bad bases it needs more Europe
      – European construction is destroying Europe lets have more Europe

      The diagnosis is evolving, but unfortunately not via the recommended solution.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      French, the original Ministry of Truth’s (1635) ‘Newspeak’.

    • EU Reform- Proactive

      @ Frenchman Yannick’s………: “European construction is destroying Europe- more Europe is needed”…..?

      Maybe one must not take Catherine’s translation of Yannick’s “EU hype?” too literally- or believe in Tarquin’s (thank you both) historical “1635 Absolutism & Dumas’s romantics?

      Sorry, but isn’t “European-ism, Pro-European-ism (= “European construction”) and EU’ism” one and the same? If misunderstood, please elaborate.

      Is his “neologism” comment saying- EU’ism is destroying Europe true- or is it “quixotic”?

  5. Hélder

    I’d gladly replace the current grotesque display of nation-states with a mature construct. Unfortunately, a vast majority of the europeans still clings to the ‘make the tribes great again’ mantra that brought down the bridges put in place by the roman empire.

    • Leopoldo

      Make the Roman Empire Great again

    • Hélder

      Another nonsense, I’m afraid…

    • Paul X

      I suggest it isn’t a case of “making tribes great ” but just a vast majority who are happy to have a tribe and the sense of personal identity it brings….. rather than being forced into becoming a faceless figure wearing one of 510 million bland, grey, ill fitting suits

    • Mario

      So much difference between nation state nationalism and EU-nationialism right?

    • Hélder

      Yes, a tremendous difference between a primitive tribal approach and a more mature construct based on a rational assessment of organizational needs.

    • Paul X

      I would suggest a “construct based on a rational assessment of organizational needs” is communism

  6. Antoine

    With the present level of democracy, more centralised power would make it even closer to the dreaded USSR or USA, both controlled by Oligachic structures…
    We’d rater have a loose federation of independant democratic states with a Swiss like high level of decentralization…

  7. George

    Are you sure ? Do you know what you are asking? Think twice! Stay away of these type of questions!

  8. Nikos

    Yes.the question is how the 80% of the European population who opposing this will be convinced.

  9. Ludwig

    it will be not easy but we have to do something to find rapidly together, remember the war between the North and South of US before marriage of 51 States. We can do it without War in the E. U.

  10. Wendy

    Nato is the alliance that has kept the peace in Europe. The EU is a grand Mafia that creates prohibitions so that crime and exploitation can thrive.

    • Rod

      With the like of Farage as a MEP it may be more like the Russian Mafia.

    • Wendy

      Farage has put himself out of a job. How many Russian politicians do that?

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      What a silly comment.

  11. Nelson

    Nope. Because it would be the fourth Reich… Germans took all without a single bullet! Fortunately Britain went out at the right moment…

    • Pieter

      Reich translates as empire. There was the Holy Roman empire, German empire and all of a sudden a Reich. Interesting attempt of dissociation by the Brits

    • Alex

      Its really working out well for Britain aint it😂

  12. Paul X

    The only question is why? Ambitious politicians would clearly love the idea because of the power… ambitious corporations would love the idea because of the financial potential… but what’s in it for the average person on the street who lives in a small town and is happy to have the sense of community that comes with it and is proud of their nationality…what is the physical benefit to these people of being homogenised into just being one in a sea of 510 Million Europeans?..

  13. aguysomewhere

    Come on, you really expect us to believe that the creation of a EU Nation has not been the goal of this whole exercise all along lol. The EU has a parliament that can make laws that affect 500000000 people, an executive, their diplomats have diplomatic immunity, the EU Has it’s own flag and anthem, it claims that there is such a thing as an EU citizen of which there would be about 500000000. Now we are hearing that the EU wants an army allegedly to protect trade routes, that this army would fight wars side by side with the USA in the middle east just as powerful EU Nations France,UK and Germany ofcourse is not talked about, but to any halfway intelligent person this is an obvious consequence of an EU army.
    I am glad that now there is talk of a Republic at least finally the truth can come out, maybe Brexit and the threat of Italexit etc. is finally forcing the EU to push forward with the ultimate final step, the declaration of the EU Nation.

  14. Serxhio

    Federalism is the key not a Republik.
    We are all different, but in the same time we are all europeans.
    With federalism can be governed better.
    Everyone should conserve their identity.

    • Bartek

      Perhaps a federal republic would be the right way :)

    • Tessa

      See Switzerland.

    • Serxhio

      Switzerland is the perfect example!

  15. Hartmann

    NO-GO! Next election SPD will resend Schulz to Brussels. After voters have sent him home in Germany.

  16. Mario

    Guys, we either turn into a serious European Confederation or we just cease to exist. At the same time the central government has to take in consideration needs and issues of southern EU countries as well. Germany and France are not the only EU countries. We ALL matter, not just the wealthy ones!

  17. Valeria

    I don’t think that becoming a European Republic is really good prospect. Do you really believe that some independent and plentiful countries in Europe will want to be a part of one country? That “country” also won’t transcend some most powerful nations, so I ‘m convinced it’s quite irrationally. EU brings lots of benefits to its countries like economical interactions, free trade and traveling , despite it there are lots of wealthy countries which can be a great associate in all spheres. Also in my opinion EU gives some countries an opportunity to mean something in global scale, that’s quite important for them. So, i think creating a European Republic can bring some bad consequences like local wars, disputes and so on. There won’t be any benefits.

  18. Andrea Brown

    Yes, if the neoliberal lunacy was dropped and we adopted a mixed social-capitalism system. Let Capitalism do what it does best and let socialism do what it does best.

  19. James

    And let them who never got a vote to dictate to us, Oh lets not forget all the banks Ireland bailed out.

  20. Willem

    Republic ..nope, kingdome with an emperor with no power… as in constitutional monarchy…, yes…, republics always lead to dictatorships..they are no good… just look at the USA… aka trumpghanistan..

    • Alex

      Seems fun but who’d be the monarch?

  21. Yiannos

    If it has a powerful army yes and based on equal rights without Germany sucking all the wealth of the EU

    • Alex

      Germany sucking the wealth? Mate Germany provides most of that wealth😂

    • Klaus

      Automatically even if its a democracy

  22. John Costigane

    The American model can be the basis for the European Republic, and any other grouping of neighbouring countries in other parts of the world. What can be wrong with the best parts of each European nation expanded to the maximum under the direction of an elected President.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      @John Costigane
      Hmmm, a bit Adolfesque methinks.

  23. Valentin

    I support the ideea of an european federal republic with all my heart. I am a true liberal federalist.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      Great concept, it will cause great distress when if ever implemented.

  24. David

    As long as the death penalti for corrupt polititions was made law.

    • Jimmy

      Aye 😉

  25. SAL Benavidel Van der Berg

    I swear on my true secret name, my family, my ancestors, my country and my religion i will do everything i can to make this happen, the devil shall not win!

  26. Klaus

    Minimally partial centralisation of European armies should happen.

    A certain Unity should be obtained without damaging the nations their sovreignity that much.

    Its a yes nor a no because the whole concept hasnt been properly explored, yet.

    A pure yes or no automatically leads to tearing apart Europa

  27. Jaap

    Absolutely not. The present democratic level of the EU is of such poor quality that I do not give it one single chance.

    • Dan

      Would you like to participate to the election of the Slovenian commissioner? And Spaniards to elect the British rep? In your country the main bureaucrats are perhaps elected? So basically you are no democrat but just xenophobic

    • Jaap

      Dan Ivanov Please explain your explanation. Your response runs the risk if being not understandable.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      Not all cultures are equal to assume otherwise is illogical and dangerous.

    • Alex

      More like a United States of Europe (only less corrupt), oh cynical one😜

    • Richard

      Less corrupt…. teehee…. try buying an empty briefcase in Brussels! ;-)

  28. Giulio

    Never. It’s just a big BS. It’s just a globalist business.

  29. EU Reform- Proactive


    But the 27 National parliaments are challenged to subject this EU proposal to the scrutiny of the electorate! Never ever to be decided by the EU, some EU selected individuals, journalists, fan clubs, Professors & writers who freely roam the EU.

    The ongoing guesswork could be given the coup de grâce by using the much feared but skillfully avoided (why?) democratic option in a BINDING referendum- held in all 27 sovereign member states.

    And please refrain to undermine fair democratic processes through excuses, avoidance, step by step trickery; the many sponsored & rich individuals fronting as: “Founders” of Foundations, Open Societies, Think Tanks, “Democracy labs”, EU reputation managers and paid EU political lobbyists & blatant marketeers.

    Online Analytical Processing, AI & “Deep learning” are anyways crunching our comments and supplying enough feedback!

    Still not convinced? If undecided and afraid of 27 referenda, please shelf that idea for maybe a generation.

    Given time- most “things” work themselves out! No EU destructive political Blitzkrieg!

  30. Veto

    Better for Europeans.
    Just to protect them from US bullying

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      By ‘go’ you mean die/expire/terminate of course!

  31. Nicholas

    Seriously? Fix some major issues in the European Union and then think of a United Republic. One issue is unifying all the salaries, taxes, prices of goods all over the Eurozone and then go for the next level of unification forms. E.U. will be demolished in few years. Brexit is just the beginning!

    • Alex

      More centralization (unity) would actually allow the Europe to tackle these problems more effectively because it would be harder to gridlock the whole decision making process by any one state.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      The unification you speak of equates to COMMUNISM!

  32. Rebecca Langer

    Yes – as we can see and feel in so many countries we need the european republic

    • Fred

      Ruled by Germany then

  33. Koenraad

    Absolutely yes. We don’t need national governments fighting like medieval warlords to keep their power and put the whole continent back.

  34. Cristian

    we are allready in a federal form , the only difference from what USA and EU has is the thing that countries have some what a better connection as a diplomatic level. It will never work because in the end we will still keep the “national boundries” relating them to language . 1/2 languages is to be imposed . Wichone will it be . Most of europeans know english …brexit might actually happen ..and then what ? French and German as international language ? :D

    • Riccardo

      Or luxemburgish?

    • Cristian

      It is a problem as we have at least 10 major different languages. Which one should be used ?

    • Alex

      We could use Esperanto as en administrative language. Its easy to learn. From there just wait for it to spread.

    • Cristian

      It will be pretty hard to make 741 milion people learn another language just because it is easy . I think we are fine the way we are

    • Paul X

      I’ve no doubt following Brexit the French will kick off demanding their language is adopted, lets face it their nationalistic self importance is the reason behind the Strasbourg/Brussels travelling circus debacle, I’m sure they have no qualms demanding billions more of taxpayers money be wasted converting everything to French….but at the end of the day English is the language of international business, so if the EU chooses to pander to Gallic pride rather than common sense then they will only have themselves to blame

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      Esperanto is an artificial language. It is dehumanising!

  35. Moshe

    What should be the spoken language? The more unity there will be the weaker Europe will become because internally there is a lot of lack of collaboration. The so called confederate states had their own civil war before forming today’s united States…

    • Quint


    • Bruno

      Latin. There are cases, by the way, where so-called dead languages were re-invigorated to become the official idiom of a new: Hebrew in Israel.

    • Moshe

      I am saying that even under same language Americans had their war before forming… So what if there is no common language… Agreed on… Not to speak about approach to governing the people.

    • Alex

      I think perhaps Esperanto for the west as an administrative language for the ‘federal’ institutions. This would also make it spread over time as knowing the language gives people an advantage on the job market. Its easy to learn too.
      If a similar construct could be made for eastern European languages, we’d have already reduced the languages by a lot.

    • Paul X

      English is the language of global business, the EU is free to adopt a centralist policy and force people to learn Esperanto, but don’t expect to be able to communicate with the rest of the world using it

  36. Fred

    Now you know why Britain voted out.

    • Alex

      Because they were under the delusion that they could turn back the clock and allowed stupidity and fear to cloud rationality.

    • Fred

      Hope you will enjoy being in the Republic run by Germany . Didn’t work out so good the last time did it ?

    • Fred

      Bollocks Harald

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      The GDP/capita of EU nations with monarchies is higher than the rest – do the math.
      Republican EU nations tend to be more corrupt than EU monarchist nations – refer to the TI annual report for evidence.

  37. Tom

    As the countries within the EU are too different, the result of Federalism will be inconsistency, very complicate, time-consuming and extremely expensive!

    • Marcus

      But it may be worth it in the long run.
      The individual European countries have less and less to say on the world stage and may not have the weight to tackle large corporations on their own (for long).
      Yes, it would be expensive and time-consuming, but almost everything is. The question is, is the time and other resources spent effectively?
      And I think it will be, as I said, in the long run.

    • Tom

      Marcus, we did all have dreams, and this is ok, but the truth is far away from it. A Federalism should stay on REAL democracy, which we don’t have, it should stay on cooperative establishments – which is absolutely impossible, as long you do have different causes and different interests! The world is not ruled by state forms – the world is ruled by lobbyists – which arises out of the capitalistic-system!

  38. Christian

    I personnally agree with the idea of integration, and why not as a Republic ? Many of the questions being asked in other posts are the same that people living in smaller entities (e.g. Burgundy) could have asked hundreds of years ago, and they ended up melted in countries much bigger than theirs that nobody questions now.
    Our history is that of a slow integration and when it stops or rolls back, in usually ends up in blood, for the simple reason that we share a common and relatively small and continuous territory (except the Brits), in which, as a result, borders are in many ways arbitrary and questionnable.
    And to the question «what for ?» I’ve read somewhere… Well, because together we are stronger, especially when you have to deal in the long run, culturally, economically and -let’s hope it never happens- militarilly with entities with 1.5bn inhabitants, or that have sole agressivity against us and our share values.
    So yes, let’s make Europe stronger giving it more democratic strength, but not forgetting that we need time to have the majority of Europeans convinced.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      The EU cannot compete with China now.
      Soon the EU will not be able to compete with India.

      In the long run, the EU will not be able to compete with Africa.

      The EU is too small to compete, to divided to compete, too feeble to compete.

      The EU children of today will die as 2nd-tier world citizens in 70-90 years time..

  39. Nina

    Jesus Christ, how thick are you people? A Republic run by Germany, Merkel and a bunch of Liberal snowflakes, no thanks.

  40. Konraat

    Would you give up your own identity for existing solemly as a member and part of a group or organization?

    • Marcus

      Consider this…
      Sputnik News is a news network run by the Russian government and has been shown to spread, not just twisted truths, but outright lies.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      Great article, thank you.

  41. Alex

    Yes. The structure would need a serious update so that its more self reliant and somewhat more democratic (only somewhat tho), but a more united Europe would make us all the stronger on the world stage for it. Really tired of being a geopolitical dwarf.

  42. Peter

    Yes! I support the transformation of the European Union, from it’s current system of a union of national states to a union of and for the European people! By the way http://www.volteuropa.org is a new Pan- and Pro-European political party which drives in this direction.

  43. catherine benning

    Would you support the EU becoming a ‘European Republic’?

    I laughed out loud when I read this on here today.

    What a really humorous question and straight after Israel won the ‘European’ song contest. What a farce!

    This question presents close to something out of a ‘Mid Summer Nights Dream.’ How deranged the entire EU project has become. Any and all people still tied to this damage control must ask themselves if they truly want to be associated with the gutter it has become. A Republic? Do you know what the word means? I can see Netanyahu your future ‘appointed’ President. ‘Sweet Jesus have mercy.’ I bet he can see himself as future EU President as well.


    So pleased British people have not completely lost their senses.

  44. Marcus

    Aren’t we in reality not already there? Most people just live in denial. The few things that are still missing seem to be not enough to not make the EU true country. What we have is people trying to pretend it is not, searching for words when they really cannot help but say ‘this country’.

  45. Karolina

    Yes, I would.

    I somehow feel that British comments on this thread are inappropriate.

    • catherine benning

      Would you support the EU becoming a ‘European Republic’?

      To enable those worried about ‘British’ comments being inappropriate on this matter. As I am one of the ‘British’ posters here who wrote, do you know what a Republic means? Here is an explanation for those who find it difficult to follow that question and why I wrote as I did.

      We British are such a fly in the ointment of unity. Tsk Tsk.


  46. ironworker

    “Republic”…? You hit the pipe and now chasing dragons… You are barely keeping 20 something bunch stuck with duct tape in the so-called “Union”, and now you want a “republic”? Wake up, it will never happen. Too many inescapable differences.

  47. catherine benning

    As an addendum to the idea of supporting a European Republic, has this question been offered to the Swedish and Danish people. If not, what is it the rest of the 27 EU countries citizens are not being told?

    Here is a surprise for all who read here. Why are we not being advised on this matter? I am very worried. Are we going to war and if so, with whom?


    And for fodder.


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