A Speech at the 75th  Anniversary of the Montreux Declaration

By Guido Montani

In August 1947, almost on the same day, the Union of European Federalists (UEF) and the World Movement for World Federal Government (today WFM) met in Montreux. It is not clear why this temporal coincidence occurred, but it is clear why the two movements decided to act separately, with separate organizations. In 1946 Winston Churchill told at Fulton that “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent”. In the same year George Marshall launched the proposal for an aid plan to ensure “political stability and peace” for Europe. The onset of the Cold War showed that the atomic threat was a real threat to the future of humanity. The world federalists were right in proclaiming that: “mankind can be free itself forever from war only through the establishment of a world federal government”. The European federalists were right in arguing that the Marshal Plan laid the foundations for the federal unification of Europe, at least of its Western part.

Today, in the 21st century, the situation has completely changed. The future of humanity is still threatened by a possible atomic war, but a second threat is added to this danger: the environmental crisis. Climate change and biodiversity loss are showing that an irreversible crisis of the biosphere is fast approaching, the consequences of which are quite comparable to a nuclear war on a global scale. What we, European and World federalists, can do to deal with these emergencies?

To answer this question, it is necessary to keep in mind the difference between the two threats. Nuclear weapons are the indispensable tool for states that intend to assert their power in international competition. The Soviet Union collapsed Thirty years ago and now a multilateral system of great powers fighting for world supremacy is forming. Emerging powers such as China, India and Brazil are forcing the old powers, the United States and Russia, to compete: arms expenditure is rising rapidly from year to year. Modern conventional armaments (with AI) and nuclear weapons indicate that governments divide humanity into friend and foe.

The threat of a global environmental crisis is different. The European Union has approved the European Green Deal, a serious plan to achieve ecological neutrality by 2050. But the European Union pollutes only 8% of the world total. If this plan succeeds, it will not save the world if the other powers do not do the same; and it will not save European citizens either. What is true for the EU is true for all national peoples. Humanity will not be saved unless a globally agreed plan is implemented. The nuclear threat divides humanity; the ecological threat forces it to seek a common solution.

For this reason, I think that in this solemn meeting in the European Parliament, the first supranational parliament in history, the European federalists and the world federalists must do the opposite of what the federalists did in 1947: join forces for a common strategy that force national governments, all over the world, to avoid the accidental suicide of the human species. We must save life on the planet and save future generations. The proposal that seems reasonable to me is a Global Green Deal. The national divisions have shown the continuing failures of the United Nations and the annual COPs failures, the latter of which ended without any relevant decision in Sharm El-Sheik.

Finally, I further specify my proposal. A strategic union of European federalists and world federalists is needed: therefore a “Union of Federalists”. Strategic union does not mean organizational union. We have the UEF and we have the WFM who have an important history behind them and which must be engaged on different fronts. But it is possible to initiate a joint action, with those – I am particularly thinking of young people – who want to act for a Global Green Deal, so that at the next COP28 in Dubai, we can have a first common proposal to shake the apathy of national governments and restore strength to the United Nations.