May 8, 2013
A fully fledged federal Europe may seem like "political science fiction" today but will soon become reality for all European Union countries whether inside or outside the euro, Jose Manuel Barroso has said.
The president of the European Commission has fanned the flames of British debate over EU membership by insisting that fiscal union in the eurozone will lead to "intensified political union" for all 27 member states.
"This is about the economic and monetary union but for the EU as a whole," he said.
"The commission will, therefore, set out its views and explicit ideas for treaty change in order for them to be debated before the European elections."
"We want to put all the elements on the table, in a clear and consistent way, even if some of them may sound like political science fiction today. They will be reality in a few years' time."
Mr Barroso's announcement that he will set out plans for a European federation next spring, before elections to the European Parliament in May 2014, will further deepen Conservative divisions over the EU.
The intervention will add weight to the argument made by Lord Lawson, and other anti-EU Tories, that it is pointless to try and improve Britain's membership terms when the dynamic, set by the eurozone, is towards a fully-fledged federal Europe.
The commission president's argument is that as the eurozone adopts federalist structures on fiscal and economic policy, supported by Britain as necessary for financial stability, there will also be a need for political structures that will fundamentally change the way the EU works.
"Further economic integration would transcend the limits of the intergovernmental method of running the EU and the eurozone in particular," Mr Barroso said.