From Mr Hugo Lueders.

Sir, The “very federal formula” described by Quentin Peel (Analysis, February 10), is much more complex – historically and for the future – than Mr Peel had the opportunity to mention in his otherwise brilliant analysis.

With the 1914-18 centenary just two years ahead, the commemorations of the Great War will remind us not only of the terrible suffering but of Europe’s political plight and of the turn-of-the-century origins of modern European integration. Prominent scholars (such as Niall Ferguson in his critically acclaimed book The Pity of War, 1998) argue that something like a decentralised or even a multi-functional European Union could have emerged as early as 1914 or could have been established through a different type of peace process than that experienced by the world – and by mid-Europe in particular – between the years 1919 and 1923.

The Great War, its background and origins might still be a controversial theme, but there is no doubt – and this should not be omitted – that today’s European federal formula can be traced back to the first world war and its aftermath, with the inter-bellum trials such as the Briand 1929 European Union project or, post-1945, Churchill’s visions of a “with but not within” United States of Europe. European integration has come a long way and the federal vision, in whatever formula, will eventually unfold its social potential. Better to be on the inside to shape this formula than to stay outside and left alone.

Hugo Lueders, Brussels, Belgium

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