In the aftermath of WW2, in the midst of a deep ideological and political crisis, the Italian Constitution of 1948 was the first modern nation state constitution to make primacy of European law over national law a legal reality. In its Article 11 it establishes that Italy allows the limitations of sovereignty necessary for an order that ensures peace and justice among nations. The limitation of state sovereignty was a reversal of all the dominant conceptions of Western constitutionalism, and soon after, the new German Constitution followed the same path, and all the prospective EU Member States were asked to make this historical concession in order to gain access to the club.
The Italian Constitution of 1948 and all other European countries basic laws that followed, were a landmark milestone of the European integration movement, started over 80 years ago by citizens prosecuted by their own Countries. At the time, the solution was seen in ensuring overriding political and individual rights such as democracy, rule of law, personal freedoms, be protected and enhanced by a supranational entity, a European international organisation, which would later become the European Union, rather than leaving them up to national governments to regulate or butcher. In short, tame the absolute sovereignty of nation state with ever more pervasive international institutions. This seemed to work quite well for the next 80 years, guaranteeing political and legal integration, and economic development based on social capitalism.
Lately however, migration crisis, the emergence of authoritarian regimes in Asia and Eastern Europe, economic and monetary stagnation, a generational gap between fading boomers and whoever else came after them, public debt convulsions and even a once-in-a-100-years pandemic, all have shuttered the notions of European solidarity and welfare state to the core.
Young Europeans are poorer, with less perspectives, the best brains looking for opportunities elsewhere. Nationalism, xenophoby, anti-migration, even anti-vax movements, advance to reaffirm alternatives to the supranational model which had the best of this Continent (and Her Majesty isles as well :-) for over half a century.
The limitations of national sovereignty came from a very real need felt by European citizens to put limits to nation states. Today we see such limits resulted in intrusive legislation on personal freedoms, and the misapplication of the notion of subsidiarity, or let the EU deal only with that which cannot be dealt with by its Member States, resulted in a progressive centralisation of soft power into EU institutions.
The incorporation into EU law of the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, and the respect of national identity, referred to in Articles 4 and 6 of the European Treaty, have become notions progressively devoid of meaning, as EU law has slowly infiltrated national bureaucracies, pervaded constitutional practices, set the tone of the institutional, political and economic discourse.
This arrangement has proven itself appealing to boomers, most of whom had a distinctive memory of the post-WW2 environment and looked for a supranational framework to protect political rights and individual freedoms. The European framework has proven itself poor at protecting financial privacy, with ever pervasive regulations and lack of direct interactions between citizens and institutions, as EU agencies that really yield power are made of unelected officials, and the elected ones have mostly rubber-stamp functions.
So what should new generations aim for? A return to national sovereignty, as it happened in the UK? An ever closer union to which the European apparatus clings, with the rhetoric of "there is only misery outside of the EU" being more and more used, during the debt crisis, the Greek crisis, before and after Brexit, and as a fear monger to any dissenting view?
I think it is time for citizens to claim their right to direct democracy. Technology enabled, independent from and irrelevant to the political apparatus, the crypto movement, the cyberpunks, the theorists of voluntary jurisdictions, are working on alternatives to Bretton Woods, the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, but also to China, Russia and other (grown-up and baby) authoritarians.
Crypto has become an alternative economy. No KYC, own your own private money, own your keys. It is still half the size of gold, but catching up quickly, and catching fire in the process. Voluntary jurisdictions, i.e. organisations where citizens or members chose to partake in, or leave the jurisdiction as they please, the DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation) phenomenon are experimenting with new governance systems where vote happens when it is necessary, and organisations only live for as long as they are necessary. Is this the way of the future? It is early days to say, but I am comforted to see the brightest minds attracted to crypto, much more than to banks or international organisations.