Skip to comments.Are we fools led by liars? (THE EU CONSTITUTION EXPLAINED)
Posted on 02/27/2005 3:42:43 PM PST by MadIvan
The EU constitution makes tough reading, but its meaning - and its danger - couldn't be clearer
WHOS GOT it right? The German Minister for Europe, Hans Martin Bury, or the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Jack Straw? Last week Herr Bury told the Bundestag that the constitution of the European Union is more than a milestone, it is the birth certificate of the United States of Europe. Last month Mr Straw said that the constitution treaty signalled thus far and no further on European integration. Is the treaty a boundary marker for European integration or is it a birth certificate for a single European state bound by one European constitution, to use the language of the German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer?
One may doubt how many people have yet read the constitution. Since the early phases of drafting, I have been reading it and re-reading it. In this process Ive kept in touch with David Heathcote-Amory, the Conservative MP for Wells, who was a member of the convention on the EU constitution. I hope everyone will read the treaty, though they may not find it much fun.
The treaty is indeed complex. If the convention had followed the example of the framers of the American Constitution, it might have produced a skeleton constitution. Unfortunately, the constitution includes quantities of material of a quite unsuitable kind, in an apparent attempt to dictate not only the structure but the long-term political objectives of the European Union.
For instance, Title 1 includes a statement of objectives which would be better suited to a party manifesto than to a constitutional document. Article 3 reads: The Union shall work for sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and with a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. It shall promote scientific and technological advance.
We have to take this seriously, but these aspirations are neither defined nor justiciable. Suppose they were brought in front of the European Court of Justice, on the complaint that the European institutions were failing to achieve these objectives.
What is sustainable development? How can Europe achieve balanced economic growth? What does balanced mean in that context? Is economic growth desirable in all circumstances? What is a social market? In what ways does it differ from an ordinary market economy? Can a social market economy be highly competitive, or will its social character be a hindrance to its competitiveness? What is the appropriate level of full employment? Is it 3 per cent unemployment, as Lord Beveridge once suggested? Is it the 10 per cent which is the current German level? What is social progress? Can it be measured by income differentials? Or by educational standards? Might there not be a conflict between social progress and economic growth? How does one measure the improvement of the quality of the environment? Indeed, what is the quality of the environment? How should Europe promote scientific and technological advance? By subsidies? How would they fit in with fair competition?
Whenever one dips into the constitution one is liable to sink into a bog of unexamined propositions. I cannot think of any document of comparable historic importance which raises so many questions or answers so few. As an American scholar has observed, the European constitution, if it were American, would raise numerous Supreme Court cases in every paragraph.
Nevertheless, the constitution does two things which do allow one to answer the question: boundary stone or birth certificate? It creates a state. Article 11: The constitution establishes the European Union. Article 15a: The constitution . . . shall have primacy over the law of the member states. Article 18: Every national of a member state shall be a citizen of the union.
This new state will have broad and predominant powers, with ministers to execute those powers. Article 111: The member states shall co-ordinate their economic and employment policies within arrangements as determined by Part 3, which the union shall have competence (power) to provide . . . the union shall have competence to define and implement a common foreign and security policy, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy.
The EU is already proceeding step by step to the establishment of this common foreign and security policy. Nato is being downgraded; a European diplomatic service is being developed; the constitution provides for a Foreign Minister. The whole European structure has been built by general aspirations backed by creeping bureaucracy. The common foreign and defence policy is likely to become a fait accompli.
I sometimes think that Britain has a Government which takes us all for fools. There may be a case for a United States of Europe. Many continental Europeans believe in that; most Germans, for instance, see a single European state as a natural development, similar to the creation of a united Germany in the 1870s. Britain, as Franz-Josef Strauss used to say, should have the status in a United Europe which Bavaria has in the Federal Republic. Bavaria, he would add, does not feel any need for a separate air force. Some Germans differ. One recently commented to me: What is the problem for which the European Union is the solution?
We could have a useful debate on these issues. Is it Europes destiny to become a superstate? Is the age of British independence at an end? Can we protect democracy and the rule of law in a fully united Europe? That would be an honest and historic debate. But it cannot be an honest debate so long as the Government pretends that the European constitution is anything other than a constitution for the United States of Europe. The Germans are telling the truth. So long as our Government takes us for fools, we have every reason to take them for liars.
To ask is to answer.
(Well, close enough)
When bureaucrats write constitutions, who do you think will be the prime beneficiaries?
I have said from DAY ONE that the EU is destined for failure due to its burdensome complexity.
The reason why the US is so successful is due to the simplicity of our founding documents.
Free citizens, open markets, property rights, limited gov't, etc.
I entirely agree. The strength of the American constitution is in its transparency and relevance. This is just a bunch of bureaucratic gobbledygook, filled with mindless platitudes and burdensome language.
I can not believe that so few people have even bothered to read something that is so important to their futures.
The author is entirely correct; this "constitution" is not one in the same sense as our American Constitution.
I would like to think that if Europeans were to read this document, it would have a difficult time passing. But Spain certainly showed that there was an easy acceptance among the few who did bother to vote on accepting this document, so it appears that no such difficulty exists.
MadIvan, Britain Must stop the E.U. constitution.
What the tory position?
One thing that was alarming from the Spanish vote on this subject was how few people had read it. They signed their country up for it without knowing its content or its true implications.
The Tories are opposed to the EU Constitution - if they win the election in May (unlikely, but still), then it would be a Tory Government campaigning for a "No" vote.
The Spanish minister for Europe was heard saying that the spanish people did not need to read it to know it was good.
I was very worried about the EU as a counter-weight to the USA, fiscally, economically, diplomatically etc., however, realizing that France and Germany are the "founders" of this hybrid mutt, I relaxed with a cool one.
When was the last time France and Germany shared a good idea?
See why I am not perturbed?
It was composed by a former President of France who left office under the shadow of a scandal in which he accepted diamonds from a megalomaniacal dictator in Africa whose hobby was eating schoolchildren. That should say, unread, that it's not worth the paper it's printed on.
Yeah, Mr. D'estang
Well you should be worried just for this reason - America needs to export its goods to someone. The French and Germans having their heads up their rectal cavities means much of Europe is too bloody broke to buy American goods.
Inside the Beltway, NRO,The Weekly Standard, The Heritage Foundaiton and AEI are squarely against the E.U. consitution and have been activily lobbying the Bush administration. Eurosceptics should reach out across the Atlantic as well.
I don't think President Bush is in much of a position to assist - if he tries to sabotage the EU Constitution, the French and Germans will accuse him of meddling. He knows full well it will collapse anyway.
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