Monday, May 30, 2005

United in diversity?

So France is voting on whether or not they like the brave new Euro-constitution. Actually, they may be voting on whether they like the people who are telling them that they should like it. And it's not really a constitution as such, so much as a constitutional treaty. But they are voting anyway.

Depending on who you believe, it's either a way of streamlining the EU to cope with more members and of giving more power to the people, or it's something that will make no difference at all, or it's the next step to the United States of Europe. It's too Anglo-saxon, and it's too French.

There has been a little debate in the UK - but this mostly consists of the usual suspects making apparently mutually contradictory claims. There is only a little heat, and practically no light. Nobody seems to have actually read the treaty - and it's no wonder! It's huge, and immensely tedious.

The US constitution, also produced by committee, is clear (at least until judicial activists got at it) and concise. It deals with individual liberties, and limits the powers of the state.

The EU constitution is less clear, and much, much less concise. It provides less accountability than the US document, and does too little to limit the institutions' powers. It ignores the mind-numbing bureaucracy, and the attendant corruption at the heart of the institutions. And it's still going to be a giant playground for lawyers.

And here's the thing - there is no need for it!

The most important streamlining of the EU has already happened. And the stuff in the constitution won't come into effect for ages.

Europe as a collection of nation states, cooperating where it makes sense, does not need a constitution - or anything called a constitution. Or any other trappings of state.

We don't want or need a corrupt European political has-been posing as the President of Europe, appointed following some back-room horse-trading by Europe's political elite.

And there is no point at all in a common Foreign Minister as long as Britain sides with the US almost automatically and France opposes them on principle, or while the nations dither on Darfur, and Europe is as divided as it clearly is. If the Minister's job is to make policy, whose policy will it be? And if it is to provide a single voice to the spout agreed communiques that paper over the chasms between the members' selfish interests, what's the use?

The great and the good of the EU have been telling us for some time that we need the constitution - that the sky will fall if it is rejected. What nonsense!

If France, the Netherlands, the UK, and other sceptical electorates tell the EU's managing elite that this constitution is not what we want or need, that is exactly the chance they need to go away and think again.

It looks like France has done just that! Now maybe we can get back to sensible cooperation, without the "Ever Closer Union" nonsense?

(And hopefully without US-sponsored patents on software, as demanded by one of the latest and nuttiest draft directives from the EU - but that's a whole other rant.)

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