Friday, January 28, 2005

Treacle grinding

OK, back to normal workaday politics.

The European Constitution Referendum. Well, the question has been put:
Should the United Kingdom approve the treaty establishing a constitution for the European Union?
Well, there you have it. Many commentators have noted what a nice neutral question it is. Looking at it, I'd not that it avoids many constructions implying the UK adopting the constitution, or making itself subject. It asks not for adoption, but approval of ratification of the treaty. Further, it notes that the constitution is for the EU, not for Britain. At least in part, there is an attempt at dampening the issue, here.

The Constitution itself is turgid, excerpts are here - most significant is the injunction to comply with military co-operation and building the military capacity of the Union. That may cause a problem constitutionally for the Irish, who are committed to neutrality. At least it specifically states, though, that
...the member states confer competences [on the EU] to attain objectives they have in common. The Union shall co-ordinate the policies by which the member states aim to achieve these objectives, and shall exercise in the Community way the competences they confer on it.
unlike the US constitution, it clearly states that the EU bodies shall only have the power constitutionally enumerated.

This is not a receipe for a centralised federation, but a continued hodge-podging of different nation states with conflicting aims. It is remarkable that thus far the wheels haven't fallen off, but as it stands, there's more chance of that, especially if Britain rejects the constitution - which may well happen.

Truth be told, it is building unity from the top up, it is aligning the elites of Europe through common structures and social netwroks required to oeprate the giant bureaucracy, it is not the establishment of a true freedom of association from the bottom up, that will lead to the only true way of overcoming national divisioions. As with the former Yugoslavia, top down unity has the problem that if the elites fall upon one another, they drag everyone else into the fight.


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