The European Constitution. Round 2.
Posted by Exile on May 25, 2007
At the recent plenary sitting of the EU Parliament in Brussels, the debate turned to what should be the non-existence of a European constition. The constitution was voted out by both the Dutch and the French two years ago and should therefore have died then and there. The Euro-MP’s think differently. Determined to ram a constitution, which half of the total of Europeans are against, down our throats, the work continues. After two years of “reflection”, the EU is beginning the revival of the constitution. The debate was not concerned with the need to come up with something new. It was more concerned with how to get the European states to accept a constitution more by stealth than referendum. The main speaker was Dutch PM Jan Peter Balkenende. Here are a few extracts from the reports on the EU webside:
Future of Europe/European integration.
Reasons for the No vote.
First the reasons behind the No vote must be understood. One was the pace of change, for example enlargement. “We have to realise that the public needs time to get used to the EU in its new form. Things have changed quickly. Too quickly for some people’s tastes. We must allow time for a sense of solidarity to grow.” He went on to say “The question ‘Are you in favour of the Constitution for Europe?’ was taken to mean ‘Do you want the EU to assume the character of a state?’ or even ‘Should Europe eventually take the place of the national government?’ This was obviously a bridge too far.”
There were other reasons for the No vote. “Some believed Europe was making too many rules or doing things best left to the member states. Others accused Brussels of a lack of transparency. Concerns about the Dutch financial contribution was another important factor. Compounding the problem was the fact that people had no real sense of the specific benefits of the European partnership.”
All very true. We do not need a super state that can decide which laws are valid and which are not in each our own respective lands. That must be up to us in our own lands to decide in our own parliaments. Not in some far off bureaucracy where we have little or no influence on the debate. I can guarantee, that if the EU had it’s way, then the stringent laws on immigration in Denmark would be wiped off the pages of every law book we have.
I have no real sense of the specific benefits of the European partnership. There are none.
I voted no to the EU over 30 years ago in Britain. I was right to do so. The propaganda that brought us in told us that we would have cheaper and better goods in the shops. That we could streamline our agriculture and industry to produce only that which we were good at producing. We would easily be able to import the things that we did not produce ourselves from other member states, who were perhaps better at those products. In return they would buy ours.
It didn’t happen. Prices went up as taxation increased to subsibise farming and failing industries, not least in France, where agriculture is a national joke. the trend has continued since.
What then, of the future?
The way forward
Moving on to the Dutch government’s view of how the EU should proceed on the Constitution, he said the new treaty should have two main goals. “Firstly, we want an EU that operates more democratically. Secondly, we want an EU that can take decisions and act on them.”
This would mean focusing on four key points. Firstly, a more gradual approach: “the Netherlands is in favour of a more traditional document, in the same vein as the Treaties of Amsterdam or Nice. We need to continue with the Monnet method: moving ahead via small, but significant increments. This approach throws a spotlight on the improvements, the democratic safeguards and the increased effectiveness”.
Secondly, “a more robust subsidiarity test, with an important role for national parliaments”. The institutional proposals made in the Constitutional Treaty were a step in the right direction. But there was still room for improvement. “National parliaments must play a more integral part in assessing whether proposed EU legislation conforms to the subsidiarity principle. If a majority of national parliaments are opposed to a given proposal, there must be consequences.”
Thirdly, to be more effective the EU needs more qualified majority voting. But “we must recognise that countries are afraid to relinquish their vetoes, afraid that the EU will extend its competences by stealth. On this point we must be clear. The Union can become more effective only if it has public support.”
Fourthly, “enlargement criteria should be included in the new Treaty”. He stressed that “In the Netherlands there is a perception that the Union does not take its own rules seriously. The criteria are in place, but some would say they are not strictly applied. This erodes public support for the EU. These criteria should therefore be included the new Treaty.”
“We need to continue with the Monnet method: moving ahead via small, but significant increments.”
That one single sentence would have been lost in the noise of the debate. But it gives a hint as to the coming tactics of the EU. What they could not get us to swallow in one huge mouthfull, will be sneaked in through the back door and made law in the EU. This will be done by making small changes to EU legislation and we will not even notice them. The debate is too far away. Once these things are in place, they need not be mentioned in the constitutional document. Remove the offending text and the document is then palletable for all.
Referendum? What’s the point? It won’t be necesary. Others have seen this too.
For the Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty group, Philip CLAEYS (BE) said that “Dutch voters clearly spoke out against the Constitutional Treaty” and added that “I hope that the voters will be given the opportunity to speak out not just in the Netherlands but in all Member States.” Mr Claeys added that one the key issues to be addressed is “not just the institutional question” but “the fundamental question of what the borders of Europe should be.” In particular, “whether or not a country such as Turkey should be allowed to accede.”
Mr Claeys concluded by saying that “we seem to be acting here in Europe as if there’s nothing going on” and yet “we cannot accept the threats and the arrogance that is being expressed in this respect.”
“One has to ask how much energy has been wasted on chasing the moonbeams of a European constitution?” asked Jim ALLISTER (UK), speaking for the Non-attached Members. “Part of the reason why the EU institutions are stuck in this rut”, Mr Allister continued, “is because of the refusal to take a democratic ‘No’ for an answer.” The debates taking place are “dominated…with demands for strategies to avoid letting the citizens have their say.”
Mr Allister spoke of “that which imposes the apparatus of statehood upon the EU” as “the same old tired and tarnished product, already rejected, and upon which citizens must have their say.”
Read that again here:
“Dutch voters clearly spoke out against the Constitutional Treaty”
“…that which imposes the apparatus of statehood upon the EU [is]the same old tired and tarnished product, already rejected, and upon which citizens must have their say.”
“Part of the reason why the EU institutions are stuck in this rut is because of the refusal to take a democratic ‘No’ for an answer.”
Thankfully, these two gentlemen seem to have grasped the seiousness of this. However, I feel they are in the minority, and I fear that the majority will not consider their fears.
Or yours, for that matter.