Draft Constitution

by Henry Farrell on June 18, 2004

Sounds as if agreement has been reached on a draft EU constitution. That was the easy part – now they have to steer it through referendums in the UK and elsewhere. No agreement, however on a new Commission President. More on this as proper news starts to leak out …

{ 1 comment }


Bob 06.21.04 at 2:03 pm

It has been an immensely instructive experience contributing to online debates about the Euro and the European Union on various boards for nearly eight years now. Unfortunately, the benefits for my part have often been negative and I can no longer believe that to be accidental.

Going back to the early debates on Britain joining the Euro c. 1997, it was then suggested by the head of a leading UK polling agency that the way to win the promised referendum on the Euro was the same way the 1975 referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Community (as then) had been won. As claimed, that was by painting all opposition as “wild men with staring eyes”.

Exactly that same disreputable tactic is being applied here and now in various threads. Doubtless, there will be more to come. For the record here, I campaigned in the 1975 referendum for Britain’s continued membership of the EC. When Tony Blair first stood for Parliament at the Beaconsfield byelection in 1982, his personal manifesto included his commitment to negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the EC and that despite the outcome of the 1975 referendum when 64.5% voted in favour of staying in the EC.

The EU may or may not need a Constitution because of enlargement but the argument for a Constitution does not entail supporting this particular Constitution and I can still say that while admiring and saluting the way the Irish presidency of the EU conducted the negotiations and debate. Surprising though it may seem to some, xenophobia is not the only reason for opposing the Constitution as agreed at the IGC.

Consider this from Dr Iain Coleman posting here: “The big problem about all this stuff, at least in the UK, is that the whole debate is framed as one of being pro or anti EU. That’s just daft. The Liberal Democrats want to see significant reforms to EU governance: that doesn’t make them anti-EU.”

Sadly, that is a delusion. A significant chunk of the political classes in the pre-enlarged EU subscribes to a completely different set of ideologies from those prevailing in Britain and that chunk aspires to creating a completely different economic model for Europe – “dirigisme” is the name of the game. It is plainly dishonest to pretend otherwise or to try to cover this up.

The vital clue comes from a widely reported comment in 1996 of Phillippe Maystadt, then the Belgian Finance Minister: “The purpose of the single currency [the Euro] is to prevent the encroachment of Anglo-Saxon values in Europe.”

Another clue and from the recent IGC: “An irate President Jacques Chirac of France last night rounded on Tony Blair for thwarting the ambitions of the EU to appease Eurosceptic opinion in Britain. ‘The ambitions foreseen [for the constitution] are reduced, especially on tax and social security, by the clear position of the United Kingdom. This will be a real problem,’ he said.” – from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0,7369,1241774,00.html

The hurdle ahead for Britain is that “under the constitution, the 12 countries that are part of the single currency could decide to axe the national veto on tax issues. If Britain later wanted to opt into the currency, it would then have to accept the rules, including majority voting on tax.” – from: http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=533357

An insight into the different tax imposts in Europe can found here: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/6/63/1962227.pdf

By all means, let us have the reality and not the myths.

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