Monday, May 26, 2003
All Eyes on the Constitution - 26th May 2003, 12.17

James C Bennett provided an excellent column on the perverse arguments of the Europhiles for signing up to the new Constitution. Even if one does not agree wholeheartedly with his alternative, the Anglosphere, it is, at least, an energetic attempt to redefine the goals of British foreign policy and combat the intellectual monopoly of European transnationalism. Best putdown:

Disposing of such lesser objections, we must turn to a remarkable piece by the intelligent but deeply misguided Mike Gonzalez of the Wall Street Journal Europe. In it, he trots out the argument that has been the mainstay of U.S. State Department-received wisdom for the past half-century: that Britain must immerse itself fully in the rapidly-congealing European superstate in order to reform it into a free-market entity, and to carry America's water in the councils of Europe.

This policy makes European membership Britain's new "White Man's Burden" -- carrying enlightenment to the "Lesser Breeds Without the Law." Well, some scholars have always held that Kipling intended that description to mean the Germans anyway, so perhaps there is a poetic justice in that theory.

This is the day when the draft of the European Union is published. The media coverage ranges from downright deceit at the BBC, where they appear incapable of reading a draft constitution that 'permits' nation states to retain their power:

The problem with EU documents like the constitution, however, is that they are designed precisely to allow everyone to interpret them the way they wish. For European federalists, it may indeed be presented as a blueprint for an eventual United States of Europe.
For the more nation-state minded, it can be presented as a clarification and simplification of the role of the EU.
And there's probably enough evidence to allow any shading of view along that line.

to a more factual overview at the Guardian and the FT. Now that it has been unveiled, the figleaf of federalism and the overt ambition of a United States of Europe have been dropped to assuage the concerns of the intergovernmental factions. If Blair spins this as a triumph of British diplomacy, one should take the statement as expedient opportunism. The excisions were designed to maintain unity within the Convention.

The Constitution retains a European Presidency and Foreign Minister. All member states have to "unreservedly" back a European foreign policy, which appears to indicate that further military actions like the Iraqi war could not take place. The Charter of Fundamental Rights is a binding element and all domestic policy is Europeanised. The Convention has stayed silent over the harmonisation of tax or social security but we can expect further pressue to concede on these points over the next few months.

The Tories immediately and unanimously condemned the document. Labour saw things differently:

Peter Hain, UK envoy to the convention, said: "We have achieved over the last few days a lot of the things which we thought we would but the Tories and their friends in the media said we would not."

Yes, we have managed to sell Britain down the river. Hurrah!


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