Posted by: bklunk | April 29, 2007

Echoes of the Past

This is reminiscent of the ideas of David Mitrany a British scholar who over 60 years ago argued that if states would just concentrate on cooperating on matters of mutual concern, the constitutional issues would take care of themselves.  Check Tony Blair’s nightstand to see if he has a copy of A Working Peace System.

UK questions EU « Who Cares About International Relations?

Tony Blair announces his desire to have a less “abstract” EU and have one that focus more on the needs of European citizens. ( Click Here) Even though Tony Blair will soon retire, his announcements have been backed by the Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenend. He states that the EU has been focusing too much constitutional debate. This constitution which was already rejected by two countries in 2005, and only 16 of the 27 members states fully adopting them. But with out the full 27 countries adopting the constitution it cannot have any authority.

When reading this article on the EU and its members states (Britain) questioning its authority and decision, it shows how sometimes cooperation does not work. But this is not so much an argument of relative gains but of inefficiency as the EU wants to first establish itself permanently with a “European Constitution” in which is hard to do. This is because if states were to adopt such constitution they would have to give up some of their sovereignty and power within their own states. What Britain wants for for the EU to not focus so much on the constitution but to focus on making the European citizens trust the EU and believe in it, as seen when it battle the “bread-and-butter” issues. By having the peoples trust and showing the benefits to being united under the EU, there will be more successes for decisions. Since the constitution brings about too many controversial issues, it only shows the problems of the EU thus far, and so when Britain addressed this, they wanted things to change for the better of the EU but more so for the better of Europe.

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Responses

  1. I think Tony Blair is right on in recommending that the EU get to work on things that will help the people of Europe and leave the issue of the unratified constitution alone for awhile. The EU is still in its early stages and there is much work to be done to make it as strong and beneficial to the member countries as possible. There is no reason why the constitution is the most important issue at hand, because, in fact, it is not. If the countries start to reap some of the benefits the EU could give them, they would be much more apt to give up some of their sovereignty and sign onto the constitution. It seems a much more logical route to go that way instead of arguing over mundane points of the document itself.

  2. I would also like to add that this shows similar patterns to when the United States was trying to ratify its own constitution as well. It needed all states to ratify it and it did, but only after much considerations from different states. Through the need for unity and to increase cooperation of trade, the states saw that a constitution was needed first, before there were any benefits to an overall United States citizen, since individual states were already taking care of them. I see that the EU is trying to do the same thing, in establishing it self first, it will be able to contribute more to focusing on the “European Citizen.” But how United States operates, there must be a clear line of state power and federal govt. power. Though the EU won’t – will not yet- be operating as a government over Europe, it should of course consider moving a lot of power to states rather than doing everything they can to protect citizens. As we all know, federalism is a good thing in the US, it opens up doors for experimentation and the successes of policies as citizens from different areas have different views. Like wise, citizens from italy will differ from citizens from Germany and thus, these states must operate by themselves on their area.

  3. The European Union is still a fairly new establishment that still has many “kinks” to work out within it’s own operation. However do not get me wrong, no country is perfect or always stable, but the EU has a long way to go. Unlike the United States, they are not as established. While it is important to have a constitution, or national document that binds the country together, at this point I too agree with the idea that it is not the most important thing to work on at the moment. Establishing individual states and the European Citizen might be more beneficial in the long run. Ensuring that the individual countries are satisfied and successful with their own policies may help a constitution to be later established. But for the time being, I think that putting forth all focus to a unifying constitution would not be the most important issue.

  4. The Economist stated that the rejection of the EU Constitution seemed to indicate that members of the EU are against a complete integration. Instead, they would rather see a looser EU where they can maintain their sense of national identity, rather than have choices that they abhor imposed on them from above. Based on the analysis, I agree with Tony Blair’s conclusion that the European Union should focus more the on the citizens. If the EU can gain the trust of the citizens, they possibly may gain the votes for the EU Constitution. However, the EU should continue to promote the Constitution as it also could assist in creating more citizen rights.
    To support Prime Minister Blair’s argument, I believe that it is premature for the EU to try to launch into gaining consensus for the EU Constitution. It was only in 2000 that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights was proclaimed, and it the first formal EU document to combine and declare all the values and fundamental rights (economic and social as well as civil and political) to which EU citizens should be entitled. The EU should promote further legislation, specifically related to the recognized problem of discrimination against Muslims, before advocating for the EU Constitution.
    My argument for the EU Constitution is that it will harmonize the Value Added Tax (VAT), which is a tax on the estimated market value added to a product or material at each stage of its manufacture or distribution, ultimately passed on to the consumer. For example, Denmark has one of the highest VAT (25 %) in the EU. Therefore, has the ability to a significant amount of the tax revenues for welfare, benefiting the needs of citizens. On the other hand, Italy’s VAT is only 20 %, which leads to a lower contribution of tax revenues to welfare.
    Overall, I agree that the citizens’ concerns should be the focus of the EU, instead of the EU Constitution. On the other hand, I advocate that the EU should promote citizen’s rights in an attempt to foster support for the EU in upcoming years.

  5. I agree with what seems to be said here: that Blair was right in making the E.U. concrete first (though I thought he had mostly been referring to the Euro—which, in turn would make the E.U. more concrete). In any case, when individual countries come into being, it is reasonable to draft a constitution. However, this constitution needs to work within the bounds of existing norms, and so it may need to take its time. There are several important decisions for the E.U. in the near future—especially regarding Turkey, and not to mention that the French Election will happen shortly. It’s also important to remember that, in efforts for ratification of the EU Constitution, wide support was demonstrated, and that support will probably not reverse. At this point in time, the EU (in earnest) is young enough that some consensus building may need to happen—that’s my take.

  6. I believe that the E.U. will not be able to ratify a constitution by all member states any time soon. The E.U. is relatively new and countries have agreed to come together and allow free trade and movement across borders as well as having the same currency. However, this is very different from having a constitution to govern them all. These countries have been around such a long time that I don’t think it will happen unless absolutely necessary to protect them all. They are too fixed in their ways and have too much tradition to give up their sovereignty. They have a lot of national pride and a lot of history that I think will affect their ability to ratify a constitution. The United States was very young in its history when it became a nation so the states were not as fixed in their ways. Even so, they still had trouble getting a Constitution ratified. There are too many countries in the E.U. with differences to have them all agree on this.

  7. […] Description: Here I briefly summarize an article on BBC news, and gave my own view on why the EU was questioned. I went over why this NGO is having a hard time trying to unite Europe and help the “European Citizen.” I also responded back to the many comments left by other bloggers. (click here) […]

  8. II think that this article highlights a very important issue surrounding the EU and its development. Should the constitution be a set of goals and standards that the EU aspires to or should it be more of a description of standards and goals already in place? Ideally it is a combination of both as each state has the ability to reject it. The development of the constitution is undoubtedly an important task but by over-relating to it at this defining stage it passes up key opportunities to further define itself by its action. It may be that through working together in its member states the EU could come to a more common understanding of its essential goals and standards. I do not think that completely neglecting the development of the constitution would be beneficial. Rather if a more balanced approach is taken, then the EU’s actions on within the continent could help further the development of the constitution.

  9. II think that this article highlights a very important issue surrounding the EU and its development. Should the constitution be a set of goals and standards that the EU aspires to or should it be more of a description of standards and goals already in place? Ideally it is a combination of both as each state has the ability to reject it. The development of the constitution is undoubtedly an important task but by over-relating to it at this defining stage the EU passes up key opportunities to further define itself by its action. It may be that through working together in its member states the EU could come to a more common understanding of its essential goals and standards. I do not think that completely neglecting the development of the constitution would be beneficial. Rather if a more balanced approach is taken, then the EU’s actions within the continent could help further the development of the constitution.

  10. The EU is ILLEGAL Blair and co know this too!

    English Bill of Rights 1689
    An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/england.asp

    No Foreign Prince or Prelate- etc etc!

    Dream on….the nightmare will come!


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