Monday, 4 June 2007

Generosity and stealth

Thanks to the generosity of the EU Law Blog, a worthwhile acquaintance in its own right, I found EUlawblogger, who has written on EU treaty change. (I have added both blogs to my links.)

Yesterday, I presented and commented on EUlawblogger’s “Picking the cherries”, which is well woth reading even if you don’t share all the views.

Today, I am going to point out “The Constitutional Treaty: Open Europe, please tell the truth”, 8 May 2007, where EUlawblogger analysed the shortcomings of “The New Treaty: What will it mean and do we need a referendum?”, by Open Europe.

Please, read and compare.

Incidentally, I covered the same ‘research report’ in “Spoilsports” on 27 May 2007, on a more general level, wondering at the (untold) assumptions that could explain such vilification: is it really an ethical position to be member of a union only to maximise one’s chances to fly solo, to obstruct progress and to sabotage decision-making? Or is the purpose of Open Europe to beat a retreat behind the moat and to restart an era of “splendid isolation”?

Back to EUlawblogger, who wrote: there is no justification for trying to bring back the vast bulk of the Constitutional Treaty by stealth, and it would be preferable to focus instead on going forward with only those provisions of the Constitutional Treaty which connect the EU more closely to its citizens.

By stealth? I find the perspective and the choice of words odd. The negotiations on a ‘simplified treaty’ are going to be closely watched all over Europe, in spite of their secretive, inter-governmental character (whereas the Convention was a lot more open to citizens). The end-result, at least, is going to be in the public domain, open to public debate and parliamentary scrutiny.

Officially, the UK government has been tight-lipped, but at the same time the “red lines” floated more or less point to wholesale scrapping of a treaty signed by 27 member states, ratified by 18 of them and supported by two more.

Wouldn’t it have been more to the point to scrutinise the ‘good faith’ of the British government? Perhaps the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Article 18 Obligation not to defeat the object and purpose of a treaty prior to its entry into force, could have been a more meaningful point of reference on the obligations of a ‘civilised nation’(?).

Who, if any, seems to act by stealth? How do these actions connect the EU more closely to its citizens?

Part II of the Constitutional Treaty, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Union, is dedicated to rights, freedoms and principles aimed at putting the citizens of the Union at the centre of European integration. How would scrapping the Charter connect the European Union more closely to its citizens?

How does a Union paralysed by vetoes serve the interests of its citizens?

A ‘Global Europe’ for the 21st Century enhances both the security and the prosperity of its citizens.

Ralf Grahn