Why is there a European Union? What do the Member States want to promote or achieve by joining forces within an institutional framework which presupposes team play? Why have these Member States voluntarily decided to pool their resources, more or less effectively, in certain areas?
The UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband gave one answer when he dealt with threats to our prosperity and security: Nation-states, for all their continuing strengths, are too small to deal on their own with these big problems, but global governance is too weak.
The general aims of the European Union are, in my humble opinion, acceptable, but the question remains if the Member States have been able to equip the Union with adequate means to meet our common challenges effectively.
The security threats are supposed to be met by common foreign, security and defence policies, but these seem to fall short of the simple test posed by Alexander Hamilton: “the means ought to be proportional to the end” (The Federalist, Number XXIII). Here, the intergovernmental conference seems to have further strengthened the centrifugal forces, worsened the prospects for effective decision-making and deepened the democratic deficit.
The Treaty of Lisbon merges the European Community into a single European Union. In addition, some of the proposals of the Constitutional Treaty find their home among the objectives of the revised Treaty on European Union.
As between rival siblings, jealousy and bickering may lead to spurious victories: French government officials have congratulated themselves on banning free and undistorted competition from the objectives of the Union to a Protocol annexed to the Treaties (Protocol on the internal market and competition).
German industrialists, British merchants, American capitalists, Polish plumbers and Chinese entrepreneurs, all have undermined the confidence of a great nation, always on the lookout for a protective political fix. Only now, it is to be called protection, not protectionism.
The Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon (CIG 14/07),
1. The Union’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples.
2. The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime.
3. The Union shall establish an internal market. It shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. It shall promote scientific and technological advance.
It shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child.
It shall promote economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States.
It shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and ensure that Europe’s cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced.
4. The Union shall establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro.
5. In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests and contribute to the protection of its citizens. It shall contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the child, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter.
6. The Union shall pursue its objectives by appropriate means commensurate with the competences which are conferred upon it in the Treaties.