Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who chaired the European Convention, has given his views on the grand opt-out by the United Kingdom at a conference titled ‘Britain with the EU: a special status’. How much of a loss would it be for the citizens of the European Union if Britain, already outside core areas and a consistent brake on institutional reform, opted for a special status roughly corresponding to a second-tier membership?
Is VGE just stating the obvious: Britain’s accentuated estrangement from Europe under a coming Conservative government?
As the father of the draft Constitution, VGE has repeatedly pointed out the substantial similarities between the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty, although the later stages have each diluted proposals by the European Convention.
But ‘Le blog de Valéry Giscard d’Estaing pour la démocratie en Europe’ has failed to live up to its motto ‘for democracy in Europe’. If VGE wants a strong and coherent Europe on the international scene, he should rethink the premises of the European project. Without democratic legitimacy the European Union is going to remain a soft power in a world of assertive hard powers.
The way forward lies well beyond the Lisbon Treaty: Security and prosperity, based on government of the EU citizens, by the EU citizens, and for the EU citizens.
With or without the United Kingdom, at least an advance group has to embrace the EU’s membership criteria for the European Union itself.
P.S. 9 September 2008: Global Vision has the text of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's speech available at http://www.global-vision.net/files/downloads/download547.pdf (in French).
An English version is promised soon.