Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast
: The draft European Union Constitution is out. Compare:

: E.U. Constitution: Reflecting the will of the citizens and States of Europe to build a common future, this Constitution establishes the European Union, on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they have in common. The Union shall coordinate the policies by which the Member States aim to achieve these objectives, and shall exercise in the Community way the competences they confer on it. The Union shall be open to all European States which respect its values and are committed to promoting them together.

: U.S. Constitution: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Did the European version lose something in the translation from the French?

: I find it telling that the Constitution “respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States.” Why single out “churches?” Because there are not many synagogues left? Because they wish mosques would go away?

: Note that the Constitution has a sex quota (what about race and religion?): “Each Member State shall submit a list of three persons, of whom at least one must be a woman, whom it considers qualified to be a European Commissioner.”

: The EU is going to have its own foreign minister. So what happens — as happened lately — when the nations disagree? Sounds like a mess. In any organization, somebody has to be in charge or no one is in charge. So who is it?

Member States shall consult one another within the Council and the European Council on any foreign and security policy issue which is of general interest in order to determine a common approach. Before undertaking any action on the international scene or any commitment which could affect the Union’s interests, each Member State shall consult the others within the Council or the European Council. Member States shall ensure, through the convergence of their actions, that the Union is able to assert its interests and values on the

international scene. Member States shall show mutual solidarity.

Sounds as if they’ll never decide anything. How convenient.

: “The Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the victim of terrorist attack or natural or man-made disaster.”

Bin Laden will test that.

: I’ll be eager to read their bill of rights vs. ours when it’s released.

  • Gail

    I have a couple of questions:
    Can you (a country) get out legally if you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake?
    What the *hell* is Blair thinking?!

  • Gail:
    Here is your answer from the constitution:
    Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the European Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
    2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention; the European Council shall examine that notification. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
    The representative of the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in Council or European Council discussions or decisions concerning it.

  • Mac

    Wow, what a mess.
    Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
    “In any organization, somebody has to be in charge or no one is in charge.”
    You are sooo American, Jeff…

  • The constitutions of the US (in which the states gave up their sovereignty) and the EU (in which the states maintain their sovereignty) cannot really be compared. The EU constitution will govern how the member states deal with one another, but the real power in Europe remains with the national governments. Despite all the lip service, the member states delegate to Brussels only those matters on which everyone agrees anyway or are too trivial to fight over.
    Jeff, if you’re looking for constitional poetry, try Article 1 of the German Grundgesetz. ‘Die W

  • If things coming out of Brussels are not all that binding on member states, how come a lot of laws in the UK have been overturned, already?!
    Doesn’t sound like there is much sovereignty left already.

  • BigFire

    I remain firmly convinced that EU is a ploy by the French to look for new revenue avenue to pay for their wellfare state. Since the previous populiar revenue generating method of conquering far off country and sucking off their resources isn’t in vogue, this conquest by treaty is much more elegant.

  • Eh, it’s better than the Articles of Confederation, and we didn’t get our second take on that until the Constitution rolled around after a dozen years of screwing around.

  • MommaBear,
    The _EU_ is not overturning those British laws, the _British_ are doing it themselves to become compliant with the EU treaties. And the British have already done a lot of picking and choosing which EU treaties they ratify and which they do not. Imagine American states picking and choosing which parts of the Constitution they apply to themselves (‘we’ll take freedom of the press, but we’ll opt out of right to bear arms and habeus corpus’). I think Anil’s comparison with the Articles of Confederation is quite apt.
    And as far as treaty compliance goes, none of the member states has done a really complete job, and the big members (France, Germany, Italy) are the furthest behind, I remember hearing a few weeks ago.

  • Anil:
    No matter whether these are articles of confederation or a constitution, that’s no reason they cannot be an eloquent expression of a vision; instead, they are a half-thought-through mess of committee work and based on this reading they will, I predict, see the same fate as the articles of confederation.

  • I wholeheartedly agree that a document like this should have a vision, but I’m saying that the first draft by a bunch of bureaucrats resulting in an uninspiring mishmash of committee-speak isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, sometimes it’s the first step it takes to get to something as good as our constitution is.
    In other words, the United States of Europe don’t seem to be doing much worse than the United States of America were doing at the same point.

  • Samantha

    This is not even the Articles of Confederation. It has more in common with the Congress of Vienna IMHO.

  • “I’ll be eager to read their bill of rights vs. ours when it’s released.”
    That’s easy; all EU countries are already party to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but is legally binding. The nice thing compared to the US Constitution is that, whereas the US Constitution protects it citizens’ rights from the govenrment alone, the ECHR protects its citizens’ rights from their fellow citizens as well.