[26/05/2005] EU Constitution & Vaclav Klaus

EU Constitution:   Anthony Coughlan's lecture in Prague under the
chairmanship of  President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus ...Full text
of lecture below for your information:-

__________________.

THE NATIONAL PLATFORM EU RESEARCH AND INFORMATION CENTRE
24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9

Tel.:+00-353-1-8305792

Thursday 26 May 2005

Below for your information is the text of the lecture on the proposed EU
Constitution that was given by Irish economist Anthony Coughlan in Prague
last week under the chairmanship of President of the Czech Republic Dr
Vaclav Klaus.

The lecture was sponsored by the Centre for Economics and Politics, Prague,
which was established by Dr Klaus some years ago when he was Czech Prime
Minister. The Centre recently published 14,000 copies of a booklet on the
EU Constitution by Anthony Coughlan, with a foreword by President Klaus.

The lecturer is secretary of the National Platform EU Research and
Information Centre, Ireland,and Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy
at Trinity College Dublin

The lecture, which was given in the Czech Automobil Klub on Thursday
evening last, 19 May, was attended by a crowded audience which included
representatives of all the political parties in the Czech Republic, by  MPs
and MEPs, by several foreign ambassadors and by the Czech and German media.
It was followed by an hour and a quarter's question-and-answer session
which was moderated by Dr Klaus.

President Klaus, who had received the speaker in his office in Prague
Castle the day before, said in his concluding remarks that while he usually
had points of criticism or disagreement with speakers at Centre for
Economics and Politics seminars, on this occasion he was glad to say that
he found himself entirely "ad idem" with what Anthony Coughlan had said.

One new idea which Dr Klaus said he he had got from the Coughlan lecture
was the political cleverness of those pushing the EU State-building project
in recent decades. Thus the 1992 Maastricht "Treaty on European Union" had
introduced the name "European Union" and the notion of a kind of honorary
EU citizenship  to get everyone used to those terms. This meant that people
would not notice the difference, or think that anything much was happening,
when the constitutional-legal-political essence of  the European Union
itself and of EU citizenship was being changed fundamentally, as was now
proposed in the "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe".

This constitutional revolution by stealth was being brought about by the
proposed Treaty-cum-Constitution, which aimed to establish what would be
constitutionally, legally and politically quite a new European Union in the
constitutional form of a supranational European Federation.

One can only be a citizen of a State, Dr Klaus said, and the new Treaty
would make us real citizens of this new EU State for the first time, and
would impose on everyone the normal obligations of citizenship, which would
be to obey this new EU's laws and give it our prime loyalty and allegiance.
The proposed constitutional Treaty would therefore be the real "Treaty OF
European Union", whereas the title of the 1992 Maastricht  Treaty was the
"Treaty ON European Union", for the latter did not set up a real Union in
any meaningful sense.

The present EU, unlike the proposed  post-Constitution EU, does not  have
the form of Statehood or even legal personality, and people are not
citizens of it in any real sense. That would all change however in the
post-Constitution European Union if this treaty should be ratified.  The
meaning of EU citizenship would be decisively altered by the proposed
Constitution, as people would in due time discover.

President Klaus went on to say that he thought it quite inappropriate that
politicians from other EU countries should be intervening in the French and
Dutch referendums in favour of the Yes side. This was against all the
traditional norms of democratic behaviour between States. Citizens of  a
country should be allowed to debate and determine these matters amongst
themselves and should not be hectored, cajoled or implicitly threatened
from outside.

The EU elite, the people who  liked to breakfast in Rome, have lunch in
Stockholm and go to bed the same night in Dublin, were desperate to get
this treaty ratified, for it would benefit them hugely, give them more
personal power and make them feel more important.  But trying to turn the
25 EU Member States into one supranational Federal EU State was not  in the
interests of the 450 million people of the present EU. It was not the kind
of Europe they wanted. They wished for and deserved  a different Europe.

President Klaus said that he had just learned that Czech Prime Minister
Jiri Paroubek had visited France to speak at  a Yes-side meeting the day
before, and the Prime Minister's photograph sporting a "Oui"  badge was
carried in the newspapers. He presumed that this gave himself a license to
say publicly that he hoped very much that France's voters would vote No in
their impending referendum for the sake of  France itself, of  a sensible
future for the European Union and to maintain democracy in all the EU
Member States.

N.B. President Vaclav Klaus refused to go to Rome last October to sign the
Treaty Establishing  a Constitution for Europe on behalf of the Czech
Republic,  something the Czech President normally would have done, as he
was fundamentally opposed to the Treaty. This caused the Social Democrat
Czech Government to send its Foreign Minister to sign the treaty instead.

_________

Enquiries re the Centre for Economics and Politics, Czech Republic, may be
made to its Director, Dr Petr Mach, Politickych veznu 10, 110 00 Praha  1;
Tel: +420 /222 192 406 ; E-mail:<cep@cepin.cz> ;  www.cepin.cz

Enquiries to the Office of the President, Czech Republic, may be made to Mr
Jiri Brodsky, Political Department,119 08 Praha-Hrad; Tel.: +420/224 373
582;

****************************
TEXT OF LECTURE ON THE EU CONSTITUTION by Irish economist Anthony Coughlan
***************************

WHAT THE "TREATY ESTABLISHING A CONSTITUTION FOR EUROPE" WOULD CHANGE
-  10 smaller things and one Big Thing

"The EU Constitution is the birth certificate of the United States of Europe."
-  German Minister for Europe Hans Martin Bury, Die Welt, 25-2-2005

"The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State."
-  Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, Financial Times, 21-6-2004

"Creating a single European State bound by one European Constitution is the
decisive task of our time."
-  German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Daily Telegraph, 27-12-1998

"It is only natural that the eastern part of the continent will become our
preoccupation for years to come, because Germans see this as a matter of
historical destiny. The most fundamental priority we have is trying to
integrate all of Europe. But for France the underlying issue is all about
coming to terms with its loss of influence in the world."
-   Dr Immo Stabreit, former German Ambassador to France, International
Herald Tribune, Sat.- Sun., 11-12 September 1999

____________

The "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" consists of 448
Articles, 36 Protocols and 48 attached political Declarations. The most
important thing about it is that it is a Constitution as well as a Treaty.
The proposed Constitution would do many things, including:

1. ABOLISHING 70 OR SO FURTHER NATIONAL VETOES on top of the existing
treaties and transferring law-making powers in relation to them from
National Parliaments and citizens  to the EU Commission, Council of
Ministers, Court and Parliament. Over half of the national vetoes abolished
would be in new areas of  EU law-making. The rest would replace unanimity
by majority voting for making EU laws. These would cover civil and criminal
law, justice and policing; border controls, asylum and immigration;
implementation decisions in foreign policy; diplomatic and consular
protection; trade in  services; public health; energy; tourism; sport;
culture; intellectual property etc. The Constitution does not propose to
repatriate  a single power from the EU to its Member States, although that
was suggested as a possibility by the Laeken Declaration which established
the Convention that drafted the Constitution. (v.Part III)

2.  GIVING THIS NEW EU THE POWER TO DECIDE OUR HUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS:  It
would give the 25 judges of the EU Court the power to decide our personal
human and civil rights in    the wide range of policy areas covered by EU
law. This would mean a new tier of lawyers and judges between citizens and
those with final power to decide our rights.  There are wide differences in
human rights standards between EU countries that make a common standard
inappropriate in such areas (v. Part II of the Constitution, Arts.II-61 to
114).

3.  GIVING MORE POWER TO THE BIG STATES IN MAKING EU LAWS:  It would
introduce a mainly population-based system for making EU laws, which means
there would be more of them. It would  increase the influence of big States
like Germany and France, who usually combine together, as well as populous
countries like  Romania, Turkey etc. when they join, in deciding the laws
that we would have to obey as citizens of the proposed new EU. (Art.I-25)

4. CREATING AN EU PRESIDENT, FOREIGN MINISTER AND PUBLIC PROSECUTOR: It
would create a permanent EU Political President by abolishing the present
six-monthly rotating EU presidency, as well as an EU Foreign Minister and
diplomatic corps, and an EU Public Prosecutor's Office.(Art.I-22; Art.I-28;
Art.III-274)

5.  NO NATIONAL COMMISSIONER FOR EVERY 5 YEARS OUT OF 15:  It would reduce
the number of EU Commissioners by one-third, so that individual Member
States would go unrepresented for five years out of every 15 on the body
that proposes all EU laws. (Art.I-26).

6. AMENDING THE EU CONSTITUTION WITHOUT FURTHER TREATIES:  It would enable
EU law-making in most areas to be shifted from unanimity to majority voting
by consensus amongst the 25 Presidents and Prime Ministers, without need of
further treaties  or referendums. (Arts. I-40.7 and I-55.4;
Arts.III-210.3; 234.2; 269.3; 274.4 and 422; and Arts. IV-444 and 445)

7. COMPLYING WITH A SUPERIOR EU FOREIGN POLICY: It would make compliance
with a common EU foreign policy constitutionally mandatory, would replace
most of the treaty-making powers of the EU's Member States and pass these
to the new Union based on its own Constitution, and would significantly
militarize this new Union. (Arts.I.16; I-13.2; III-23; I-41)

8. A CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT TO ABOLISH NATIONAL CURRENCIES:  It would
make the adoption of the euro-currency constitutionally mandatory by
providing that "The currency of the Union shall be the euro"(Art.I-8), even
though 13 of the 25 EU Members still retain their national currencies, and
by including Protocol 12 on the Euro-Group, which is an integral part of
the proposed Treaty-cum-Constitution, agreed to by all 25 EU Member States,
and which lays down special arrangements for the eurozone countries
"pending the euro becoming the currency of all Member States of the Union".

9. ESTABLISHING AN IDEOLOGICAL CONSTITUTION: It would erect an extreme
ideological neo-liberalism into mandatory constitutional principles for 450
million people, implemented by an intrusive regulatory apparatus. This is
mingled with the corporatist economic traditions of Big State Germany and
France, which would have greater influence under the new population-based
voting system. A proper Constitution by contrast lays down rules for State
policy-making, but leaves the content of public policy to political debate
between parties of the Centre, Right and Left. Under the heading Economic
Policy, Art.III-178 of the Constitution provides: "The Member States and
the Union shall act in accordance with the principle of an open market
economy with free competition, favouring an efficient allocation of
resources." The Constitution would make mandatory for the indefinite future
the deflationary and monetarist economic policy of the European Central
Bank, which has contributed to the current high unemployment levels of the
core EU economies(Art.III-185). It would make "liberalisation"  of services
constitutionally mandatory(Art.III-147) and  would permit the EU to decide
the boundary between public and private services, which could imperil
publicly-provided health, education, transport and cultural services in the
Member States (Art.III-122).  These are properlymatters  for public policy
debate and contention, not for Constitutions.

10. EURATOM TO CONTINUE INDEFINITELY:  It would continue the European
Atomic Energy Community in being indefinitely. The obligations of the
Euratom Treaty, which favours nuclear power, would be made constitutionally
mandatory on all 25 EU Member States.

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTION WOULD DO WOULD BE
legally to abolish the European Union and European Community that we are
currently members of and establish in their place quite a new Union in the
constitutional form of a supranational European Federation - while still
using the same"EU" name and transferring existing European laws and
institutions into the new Union.

Giving this new EU the constitutional form of a State would, by corollary,
reduce the present EU Member States to the constitutional status of
provinces or regional states within a superior Federal EU. This new EU
would not yet have all the powers of a fully-fledged Federation.
Historically it takes time for these to develop. It could not yet impose
taxes or force its members to go to war  against their will. But apart from
these two, a post-Constitution Union would possess all the main features
and powers of a supranational Federal State, and the Constitution's
advocates are confident of obtaining these remaining powers in time.

THE FIVE STEPS THAT WOULD MAKE US REAL CITIZENS OF THE NEW EU STATE:

The "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" would give what would
legally be quite a new EU the constitutional form of a supranational
European Federation and would make us real citizens of such a State for the
first time in five logical legal steps:-

1. ABOLISHING THE EXISTING EU AND EC:  Art.IV-437 would repeal all the
existing treaties and thereby abolish the present EU and EC: "This Treaty
establishing a Constitution for Europe shall repeal the treaty establishing
the European Community, the Treaty on European Union and Š the acts and
treaties which have supplemented and amended them."

2. CREATING A NEW EU BASED ON ITS OWN STATE CONSTITUTION:  Art.I-1 would
replace the existing EU with what would be constitutionally, legally and
politically quite a new European Union: "Reflecting the will of the
citizens and States of Europe to build a common future, this  Constitution
establishes the European Union."  Clearly this would be a different Union
from the existing one. Simultaneously, Art.IV-438 of the Constitution would
transfer the existing Community laws and institutions from the present EU
to the new one.

3. GIVING THE NEW EU FEDERAL STATE POWERS: Art.I-6 would assert the primacy
of this new EU's Constitution and laws over the national Constitutions and
laws of its Member States: "The Constitution and law adopted by the
institutions of the Union in exercising competences conferred on it shall
have primacy over the law of the Member States."  In addition, Art.I-1 of
the Constitution  would give the new Union a coordinating federal  power
over all the policies by which the Member States aim to achieve the
objectives they have in common. These are set out in Art.I-3 and are about
as wide and all-encompassing as could be. Art.I-1 provides: "The Union
shall coordinate the policies by which the Member States aim to achieve
these objectives (i.e. the objectives they have in  common) and shall
exercise on a Community basis the competences they confer on it."
Convention Chairman Giscard d'Estaing has explained what exercising EU
powers "on a Community basis" means: "It wasn't worth creating a negative
commotion with the British. I rewrote my text with the word federal
replaced by communautaire (i.e.'on a Community basis') which means exactly
the same thing."

4. GIVING THE NEW EU LEGAL PERSONALITY LIKE OTHER STATES:  This would
enable the new EU to speak with one voice, to conduct itself as a State in
the international community of States, sign treaties with other States,
have a President, Foreign Minister, Public Prosecutor etc., as well as its
own currency and State symbols, flag, anthem and annual public holiday,
just like other States. Art.I-7 provides: "The Union shall have legal
personality."  The EU's State symbols would be given a proper legal basis
for the first time by Art.I-8 of the Constitution.

5. MAKING US REAL CITIZENS FOR THE FIRST TIME OF THIS NEW EU FEDERATION:
Art. I-10 would then make us real citizens of this new EU Federation,
established by the previous four steps, which would  become our new legal
sovereign and ruler, and to which we would owe the prime duties of
citizenship, namely to obey its laws and give it our loyal allegiance:
"Every national of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union Š
Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to the duties
provided for in the Constitution."  This is real citizenship, not an
honorary or "pretend" EU citizenship as at present, for one can only be a
citizen of a State. The pre-Constitution EU does not have real citizens or
citizenship, for the present EU does not have the constitutional form of
Statehood. It does not even have its own legal personality.  The
post-Constitution EU  however would have both. The pretence that we are
already EU citizens in some vague honorary sense is  designed to mislead
people into thinking that the EU Constitution would make no real change to
their legal-political  status, whereas  it would change it fundamentally

The establishment of a supranational European Federation may be judged a
good or bad thing, realistic or misguided, but it would be ludicrous if the
educated, politically sophisticated peoples of Europe were to consent to
turn their countries into provinces or regions of such an entity, and
themselves into real citizens of it - not just honorary or "pretend"
citizens, as with the present EU - without their realising that this is
what they are being asked to do.

Supporters of the "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" argue
that in the new EU it would establish, the Member States would still have
primacy of authority because it is they that would have conferred powers on
the Union, under the so-called "principle of conferral"(Art.I-11). They
ignore the fact that this is how the classical Federal States have
historically developed: by smaller political units coming together and
transferring powers to a superior.  The best example is 19th-century
Germany. Others are the USA, Canada, Australia.  Where else after all could
Brussels get its powers if not from its Member States, just as the Federal
States whose capitals were 19th century Berlin, or today's Washington,
Ottawa and Canberra did before it?  In the latter cases however the
political units that came together to form Federal States belonged wholly
or mainly to one nation or people, with a common language, culture and
history once their populations had settled.  That gave these States a
popular democratic basis, and with it a natural legitimacy and authority.
This contrasts with the EU's attempt to establish "a new country called
Europe" organised in an EU Federation, despite the real Europe consisting
of many nations and peoples who desire to make their own laws and elect
their own rulers. Member States would still retain their national
constitutions under the EU Constitution, but they would no longer be
constitutions of sovereign States but of provincial states, just as Texas,
California and New York still retain their own state constitutions within
the Federal USA.

Unfortunately, most of the political leaders of the 25 EU Governments take
a wholly uncritical view of the proposed EU Constitution, because the more
national powers are transferred to Brussels, THE MORE PPOWER ACCRUES TO
THEMSELVES PERSONALLY as they make supranational laws on the 25-member EU
Council of Ministers for 450 million people -  with 150 million more
expected to join them in due time.  Fundamentally, the EU is run by a small
number of top politicians and bureaucrats. The more powers are transferred
to Brussels, the more power these people obtain as individuals.  However
citizens lose thereby their power to decide their own laws in their elected
National Parliaments, their right to choose their own rulers and with that
their national democracy and independence. There is no European people or
"demos" that could confer democratic legitimacy and authority on such an EU
Federation. Which is why this proposed EU Constitution is fundamentally
misguided and why if it should come into force it could not possibly last.
That is why it is sensible  to reject it now.

POSITIVE THINGS IN THE EU CONSTITUTION

There are some positive things in the proposed EU Constitution, although
their importance is much exaggerated by its supporters:

(a) It is proposed that the Council of Ministers should meet in public when
deliberating and voting on draft EU laws, although this would be likely to
be a formality for the TV cameras. The negotiating and bargaining leading
up to those laws, the activity of Brussels' 15,000 corporate lobbyists that
seek to influence EU law-makers, would all still take place in
private(Art.I-24.6);

(b) The Constitution would require National Parliaments to be formally
notified of new laws the Commission proposes. If one-third of the 25
Parliaments thought these laws went too far and violated the so-called
principle of subsidiarity, they could object. The Commission would then
have to review its proposal, but could still decide to go ahead with
it(Protocol 2). Supporters of the Constitution claim that this is a
significant new power for National Parliaments. Yet the provision is not
new, for the Parliaments can object already. It is not a power, for they
can object all they like and the Commission can go on ignoring them.  What
National Parliaments get in this provision of the Constitution is a new
right to be ignored. A proposal in the drafting Convention that if
two-thirds of national Parliaments objected, the law proposal would have to
be abandoned altogether, was dropped;

(c) One million EU citizens could petition the Commission to propose a new
EU law to the Council of Ministers in furtherance of the Constitution, but
neither the Commission nor Council need accede to any such
petition(Art.I-47.4);

(d) The Constitution provides that a Member State could withdraw from the
new Union. Such a provision has featured in other Federal Constitutions.
For example it featured in Josef Stalin's 1936 Constitution for the USSR.
The procedure proposed in the EU Constitution would tend in practice to
discourage withdrawals(Art.I-60).

These are positive proposals, but they could all be introduced without
setting up a new EU in the constitutional form of a European Federation, as
described above, abolishing 70 further national vetoes, giving the EU Court
a wide-ranging competence over our basic human and civil rights, and
creating a much more centralised, undemocratic and militarized  European
Union than the EU that currently exists.

THE ALTERNATIVE TO THE EU CONSTITUTION

If the proposed Constitution is rejected, the present EU will continue on
the basis of the Nice Treaty.  That Treaty was "sold" to citizens across
Europe as being the EU enlargement treaty; whereas now the Constitution is
being sold again as necessary for the "efficient" running of the enlarged
EU.  The voting system agreed in Nice was drawn up with the enlarged EU of
25 or more States in mind and is closer to the notion of the Member States
as equal "partners" than the population-based scheme proposed in  the
Constitution.   The Convention on the Future of Europe which drafted the
Constitution failed to do the job it was mandated to do by the Laeken
Declaration that established it. Before it came together there was
absolutely no discussion in any of Europe's democratically elected National
Parliaments on the principle of whether the EU should have a Constitution
at all, on whether deeper EU integration was desirable, or on what kind of
future relations the peoples and Parliaments of Europe wanted with the EU
or between their States.  By rejecting the EU Constitution citizens can
force a proper debate on the kind of Europe they really want. They would
certainly prefer a more democratic and less centralised EU, with the
restoration of significant powers from Brussels to the Member States, as
mooted in the Laeken Declaration.

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