Surely only its authors have read its turgid earnestness without laughing, which is one reason why the European project is foundering. On Sunday in France, and Wednesday in Holland, Europe's elites -- political, commercial and media -- may learn the limits of their ability to impose their political fetishes on restive and rarely consulted publics.
The European project is the transformation of "Europe" from a geographic into a political denotation. This requires the steady drainage of sovereignty from national parliaments, and the "harmonization" of most economic and social policies.
…why are these two nations being balky? Partly because, unusually, they are allowed to be. The European project has come this far largely by bypassing democracy.
…Some French factions, their normal obstreperousness leavened by paranoia, think the constitution is a conspiracy to use "ultraliberalism" -- free markets -- to destroy their "social model." That is the suffocating web of labor laws and other statism that gives France double-digit unemployment -- a staggering 22 percent of those under age 25.
… The proposed constitution has 448 articles -- 441 more than the U.S. Constitution. It is a jumble of pieties, giving canonical status to sentiments such as "the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and sportswomen'' should be protected. It establishes, among many other rights, a right to "social and housing assistance'' sufficient for a "decent existence.'' Presumably, supranational courts and bureaucracies will define and enforce those rights, as well as the right of children to "express their views fully.'' And it stipulates that "preventive action should be taken'' to protect the environment.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
The European Union, which has a flag no one salutes and an anthem no one knows, now seeks ratification of a constitution few have read
writes George Will.