Anthony Coughlan of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre identifies four important aspects of the proposed revised EU constitutional treaty and explains why democrats everywhere should oppose it
1. It would give the EU the constitutional form of a state for the first time and make us all real and not just honorary citizens of this EU state:
POLITICALLY, the most important thing the proposed new treaty would do would be to set up a legally new EU in the constitutional form of a supranational European federation and to make us all real citizens of that state, owing obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority, in contrast to our notional or honorary EU "citizenship" at present.
The symbols of an EU state - flag, anthem and national day - are to be dropped, for they already exist anyway without a legal basis; but the actual EU state of which these are the symbols is to be constitutionally created by the proposed new treaty. This is to be done by giving the EU legal personality and its own corporate existence for the first time, separate from and superior to its member states, just as the USA is legally separate from and superior to states like California, Kansas and New York, or federal Germany is superior to Bavaria, Saxony etc.
Politically and legally, this is the core element of an EU constitution, which the Intergovernmental Conference is now being established to draw up. It will incorporate most elements of the existing Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, although the word 'constitution' is to be avoided for fear it might alarm people. As this is politically and legally the most important part of the revised constitution, while being the least understood and discussed aspect of it - for the EU state-builders are desperate to avoid drawing attention to it - it is explained more fully below.
2. It would give the EU more law-making powers:
The proposed revised constitutional treaty would transfer more powers to the EU from national states, national parliaments and citizens. It would give the constitutionally new Union which it would establish law-making powers over 50 new areas or topics of public policy. These include transport, public health, energy, space, science, sport. The non-elected Commission would get the monopoly of proposing EU laws in these new areas and these laws would be made primarily by the oligarchy, the committee of legislators, which is the 27 politicians who constitute the Council of Ministers as they make laws for 450 million Europeans and are irremoveable as a group.
3. It would give the big states more weight and small and middle-sized states less weight in making EU laws:
It would do this by making population size a key element in deciding EU laws and thereby reduce the relative voting weight and influence of small and middle-sized states as compared to the big states, of which Germany is the biggest.
4. It would remove the right to a permanent EU commissioner:
It would remove the right of each member state to be represented at all times on the EU Commission, the body which has the monopoly of proposing EU laws, by making the number of commissioners fewer than the number of member states. This matters less to Big States, for their political and economic weight ensures that they can defend their interests in EU policy-making even if they are occasionally without Commission representation. This proposed change has far more serious implications for smaller states.
Giving a new EU the constitutional form of state, of which we would be made real and not notional citizens as at present:
Politically and legally the most important thing in the proposed revised EU constitutional treaty is that:
- it would give the constitutional form of a supranational European state to the legally new EU it would establish, making the latter separate from and constitutionally superior to its 27 member states, just as the USA is separate from and constitutionally superior to California, New York, Kansas etc.; and
- it would make us all real citizens of this newly constituted EU, owing obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority as superior to our own national constitutions and laws, just as the constitution and laws of the USA are superior to the constitution and laws of California, New York etc. Real EU citizenship would thereby replace the notional or honorary EU "citizenship" people speak of at present, for one can only be a citizen of a state.
The new Treaty would make this change this by:
- giving the legally new EU, which the Treaty would establish, its own legal personality and distinct corporate existence for the first time, something all states possess;
- abolishing the current distinction between the area of supranational European Community law, where the EC Commission has the monopoly of legislative proposals, and the "intergovernmental" areas of foreign policy, justice and home affairs, where member states up to now have retained their sovereignty. All areas of public policy would thereby come within the scope of supranational EU law-making either actually or potentially, as in any single unified state;
- transferring the powers and institutions of the existing European Community to the new European Union which the revised constitutional treaty would establish;
- making us real citizens of this new EU state entity, with the normal citizens' duties of obedience and loyalty, with all the implications of that.
By constituting this new European Union for the first time, the proposed new treaty would in effect be the Constitution of a supranational EU federal state even though the intention is to avoid using the word 'constitution' so far as possible, for fear that would alarm people if they realised what is happening, especially if they get a chance to vote in referendums. Hence the intention of avoiding giving citizens a say, except in Ireland and possibly Denmark, where referendums on all surrenders of state sovereignty are constitutionally required.
Up to now the European Union does not have legal personality or corporate existence in its own right. Only the European Community, which makes supranational EC laws, possesses that. Properly speaking therefore, there is thus no such thing as 'EU'(European Union) law - only 'EC'(European Community) law. At present the name 'European Union', which derives from the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union, is a descriptive term for the various forms of cooperation amongst the 27 EU member states. These forms of cooperation cover the area of supranational law constituted by the European Community on the one hand, where the European Commission proposes all the laws, and on the other hand cooperation in the "intergovernmental" areas of foreign and home affairs, where member states have up to now retained their sovereignty and the European Commission has no legislative role.
That is why the 1992 Maastricht Treaty is called the 'Treaty on European Union rather than 'of' Union. The proposed revised constitutional treaty which the Intergovernmental Conference will now draw up would be in effect the 'Treaty OF European Union', for that would legally establish the European Union as a distinct entity for the first time, with most of the features of a state, and would make us all real citizens of this new state entity.
Giving the new European Union, which the revised constitutional treaty would establish, legal personality and its own corporate existence would enable it to have not only its own president, foreign minister - however called - and diplomatic corps, and sign inter-state treaties with other states, it would enable the new Union to take to itself all the powers and institutions of the existing European Community - legislative, executive and judicial. This legally new EU would thereby possess all the features of a fully developed state except the power to impose taxes and to take its constituent member states to war against their will; and the Euro-federalists aim to give the new EU federation the latter two powers in time.
Why this curious procedure of having one treaty - Maastricht - 'on' European Union and another treaty - the proposed Constitutional Treaty - effectively a Treaty 'of' Union? The reason is that because the Maastricht Treaty on European Union makes us all familiar with the terms 'European Union' and 'European citizenship', without actually legally establishing these or giving them substantial legal content, those pushing the Euro-federalist integration project hope that citizens will not notice the radical character of the constitutional change being proposed in the revised constitution and how the legal essence of both the 'Union' itself and EU 'citizenship' is to be altered without most people being aware of it. The same familiar names and terms will be kept, but their legal substance would be fundamentally transformed.
By such sleight of hand are we to be made real citizens of a real European state that is superior to our own national states. We are thereby to have real citizens' obligations of obedience, solidarity and loyalty to the new European Union imposed upon us without most people knowing or realising that this is happening, for those pushing the new treaty are desperately anxious not to draw attention to this aspect of it. And so far as possible the peoples of Europe are not be consulted in referendums, for fear they might thereby realise what is happening and they might object.
It is surely no small thing to attempt to turn the citizens of the member states of the EU into citizens of a supranational 'United States of Europe' that is separate from and superior to their own national states and constitutions. It can only be done by sleight of hand, deception and bullying. Hence the elaborate charade of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union and the new Treaty of European Union, which the proposed revised constitutional treaty in effect would be, although it is intended to give the latter some such spin-doctor's title as 'reform treaty' to make it easier for the EU elites to get it ratified.
The 1950 Schuman Declaration on the European Coal and Steel Community stated that that was "the first step in the federation of Europe". The proposed revised constitutional treaty would be the capstone of the Euro-federalist edifice in that it would give the constitutional form of a supranational state federation to the legally constituted new EU it would establish, to which we would all be required to give citizens' obedience and loyalty. This would be a superior obedience and loyalty to that which we currently owe our national states and constitutions, just as the latter would be constitutionally and legally inferior to the former. Yet the peoples of Europe have no desire for such a development, for it would fundamentally subvert the national democracy and independence of their respective nation states and deprive them of the right to make most of the laws they must obey.
That is why this entire scheme is a profound assault on democracy by the European political, bureaucratic and economic elites that are pushing it. It can only generate hostility and bitterness among citizens all over Europe as they discover with time the implications of the constitutional coup d'etat being planned by these Euro-elites. It constitutes the greatest assault on democracy on our continent since the days of fascism and World War II.
That is why democrats in every EU country, whether on the right or left politically, should unite to oppose it and cooperate and exchange information cross-nationally in doing so.
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
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