Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The EU's kinky political elite

It is always remarkable how little the EU political elite really understand about the nature of the EU they purport to govern. Here is some news of a plan to introduce elements of the Constitutional Treaty via the backdoor.

The European constitutional treaty may be impossible to rescue if member states press on with ratification after the French No vote, one of its principal drafters warned yesterday.

Giuliano Amato, the former Italian prime minister and vice-president of the convention that drew up the constitution, pleaded instead for the most useful parts of the treaty to be "transplanted" into the Treaty of Nice, which will continue to be the legal basis for EU decision-making. He singled out the creation of a European foreign minister and the introduction of a simplified double-majority voting system as two essential elements that might be saved.

Mr Amato, a constitutional lawyer, said that the 25 member states were currently bound by an agreement to continue the ratification process until November 2006, and then take stock of how many have formally ratified in parliament or in referendums. If four-fifths have ratified - 20 of the 25 members - the EU leaders will hold a summit to decide how to proceed.

"The fact that some countries might say No is implied in the declaration," he said. "We are supposed to continue." But there was a danger of a domino effect after the French No vote on Sunday. "If ratification continues I fear that at the end of 2006 nothing could be done to rescue the constitution."

Although it would require a unanimous decision at the forthcoming EU summit to change the ratification procedure, individual countries could simply decide not to proceed, Mr Amato said. At the end of the process they would simply be counted as having failed to ratify. It would be preferable to allow the ratification process to peter out after six months and choose which "organs" in the treaty could be transplanted, he said.

See FT @ Plea to save elements of the Constitution
So it seems that Clause 30, as per my post yesterday, is not worth the paper it was printed upon. No surprises here - most EU treaties are ignored to a greater or lesser degree; even the rules underpining the €uro have been ignored!

However it is worth remembering that some of the elements Mr. Amato wants to save will mean re-opening the debate on such highly controversial proposals as majority voting and the matter of an EU Foreign Minister. The former issue nearly destroyed the Constitutional Treaty last year as member states argued over the weight their respective votes carried. The latter one will mean revisiting the question of an EU-wide common foreign and security policy – as we all know from the Iraq War issue not all member states governments can agree on this, and I doubt whether anyone is going to surrender a seat at the UN Security Council to let the new EU foreign Minister in; nor is it likely that many will see why the EU needs a seat when existing EU member states already have one.

I have long maintained that EU political elite and the European Commission in particular are kinky in that they seem to enjoy a rather strange form of economic and political sado-masochism. Mr. Amato simply adds further confirmation of this kink.