Monday, June 13, 2005

The EU's lack of definition

The issue of Britain’s budget rebate has been so hyped by the media, and EU politicians keen to deflect attention away from the humiliating rejection of the EU Constitution by France and the Netherlands, that one might well think this was the only important issue to be debated by EU poltical leaders at the summit this week. It is clearly back to business as usual for the EU political elite!

What seems clear is that a more fundamental debate needs to be held as to what the purpose of the EU is in the C21st – the argument of peace in Europe is increasingly one that is no longer relevant 60 years after WW2, especially for younger generations.

Terms like “Europe” and “EU project” need to be defined. The words of Mr. Alumnia, Commissioner for Monetary Affairs, about “putting in place a system of economic governance that is efficient, well-balanced and credible”* need more explanation. If the Constitution, that has just been rejected by France and the Netherlands, represents the official definition of purpose for the future of the EU then clearly there is a problem; few people have either the time or the inclination to read hundreds of pages of legalese.

It is also clear that the EU can no longer function with contradictory mantras, such as that recently used by the Commissioner for Institutional Communications, that EU member states “while remaining sovereign, should pool their sovereignty”.** Frankly the latter is absurd and suggests a belief in the impossible – but then the EU has often seemed alarmingly like the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Alice through the looking glass

‘But you can’t believe things which are impossible’, said Alice. ‘Nonsense’, said the Queen of Hearts. ‘You just haven’t had enough practice. I often believe six different impossible things before breakfast.’

* Joaquín Almunia Speech 10 June 2005

** Margot Wallström Speech 10 June 2005