Saturday, June 23, 2007

The heart of Europe

I have recently been approved as a potential candidate for the European Parliament. Surprisingly I enjoyed the process. The party's assessment process can never be objective but the way assessors judge seems fair, thorough and transparent. By comparison, I was rejected in the 1970s without clear reasons by an ad hoc panel which included a woman who disliked me (and young people in general) and someone who had just joined the party whereas I was approved in the 1980s by another ad hoc panel made up of friends who shared a drink with me in the bar of the National Liberal Club.

By contrast, the Brussels summit which has just finished was longish but not thorough and spun to the opacity of grandma's stockings. The government's line is that the new draft treaty is just an amending treaty not a constitutional one. This is of course a distinction without a difference, as Eurosceptics will no doubt point out. The EU has always had a constitution as has the UK. In both cases the constitution is not embodied in one document (as in the USA for example). Instead the constitution is the combination of many treaties and conventions. I might prefer a simpler comprehensive single document but why are people so threatened by the word "constitution" ? There is a lot more to say about the undesirability of referendums for ratifying treaties, but for the moment I'll confine myself to one point. This government and any possible British government will never satisfy public concern about the EU until it spurns spin and engages with the real argument and starts to make the positive case for European Union.

So much more to say, but breakfast calls.

1 comment:

Ed said...

That yellow background on your blog must be genetically modified - it should come with a Govt health warning.

I feel cheated. Ive read all 485 pages of the constitutional treaty (simpler!?!?!?) and have an arm full of questions about it that now might be redundant. Let me know when you are next in civilisation and we can share a drink and a discussion about them anyway (and I'll share my views on the inadequacies of the current approval process).