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The New Empire of Europe

from the July 10, 2007 eNews issue
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It has been two years since European voters rejected the EU Constitutional Treaty, a veritable coup which left politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels scratching their heads. Efforts were made to revive the failed proposal, but to no avail. The people had spoken – or so it seemed. Today, the EU constitution is once again set to become the law of the land. However it is now being called the EU "reform treaty" and this time around its fate may not rest in the hands of the people.

The new EU reform treaty is essentially a repackaging of the EU constitutional treaty – not unlike putting lipstick on a pig – critics say the bulk of the document remains unchanged. According to Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, the reform treaty is "90 percent the same" as the former constitutional treaty. However because it is not technically a constitution, government leaders may be able to ratify the treaty without submitting it to national referendums (giving it a better chance of survival). Like the constitutional treaty, the reform treaty establishes a new permanent EU president and a new foreign policy chief. It also abolishes national vetoes in more than 50 areas, strengthens the powers of the European Parliament and European Commission, and gives the EU formal legal "personality" for the first time, enabling it to sign international treaties.

For many Europeans the EU constitution represents a loss of sovereignty and national identity. The document itself is enormous, over 160,000 words in the English version (almost 500 pages), that is supposed to streamline the government. Critics complain that the document is too long and too complex. It is written in highly technical legal jargon that has proved difficult even for experts to understand, much less the general public.

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, recently described the European Union by saying: "We are not the United States of Europe - we are unique in the history of mankind! Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organization of empires. We have the dimension of empire but there is a difference. Empires were made with force with a centre imposing diktat. Now what we have is the first non-imperial empire." Barroso, it seems, has missed the obvious: by ignoring the clear outcome of the national referendums, and pushing ahead with the treaty, the EU leaders are in fact creating this new "empire" by force. Voters rejected the constitution, but it seems it is going to be implemented anyway.

In recent years the European Union has steadily moved forward in its attempt to unite Europe politically and economically. It has succeeded in unifying and strengthening its economic market, creating a common currency, and establishing both a European legislative and judicial system. It has been suggested by some that the European Union may be the revived Roman Empire. Thus it is interesting to note that the introduction of the Euro is the first time since the days of Caesar and the Roman Empire that Europe has had a common currency, others have tried, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte, but none were successful. We will continue to observe with anticipation the historic developments taking place in Europe. There are still many obstacles the European Union must face on the road to solidarity, but in the eyes of some they have already accomplished the impossible. The once impenetrable wall between east and west, communist and free, is now gone, and in its place is a growing economic and political force.


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Related Links:

  •   New Cutoff to Finalise European Treaty - Bloomberg
  •   EU Treaty An Affront to Democracy - Belfast Telegraph
  •   Germans and Poles at Odds Over EU Constitution - IHT
  •   The Rise of a European Superstate - Koinonia House