By the end of this year, when Americans know who their 44th President is, Europeans will know who the first President of Europe will be.
In December, governments leaders of the 27 European Union member states convened in Lisbon to sign the EU Reform Treaty. This treaty of 76,250 words is a rewrite of the EU Constitutional Treaty, which was rejected in 2005 by referendums in major European countries. However, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the author of the reform treaty, pointed out: “The substance of the constitution is preserved. That is a fact.” This was confirmed by former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the author of the constitution, who acknowledged: “The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged.”
European leaders carefully avoid to call the reform treaty a “constitution,” however, because they do not want to submit it to their peoples in a referendum. French President Nicolas Sarkozy conceded in November that the treaty would be rejected “in all member states if they have a referendum.” If Mr. Sarkozy truly represented the French people, as he is elected to do, and cared about democracy he would oppose the Lisbon treaty. He doesn’t.
Apart from Ireland, where the Irish Constitution demands that treaties be submitted to a referendum, the treaty will be ratified in all Europe’s national parliaments. “A referendum now would bring Europe into danger,” says Mr. Sarkozy. He admits that “there is a cleavage between people and governments.” The cleavage results from the fact that Mr. Sarkozy cares about Europe rather than France. France is a thing of the past. It has almost ceased to exist.
The peoples of Europe reject the Lisbon treaty because, like the EU constitution, it will abolish their ancient, century old nation-states and transform the European Union into a genuine federal superstate – a United States of Europe. Politicians like Mr. Sarkozy and Mrs. Merkel are the driving forces of this process because it enhances their powers. Today’s EU’s governmental bodies – the European Commission and the European Council – are unelected; they are appointed by the national governments. As the British author John Laughland explains: “The EU is a cartel of governments, engaged in a permanent conspiracy against their own electorates and parliaments.” The EU gives the 27 government leaders wide-ranging law-making powers. In other words: it allows the executive powers to usurp the legislative powers.
Today, up to three quarters of all legislation in the 27 EU countries already emanates from the commission and the council in Brussels. The national parliaments are obliged to rubber-stamp these decisions. The reform treaty – or the constitution that dares not speak its name – will formally subordinate Europe’s 27 national parliaments to the union, while the latter will also receive self-empowerment powers.
The new EU will act as a state in its relations with its citizens and other states. It will have a common diplomatic corps, a common foreign minister, a common president. Unlike the American president, however, the European peoples have no say in deciding who their president is going to be. The first president of Europe, who will assume powers next year, will be appointed next fall by the 27 leaders of the member states’ governments. It looks as if the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has the best chances of becoming Europe’s president.
Mr. Blair has carefully maneuvered himself in position for the top job. In June, the well informed Financial Times – not at all a conspiracy theory publication – revealed that Mr. Sarkozy had discussed his plans for Mr. Blair at an EU Council meeting in Brussels. This was the same council meeting where Mr. Blair, a few days before his resignation as British prime minister, accepted the reform treaty on behalf of the British Labor government and signed away a number of the rights that Margaret Thatcher had secured for Britain in the 1980s.
John O’Sullivan writes in this month’s New Criterion that Tony Blair is a “tranzi-ist” – someone who favors the power of transnational bodies over national institutions. During his 10 years at 10 Downing Street, Mr. Blair abolished the British Constitution piece by piece and prepared the ground for transferring sovereignty from Westminster to Brussels. Mr. Sarkozy favors Mr. Blair at the helm of the EU because Mr. Sarkozy is a “tranzi-ist,” too, as are Mrs. Merkel and most of the other European leaders.
This piece was originally published in The Washington Times on January 30, 2008 .