The Zombie Constitution

I'm going to squeam and squeam until I'm sick. Yesterday EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso turned up at a gathering of the political group leaders in Strasbourg to have what is described as an "Extraordinary exchange of views". They were talking about the Constitution amongst other things.

"I don't understand the nervous reactions [from the European Parliament's political leaders] to my statement that it is useless to return to the constitution. It is simply a fact, and you'd better recognize it. Let's first work, show that EU is necessary to get out of the crisis and then maybe we can come back with the constitution."

(On the 22nd Sept Barroso said: "In the foreseeable future we will not have a constitution, that's obvious. I haven't come across any magic formulae that would bring it back to life.")

At this cold douche of common sense Hans Gert Poettering, the floundering and increasingly pointless Westphalian who heads up the EPP/ED to which the Tories are allied, reacted with truly heroic irrelevance and stupidity,

"No. The constitution has to be approved. We just have to wait for a new French president [expected in 2009]. Mr.  [Atzo] Nicolaï [Minister of European affairs of the Netherlands], told me that the constitution is not dead in the Netherlands. The Commission should give positive signals instead!"

Poettering was backed up in this blind assault by his fellow Teuton and leader of the Socialist Group Martin "capo" Schulz,

"The referenda gave power to the Eurosceptics, and the fact that the 'yes' side is doing nothing, makes the success of the 'no' side. Where are those leaders who signed the treaty of Rome? If the national elites do not cooperate, there's no way we can succeed."

A better example of the new 'post-democratic' European elite's position could not be found. Here is the leader rejecting democracy because he finds the position of the people unpalatable.

Monica Frassoni, representing the Green group laid in,

"It is your [Barroso] fault! You said that the Constitution is dead, You are no leader. We don't have to act in the national capitals, but here, in Europe. Barroso let people think that we had given up on the constitution."

This is the authentic voice of your government. Worrying isn't it?

Best Intentions Gone Wrong

I am not an unusual resident of Europe in that I have not read the new constitution. Like many others I am only influenced by what others write, and many of these have never read it either.

General feeling among the sources I trust is that they got too intellectual and should have just laid it out plain and simple. But like many other areas of European Union policymaking, they did their utmost to avoid looking too much like the United States. The U.S. Constitution is a simple document outlining the simple rights of the people. The E.U. Constitution is about 450 pages full of typical European bureaucracy.

Also, it would be fair to say that the E.U. lacks a true single identity and each country has its own sources of national pride. To feel like other countries will call the shots on our destiny goes against most of our instincts and people naturally rebel against this.

I'm not saying that it's impossible, but the E.U. has a long way to go to achieve a consensus and a simpler, clear document on the basic rights of its citizens would have been a smarter way to start down this road.