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How the Irish Saved Civilization, Again

The Irish Times reports that the Lisbon Treaty has been defeated in a referendum held in the Republic of Ireland. The Lisbon Treaty is a new version of the proposed EU Constitution, which had previously been rejected by the voters of the France and the Netherlands. This time, the French and Dutch governments refused to allow a popular vote. In the U.K., the Labour Party had promised a referendum, but that promise was broken. Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing explained: "Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly... All the earlier [EU Constitution] proposals will be in the new text [Lisbon Treaty], but will be hidden and disguised in some way."

Treaty proponents lamented that Ireland, with only 1% of the EU population, could derail a 27-nation treaty. But the very fact that only 1% of the EU's population was allowed to vote on a treaty which would massively reduce national sovereignty and democratic accountability was itself an illustration of the enormous "democratic deficit" of the EU in general, and the Lisbon Treaty in particular. According to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Lisbon Treaty would be defeated in every EU nation if referenda were allowed.

The referendum debate in Ireland involved some Irish-specific issues, such as the Treaty's impact on farmers, its threat to Ireland's official foreign policy of neutrality, and the danger that Ireland might be forced to raise its low corporate income tax rate of 12.5% (which almost everyone agrees has been an essential part of the economic success of the Celtic Tiger). But the broader opposition seemed to stem from the sheer incomprehensibility of the Treaty. Even Taoiseich (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen admitted that he had not read the Treaty, which is over 400 pages long and deliberately written to be obscure. Treaty proponents included both of the two largest political parties (Fianna Fail and Fine Gael), and they appealed to the Irish people's strong support of trade with Europe, and to Ireland's optimistically internationalist orientation.

A group named Libertas was formed to lead the opposition, and Libertas agreed with the principles of international trade and Ireland's integration into Europe. But Libertas was successful at convincing Irish voters that the Treaty was perilous threat to the democratic sovereignty which is the glory of European civilization, and for which the Irish had struggled for so many centuries to win for themselves.

More coverage at the excellent British site EU Referendum (which astute readers may remember for its outstanding work in exposing media complicity in cooperating with Hezbollah to create staged pictures of the alleged Israeli atrocities at Qana, Lebanon).

AGBates:
"But the very fact that only 1% of the EU's population was allowed to vote on a treaty which would massively reduce national sovereignty and democratic accountability was itself an illustration of the enormous 'democratic deficit' of the EU in general . . . ."

Couldn't a similar claim be made about the ratification of our Constitution and/or the 14th Amendment?
6.13.2008 12:16pm
Bretzky (mail):
AGBates:


"But the very fact that only 1% of the EU's population was allowed to vote on a treaty which would massively reduce national sovereignty and democratic accountability was itself an illustration of the enormous 'democratic deficit' of the EU in general . . . ."

Couldn't a similar claim be made about the ratification of our Constitution and/or the 14th Amendment?


Yes. But there is one key difference between the ratification of the US Constitution and the attempt by the EU governments to pass the Lisbon Treaty without a popular ratification: the men elected to vote on the ratification of the US Constitution were chosen in special elections called specifically to address the issue.

In other words, the voting public had an opportunity to vote specifically on the issue of ratification. By allowing the elected members of EU governments to vote in their national capacity, you allow the voice of the people to be diluted on the issue of sovereignty.

The thing to keep in mind is that sovereignty rests with the people alone, not their elected representatives. The elected representatives are trustees of the people's sovereignty and have no rightful authority to abrogate that sovereignty for the people. It would be like me selling your house for you while I was house sitting on the basis that I was occupying it at the time of sale.

Only the people can rightfully give up any part of their sovereignty to a different entity.
6.13.2008 12:36pm
Per Son:
Nice try Brez, but I must differ. When is the states' turns to ratify or vote down a Constitutional Ammendment, it is up to the state to make that decision. It can hold a popular vote, or the State legislature can decide on its own. The people's redress is to vote the buggers out, or keep them in after the fact.
6.13.2008 12:42pm
jazzed (mail):
Guinness is not only tasty, it lends itself to clarity of thought, too! Three cheers for our McKinsmen!
6.13.2008 12:42pm
Raghav (mail) (www):
the men elected to vote on the ratification of the US Constitution were chosen in special elections called specifically to address the issue.

And these special elections were open to all people living in the former colonies, and not just a minority, right?

This idea that our government rests on the sovereignty of the people who ratified the Constitution needs to be recognized as the legal fiction that it is.
6.13.2008 12:52pm
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

Euh, where to begin. This post is so slanted and wrong it's just not funny anymore.

This time, the French and Dutch governments refused to allow a popular vote.
Correction: There's no such thing as a referendum in Dutch constitutional law, the 2005 referendum was a one time thing. In France, holding a referendum is optional, at the discretion of the president, if memory serves. No rights or laws were voilated.

Also, with all due respect for a great European, Giscard D'Estaing was wrong. The big difference between the Constiutional Treaty and the Reform Treaty was that the latter explicitly did not purport to create a constitution (which is something only sovereign states have), and generally avoided the suggestion that the seeds of Federalism were being planted. This puts the Reform Treaty solidly in line with the previous amending treaties.

What do you mean democratic deficit? Directly elected European Parliament, a Council of Ministers akin to the US Senate pre-17th amendment and a Commission answerable to those two. If the EU is undemocratic, than so was the US before the 17th amendment.

À propos incomprehensibility: that's what you get if you try to construct a careful compromise between 27 sovereign states about a vast array of issues. Since the Constitutional Treaty, which was simpler, was considered too vague and therefore suspect (it left too much space for competence creep), everything had to be hammered down so that it would be clear what the EU would and would not have the competence to do. And yes, that leads to a document only lawyers can understand. That doesn't mean the document is faulty, it simply means it is a bad idea to hold a referendum about it. (Referendum about NAFTA or WTO, anyone?)

So, yes, I'm very disappointed at the result in Ireland. Still, you won't here me advocating a revote. We should just follow the rules laid down by the Nice Treaty, including its protocol on enlargement (which says the number of Commissioners can be reduced to a number lower than the number of Member States, by a unanimous vote in the Council). Let's not talk about amendments for at least 5 years, and focus in the meantime on explaining the dream of European Unity ("an ever closer union among the peoples [plural!] of Europe", a phrase that was shamefully absent from the Constitutional Treaty) to voters throughout Europe.
6.13.2008 12:58pm
martinned (mail) (www):
P.S.,

The detailed results from Ireland are here.

Yes lost by 862.415 vs. 752.451 votes or, less importantly, by 33 vs. 10 constituencies.
6.13.2008 1:05pm
Pliny, the Elder (mail):
Having been to most of the EU members (including Ireland and Portugal), and having lived in two (UK and Germany), I am somewhat pleasantly surprised by the vote. I think that the EU is huge and needs a few years of getting used to its current configuration, for instance getting more members in the eurpo zone, before making another round of changes, for instance adding Turkey. The Us has added only 27 amendments and 37 states during more than two centuries. Let the EU slowdown so that it remains a place that I would love to live again.
6.13.2008 1:10pm
Brian Mac:
martinnned:

The lovely Valery's view of the Treaty was hardly an outlier:


"The good thing is...that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters - the core - is left."

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Danish Prime Minister - Jyllands-Posten, 25 June 2007


"The substance of what was agreed in 2004 has been retained. What is gone is the term 'constitution'."

Dermot Ahern Irish Foreign Minister - Daily Mail Ireland, 25 June 2007


"The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable... The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success."

Karel de Gucht Belgian Foreign Minister - Flandreinfo, 23 June 2007


"The substance of the constitution is preserved. That is a fact."

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor - European Parliament, 27 June 2007
6.13.2008 1:13pm
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

@Brian Mac: The quotes from Rasmussen, Ahern and Merkel are true, if one agrees with them about what should be considered the true core of the Constitutional Treaty. The vast majority of substantive law would have been the same after the Reform Treaty as it would have been after the Constitutional Treaty, no question.

De Gucht, pardonnez le mot, is an idiot. (There's a reason why we Dutch always tell jokes about Belgians.)
6.13.2008 1:24pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
The North American Union will be coming soon and it will happen under the guise of a treaty. Just as the parliaments of Europe are trying to shove the EU down the throats of their people, our government will try the same stunt with the same intent: extinguish American sovereignty. Of course maps will still have a region labeled "United States of American," but in all ways that count Mexicans, (and others) will have effective American citizenship just as Puerto Ricans now. A compliant SCOTUS will decide that a treaty can trump the US constitution.

Don't be misled by martinned's blizzard of irrelevant technical details. He knows very well what's happening. The citizens don't want a stinking unification and except for Ireland they are denied the right to express their preference. You are seeing attempts to replace the nation state with the market state. We are also told that somehow it's not fair that your place of birth should determine your nationality so isn't everyone an American? Shouldn't everyone be able to go anywhere they want and collect welfare? And of course anyonr voicing opposition is immediaely labeled a "xenophobe" or a "nativist" if not an out and out bigot. Why present arguments when you can name call. Hate speech is not free speech.
6.13.2008 1:24pm
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

@A.Zarkov: Given the knee-jerk reaction in American law to anything that reeks of supranationality, I think your scenario is extremely unlikely.

As for what European Citizens do or do not want, the question is really whether they can be said to want anything at all. In a recent poll, less than half of European Citizens knew that the European Parliament, for which elections are held every four years, is directly elected. Being an economist as well as a lawyer, I'm thinking rational ignorance here, but I guess mentioning that is immediately going to get me labelled an elitist. As if that's a bad thing.

I hope I didn't bore anyone with all these technical details...
6.13.2008 1:38pm
Per Son:
martinned:

A.Zarkov is an uber troll. Don't bother responding to him.
6.13.2008 1:44pm
Bretzky (mail):
Per Son:


Nice try Brez, but I must differ. When is the states' turns to ratify or vote down a Constitutional Ammendment, it is up to the state to make that decision. It can hold a popular vote, or the State legislature can decide on its own. The people's redress is to vote the buggers out, or keep them in after the fact.

But that is different from creating an entirely new constitutional order, which is what the EU is now attempting to do, without direct input from the sovereign authority.
6.13.2008 2:00pm
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

@Bretzky: Yes, that's exactly the point. In its advice to parliament, the Dutch Council of State (akin to the Privy Council), whose job it is to give advice on all bills before they are sent to parliament, emphasised that the difference between the two treaties is less about substantive law, and all about whether it purports to "create an entirely new constitutional order".

While the treaty that was now voted down had implications for the constitutions of the Member States (which is why the Irish had to have a referendum), it did not purport to change the fundamental nature of the European Union.
6.13.2008 2:07pm
Bretzky (mail):
Raghav:



the men elected to vote on the ratification of the US Constitution were chosen in special elections called specifically to address the issue.

And these special elections were open to all people living in the former colonies, and not just a minority, right?

This idea that our government rests on the sovereignty of the people who ratified the Constitution needs to be recognized as the legal fiction that it is.

I think those elections were open to a larger number of people than you think. The elections were held on the basis of eligibility to vote in elections for the lower house of a state legislature, which, in all but a few states, included all white males above a certain age. And, in a few states, included all women and free blacks who met certain property qualifications (New Jersey is one that comes to mind).

According to the 1790 census, males totaled 50.9% of the white population. I'm not sure if that held for those above the minimum voting age and if those women and free blacks who could vote would have pushed the total above 50% on the citizen eligibility statistic given that there were states (like South Carolina) that restricted even white male suffrage.

My estimate is that around 40% of citizens were eligible to vote in the special elections.
6.13.2008 2:21pm
Bretzky (mail):
martinned:

I won't claim myself to be an expert on the Lisbon Treaty. I have actually "thumbed through it" a little bit though.

Given all the words expended in the document discussing the EU Parliament, Court of Justice, and similar institutions, I wouldn't blame Europeans for thinking that the Lisbon Treaty was a constitution by another name. It seems to be a consolidation of power at the EU level.

I'm not making any comments on whether such consolidation is good or bad from a practical standpoint, but it does seem to me that such a consolidation should be voted on directly by the people. The only reason that EU governments seem disinclined to hold such elections is because they believe the people will vote no. Not holding an election because you think you will lose is the worst possible reason to do so.
6.13.2008 2:32pm
Bretzky (mail):
Raghav:

I should have said my "guess" instead of my "estimate," as I don't have hard numbers in front of me.
6.13.2008 2:34pm
Dan Weber (www):
it did not purport to change the fundamental nature of the European Union.

When someone tells me "this really isn't that important" while simultaneously insisting "you really should sign it!", it's time to get a lawyer.

Or, if you cannot afford a lawyer, just walk away.
6.13.2008 2:40pm
Smokey:
Per Son:
"martinned:

A.Zarkov is an uber troll. Don't bother responding to him."
Explain yourself, Per Son. And it had better be good.

Anyone who, without a shred of facts backing himself up, disparages another commenter as a troll for taking the time to present his [very rational] views in detail, is actually the troll.

That's you, Per Son. Get it? You are the troll ... or is it 'uber troll'?

People pushing a statist agenda, like martinned and Per Son, should look here and listen to a former KGB agent to see exactly where they fit in, and the part they're playing.


And CONGRATULATIONS to the great Irish! They have more sense than the rest of the EU put together, and they just demonstrated it by a comfortable margin. Kudos!
6.13.2008 2:43pm
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

@Bretzky: Fair enough. But all those institutions have existed since the 1950s. The only significant change in the EC's institutional setup since then is the fact that the Parliament has been directly elected since 1979. The Constitutional Treaty and the Reform Treaty both made some additional changes, such as reducing the number of members of the Commission to the point where no longer ever Member State had "their own Commissioner", a change that was in any event already possible under the Nice Treaty, and the creation of the post of President of the Council. (The creation of the position of EU foreign minister was an extension of the current position of High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, a position created in 1992 at Maastricht. Upon reflection, I suppose that could count as a second big change in the last 50 years.)

The current treaties are indeed very much of the nature of a constitution, especially if you compare them with the constitutions of federal states such as Germany, which are also based on the principle of conferred powers. This is something that has been recognised by the European Court of Justice as early as the early 1960s, in the landmark cases of Costa v. ENEL and Van Gend &Loos. Then again, the same can be said for the WTO treaty and the UN Charter, albeit with a more limited scope.

And yes, thinking you will lose can never be a reason not to have a vote. Which is why I am against referendums of any kind, always. (Although not so much so that I did not vote in 2005.)
6.13.2008 2:49pm
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

@Smokey: I very much resent the accusation that I have a statist agenda. On the contrary. I think between the EU and the Dutch government, they should stop doing at least half of what they're currently occupied with. I also think, though, that the question of what should be done by any government is a separate question from the issue of which level is the best level for a given policy field, or the question of democratic accountability at each level.
6.13.2008 2:51pm
Jack S. (mail) (www):
hoo wee, Kopel is just an expert on everything, even EU politics.

Maybe you could explain what Ireland is saving the EU from rather than regurgitating the talking points of the organization whose entire goal was to derail the treaty in the first place.
6.13.2008 2:55pm
Syd Henderson (mail):

[David Kopel, June 13, 2008 at 10:59am] Trackbacks
How the Irish Saved Civilization, Again
...

Treaty proponents lamented that Ireland, with only 1% of the EU population, could derail a 27-nation treaty. But the very fact that only 1% of the EU's population was allowed to vote on a treaty which would massively reduce national sovereignty and democratic accountability was itself an illustration of the enormous "democratic deficit" of the EU in general, and the Lisbon Treaty in particular. According to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Lisbon Treaty would be defeated in every EU nation if referenda were allowed....


So what was the referendum vote in the United States on the Treaty of Versailles, UN Charter, North Atlantic Treaty, NAFTA, etc? We don't have referenda on treaties, either.
6.13.2008 2:56pm
Smokey:
martinned:
I very much resent the accusation that I have a statist agenda. On the contrary...
OK, if you say so I'll accept it. But you really need to drop the 'L.S.' This ain't the insufferable Euroweenieland.

[i keed! maybe.]

Anyway, I was upset by the troll, not you. Sorry.
6.13.2008 4:48pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Smokey: No worries. After this evening's Netherlands v France Euro 2008 football match, I'm in such a good mood that it almost makes up for the Irish referendum fiasco.

The point is that often when I defend the EU in this kind of discussion, I'm put in a position where I'm expected to defend all its stupid statist overreaching overbroad laws. As far as I'm concerned, those are two separate discussions, and I definitely reserve the right to disagree with specific EU policies.
6.13.2008 5:25pm
dearieme:
The EU is essentially Vichy France by other means. Nearly 70 years late, perhaps, but well done to Ireland for coming down on the right side. How shameful that the British Government had promised the British people a referendum and then reneged on the promise.
6.13.2008 5:31pm
Vermando (mail):
"The EU is essentially Vichy France by other means"

Um, care to explain that one?
6.13.2008 5:40pm
Vermando (mail):
Someone should mention that not all of the states wanted to ratify the Constitution - that was the original intent, but the Founders realized they could never get unanimity and did not want some small state to hold things up so they inserted the 'ratification of 9/13 states' needed clause. Rhode Island, from what I understand, was essentially dragged in kicking and screaming.
6.13.2008 5:42pm
Letalis Maximus, Esq. (mail):
God bless the Irish. First Guinness, now this. Is there nothing they can't do?

Bravo, I say. Bravo.
6.13.2008 5:55pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Per Son:

A.Zarkov is an uber troll. Don't bother responding to him.


Thank you for the post as it exactly confirms my assertion that many without an argument start name calling.
6.13.2008 6:08pm
Per Son:
Well put my son.
6.13.2008 6:22pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
martinned:

"@A.Zarkov: Given the knee-jerk reaction in American law to anything that reeks of supranationality, I think your scenario is extremely unlikely."

Currently I think you're correct. I'm looking to the future. But notice how you implicitly discount the idea that Americans should want to retain and even protect their sovereignty. What's the problem with that? Tell us why it's to the advantage of the US to merge with Central America.

I'm not surprised that most Europeans don't bother to wade through hundreds or even thousands of pages of dense legal material. They instinctively know they don't want a super national European state and their past votes against the EU constitution confirms that. That's why the European parliaments don't want a referendum. I think Europeans attitude is one of "if it ain't broke don't fix it." Obviously the European elites want this supernational state because it means more power and money for them. Otherwise they would give up. And we see they won't give up. Stay tuned for round three.
6.13.2008 6:23pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@A. Zarkov: First of all, of the four referendums held about the Constitutional Treaty, two came out Yes and two came out No, and the total score for all referendums ever held about the EC/EU is a clear majority for Yes.

As for the benefit of giving up one's sovereignity, I can say it no better than Thomas Hobbes:


"To this warre of every man against every man, this also is consequent; that nothing can be Unjust. The notions of Right and Wrong, Justice and Injustice have there no place. Where there is no common Power, there is no Law: where no Law, no Injustice. Force, and Fraud, are in warre the two Cardinall vertues. Justice, and Injustice are none of the Faculties neither of the Body, nor Mind. If they were, they might be in a man that were alone in the world, as well as his Senses, and Passions. They are Qualities, that relate to men in Society, not in Solitude. It is consequent also to the same condition, that there be no Propriety, no Dominion, no Mine and Thine distinct; but onely that to be every mans that he can get; and for so long, as he can keep it. And thus much for the ill condition, which man by meer Nature is actually placed in; though with a possibility to come out of it, consisting partly in the Passions, partly in his Reason.

The Passions that encline men to Peace, are Feare of Death;
Desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living;
and a Hope by their Industry to obtain them. And Reason suggesteth convenient Articles of Peace, upon which men may be drawn to agreement. These Articles, are they, which otherwise are called the Lawes of Nature: whereof I shall speak more particularly, in the two following Chapters."

While one can definitely disagree with Hobbes' idea of these "articles of peace", it is clear that his analysis applies, mutatis mutandis, to states as well as to individuals. The last 350 years have shown that while the Westphalian system is an improvement compared to the previous system, it is still fatally flawed, in that it continues to lead us from one war to another. Since the peoples of Europe had enough of war, they decided to try the grand experiment that is European Integration. It's not perfect, and no one knows exactly where it's going, but it's the only hope we have of making sure that the 21st century turns out less bloody than the 20th. (Other suggestions are welcome, of course.)

Just think about it. With Kosovo independent, we now have 203 sovereign states, by the count of Wikipedia. The way we've been going, it's easy to see how that number could continue to go up, but very difficult to see how we could ever have two or more states become one, except slowly and gradually in the manner of the European Union. So either we start thinking about the end of the notion of a sovereign state, or we end up with everyone their own state. (And yes, that's what we call a hyperbole.)
6.13.2008 6:47pm
tim maguire (mail):
It seems to me the fact that nobody really knows what's in it is a good enough reason to spike it. Nothing but trouble comes from a document whose entirety nobody can grasp (the U.S. tax code, for instance).
6.13.2008 6:54pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
martinned:

You didn't tell me why it's to the advantage to the US to merge with Central America. It might be to their advantage, but I don't see the benefit to us. Instead you quote a rambling abstract discourse, which is what one generally gets from the multi-culturalists. Don't get specific, present a series of vague platitudes.

You're right a super state could prevent war. Look at the old USSR. The member countries were nominally at peace with one another, but the price for this peace was a brutal dictatorship. And that's the fear of a European super state.
6.13.2008 7:08pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@A. Zarkov: It's not in the US's interest to do anything resembling international law as long as you're winning. Then again, you haven't really been winning much since World War II, have you? (Considering the Korean War a draw, that makes the score 1½-2½. That counts the current Iraq war as a loss, since sooner or later you are going to have to leave there, without leaving behind a stable democratic government, and it leaves out Afghanistan entirely, since it's too early to tell how that one's going to end.)

Please don't get me wrong, it's a pity the US didn't win in Vietnam, and it's a pity you probably won't win in Iraq, but to quote Hobbes once again, "For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination, or by confederacy
with others, that are in the same danger with himselfe." (aka Even the strongest man must sleep.) At some point, and at a sad cost of human life, the US will discover that no amount of military might is enough, as long as it stands alone. And if the US want to avoid standing alone, it needs to accept international law, starting with the UN Security Council and NATO.

And please don't make the fallacious analogy with the USSR. The EU is a democratic polity, as it is, and the Reform Treaty would have made it more democratic still by strengthening the role of the national parliaments.
6.13.2008 7:17pm
qrstuv (mail):
"...would have made it more democratic still..."

When the supporters of this document did everything in their power to avoid direct referenda...

When the supporters of this document state their belief that direct referenda would defeat the document...

And when the document gets signed ANYWAY by a handful of powerful people, I think it's fairly clear that we are not looking at a democracy.
6.13.2008 7:46pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
martinned:

You keep not answering my question. I ask about Central America, and you write about Korea and Vietnam. Treaties to help keep the peace are quite different from a surrender of national sovereignty. A merger with Central America would be a kind of transaction where one party benefits more than the other. What rational person or nation would enter into such a transaction? Now if you want me give you a big list of the negatives to the US of such a merger, I will, but you and many others won't like it.

"And if the US want to avoid standing alone, it needs to accept international law, starting with the UN Security Council and NATO."


The UN is a useless organization for keeping the peace and NATO is essentially the US. Europe failed in the Balkans and NATO had go in to bomb the Serbs into submission. But those bombers were mostly re-painted US planes.

"And please don't make the fallacious analogy with the USSR."

It's not fallacious, the EU was originally designed as a plug in for a USSR-Europe merger. Seizing a rare opening Bukovsky was able to copy classified documents from the Soviet government. Here they are. You might also want to read the transcript of Bukovsky's Brussels talk.

Finally Europe looks more and more like the old USSR with thought crimes and restrictions on speech. Every day it get uglier.
6.13.2008 7:47pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@A. Zarkov: As I wrote in my previous comment, at present, as long as the US thinks it's winning, it has nothing to gain from looking for an alternative for the Westphalian system, i.e. nothing to gain from "a merger with Central America".

Yes, I know, all those thought crimes are evil and the US are a paradise of civil liberties. Little off topic, maybe, so let's save that one for another time.

Finally, I have nothing to compete with the extreme reliability of Sovjet sources when it comes to ascertaining why Jean Monnet and the others created the EEC, except maybe this. Why not quote it in full? I'm pretty sure there's no copyright on this.

The Schumann Declaration:

Declaration of 9 May 1950
World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.
The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.

Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.
With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point.

It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe. The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.

The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible. The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.

This production will be offered to the world as a whole without distinction or exception, with the aim of contributing to raising living standards and to promoting peaceful achievements. With increased resources Europe will be able to pursue the achievement of one of its essential tasks, namely, the development of the African continent. In this way, there will be realised simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions.

By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.
To promote the realization of the objectives defined, the French Government is ready to open negotiations on the following bases.

The task with which this common High Authority will be charged will be that of securing in the shortest possible time the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality; the supply of coal and steel on identical terms to the French and German markets, as well as to the markets of other member countries; the development in common of exports to other countries; the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries.

To achieve these objectives, starting from the very different conditions in which the production of member countries is at present situated, it is proposed that certain transitional measures should be instituted, such as the application of a production and investment plan, the establishment of compensating machinery for equating prices, and the creation of a restructuring fund to facilitate the rationalization of production. The movement of coal and steel between member countries will immediately be freed from all customs duty, and will not be affected by differential transport rates. Conditions will gradually be created which will spontaneously provide for the more rational distribution of production at the highest level of productivity.

In contrast to international cartels, which tend to impose restrictive practices on distribution and the exploitation of national markets, and to maintain high profits, the organization will ensure the fusion of markets and the expansion of production.

The essential principles and undertakings defined above will be the subject of a treaty signed between the States and submitted for the ratification of their parliaments. The negotiations required to settle details of applications will be undertaken with the help of an arbitrator appointed by common agreement. He will be entrusted with the task of seeing that the agreements reached conform with the principles laid down, and, in the event of a deadlock, he will decide what solution is to be adopted.

The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority's decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures will be provided for means of appeal against the decisions of the Authority.
A representative of the United Nations will be accredited to the Authority, and will be instructed to make a public report to the United Nations twice yearly, giving an account of the working of the new organization, particularly as concerns the safeguarding of its objectives.

The institution of the High Authority will in no way prejudge the methods of ownership of enterprises. In the exercise of its functions, the common High Authority will take into account the powers conferred upon the International Ruhr Authority and the obligations of all kinds imposed upon Germany, so long as these remain in force.





@qrstuv: You're confusing the question of how such a treaty is to be ratified, which is a matter for the member states, with the question of how democratic the polity is that is created by said treaty.
6.13.2008 8:17pm
Kirk:
Vermando,
Rhode Island, from what I understand, was essentially dragged in kicking and screaming
My son has a shirt (I think maybe from thoseshirts.com) with an outline of the state, and the words "Rhode Island--Last to Ratify!"
6.13.2008 8:53pm
qrstuv (mail):
No, martinned, I am not.

If the US Constitution had been anywhere near as unpopular as the EU one, it would not have been ratified. It was not ratified against the voters' wishes.
6.13.2008 10:03pm
SIG357:
This idea that our government rests on the sovereignty of the people who ratified the Constitution needs to be recognized as the legal fiction that it is.

Sounds like somebody wants to overthrow the US government.
6.13.2008 10:30pm
SIG357:
What do you mean democratic deficit?


If the rulers make the decisions without listening to what the people they supposedly represent want, as is the case in Europe, then I'd say "democratic deficit" is a very mild way of describing the situation. "Oligarchy" might be more apt.
6.13.2008 10:33pm
SIG357:
martinned

"The point is that often when I defend the EU in this kind of discussion, I'm put in a position where I'm expected to defend all its stupid statist overreaching overbroad laws."

Goodness me, I can't imagine why such a thing should happen!

Is it not the case that the EU is stupid, statist, overreaching, and over broad? It's a socialist construct from top to bottom.
6.13.2008 10:41pm
joey22 (mail):
Hooray for Ireland! Let's go back to the old days and starve together! Screw the common potato market! Those who benefit the most are always the most ungrateful - it's the same with children.

More seriously, the first dude was right about not feeding Zarkov. He's crazy.
6.14.2008 1:13am
A. Zarkov (mail):
joey22:

Countries can trade without relinquishing their sovereignty. And BTW thanks for providing yet another example of someone who has no argument and must resort to name calling.

martinned:

"@A. Zarkov: As I wrote in my previous comment, at present, as long as the US thinks it's winning, it has nothing to gain from looking for an alternative for the Westphalian system ..."

I'm not sure what "winning" is this context means, nor can I see how Central America is going to rescue the US if it starts "losing" as I suspect they will be even bigger losers.

"Yes, I know, all those thought crimes are evil and the US are a paradise of civil liberties."


So far the US unlike Europe is not prosecuting people for writing books and articles or giving speeches. Look at what happened to Oriana Fallaci. Prosecuted for writing a book The Force of Reason. Then we have Brigitte Bardot fined 15,000 Euros (her 4th conviction) for writing a letter to the French Interior Ministry arguing Muslims should stun animals before ritual slaughter. Funny thing about these Europeans they put people in jail for being critical of Muslims, but look the other way when Muslims actually incite violence against Jews.

You bet, America is a paradise of civil liberties compared to Europe.
6.14.2008 2:18am
David M. Nieporent (www):
A merger with Central America would be a kind of transaction where one party benefits more than the other. What rational person or nation would enter into such a transaction?
In virtually every transaction, "one party benefits more than the other." What rational person or nation would refuse to enter into a transaction merely because someone else benefited more from it?
6.14.2008 5:11am
Mr. Wizard:

Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing explained: "Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly... All the earlier [EU Constitution] proposals will be in the new text [Lisbon Treaty], but will be hidden and disguised in some way."


A citation might be nice. In my experience, it is rare that a powerful figure boasts in a public forum of the cleverness of his evil machinations -- that is, outside of a James Bond film.
6.14.2008 5:28am
martinned (mail) (www):
@A.Zarkov: Yes, apart from the classic five, here in the Netherlands we have very little in terms of liberty. People get sent to jail for things they were acquitted of, they get randomly arrested on accusation of terrorism and whisked off to some "black site", etc. O, wait, that could never happen, because we have the ECHR to tell the government to stay off our civil liberties.

(In case you were wondering, the classic five, which don't have very much to do with human rights but which are a good example of not banning things unless there's a good reason to, are abortion, euthanasia, weed, prostitution and gay marriage.)

@SIG357: Of its own the EU is nothing either way. It is a polity, to use the most neutral term, and those that sit in its governing bodies can make policies that they think are wise within the limits of the powers that have been conferred by the Treaties. (Unlike, say, my national government which is only restrained by human rights. No conferred powers there...)

And yes, just to say it again, the EU needs to stop talking about amendments and start talking about why it is such a good thing. It started out being wildly popular, and to this day most countries that join the Union do so with a large majority popular support, but among the existing member states, it has an image problem.

What I've been thinking about fixing that image problem:
In Europe, one can think Iraq was a just war, or not. (Actually, I suppose that possibility exists pretty much everywhere outside of Texas, but never mind.) If one considers Iraq to be a just war, it is an argument for the grand experiment because the point of it all is to make such bloody interventions unnecesary. The EU is about encouraging and maintaining democracy, rule of law, etc, about making the world safe for democracy. (Think of countries like Spain, Greece or Portugal, that have very little in terms of democratic history, but nevertheless have never wavered since they joined the Union.)

If one is of the opinion that Iraq was not a just war, Iraq is also an argument for the grand experiment. After all, it is equally about creating a world where bullies don't invade other countries just because they feel like it. It's about being united in strength.

Point is, we have to find a new way to explain why Europe is a good thing. The Schumann declaration talked about the war that had just ended, and talking about World War II is what Europhiles have done ever since. But there aren't that many people alive today, %-wise, who remember that war, and it's becoming increasingly irrelevant as an argument for European Integration. So instead politicians talk about money, about improved economic growth, and voters undestandably respond that they won't sell their national identities, etc. for money.

But it has to be possible to explain European Integration by reference to all the bad things that are happening in the world today, things that don't happen within the Union because we've created an unassailable island of freedom and security in a very bad world. Like Schumann said, the Union is also about keeping each other honest. (=peaceful, democratic, etc.) And that argument has lost nothing of its force. (Or at least it shouldn't have, if it wasn't for the fact that voters, rationally ignorant or just plain ignorant, think that war in any case can never ever happen again.)
6.14.2008 7:17am
A. Zarkov (mail):
martinned:

"Yes, apart from the classic five, here in the Netherlands we have very little in terms of liberty."

You lack an important liberty: full freedom of speech and the press. We don't have laws that punish a citizen for speaking of writing something deemed "racism and xenophobia." I can publish something critical immigration. Can you? I can publish something critical of Islam. Can you? Rasoel (himself an immigrant) found himself in trouble for doing so. He was charged with racism for writing The Impending Ruin of the Netherlands, Country of Gullible Fools, NRC Handelsblad (Rotterdam), Dec. 17, 1992. His book was removed from the shelves. There is virtually no example of that kind of thing happening in the US. Prior restraint of the press is almost unknown. The Progressive Case, where the US government sought an injunction against a magazine for publishing an article that showed the design of nuclear weapons being almost the sole exception. And that got corrected quickly-- the article was published.

I don't know of anyone who worries he might get whisked off to a secret prison. You are really straining here. Detention of captured terrorists on foreign battlefields is hardly and example of a lack of liberty. But even that has changed with the recent SCOTUS decision.
6.14.2008 8:21am
martinned (mail) (www):
@A.Zarkov: Briefly, since we're straying off-topic:
- Whenever an overzealous bureaucrat attacks freedom of speech, that quickly gets corrected. Most recently this fiasco. The actual difference in free speech is being greatly exaggerated on blogs like this one. (And, once again, for those who forgot, we´ve had free speech since before the Mayflower, with people like Spinoza and Descartes who ticked everybody off and were more or less free to publish anyway.) Also, here is fitna. And if you´d like to talk about non-legal limitations on free speech, please start by explaining why Comedy Central can only broadcast the uncensored version of George Carlin shows in the middle of the night, and even then they had to have the naked boobies edited out.

- If the whole secret prison thing is no big deal, that what exactly happened to Joseph Padilla?

/back on topic now...
6.14.2008 9:16am
Thingumbob Esq. (mail) (www):
Hooray for the Irish! Jonathan Swift is smiling from above. How can a treaty that would be rejected by any nation's voters be disguised by "technocrats" as anything other than a naked power grab? These are the disgusting Malthusians who would oh so modestly propose the end to sovereignty. Let us send them all packing back to whatever oligarchical hell whence they came!
6.14.2008 9:52am
martinned (mail) (www):
@Thingumbob Esq.: Thank you for reminding me, that's one of the errors in the original post that I'd forgotten to clear up. This is the most recent Eurobarometer. On the question "Generally speaking, do you think that your country's membership of the European Union is...?" The replies are: A good thing: 58%, Neither good nor bad: 25%, A bad thing: 13%. (page 22).

In 19 out of 27 member states, a majority of respondents replied that membership was a good thing. (p. 23).

On pages 38-39, you can find the polling results with regards to the question of which policy fields the EU should become more involved in. The top 3 are organised crime, the environment and immigration.

P. 40: 61% of respondents "tend to agree" that "(OUR COUNTRY)’s voice counts in the EU" (down from 66% in the spring of 2007), and 30% of respondents "tend to agree" that "My voice counts in the European Union" (down from 35%), which makes sense in an EU of 450 million citizens.

These Eurobarometer reports are a gold mine for political scientists, since they have been asking the same questions since the 1970s. The results tend to show that, in general, the European Union continues to enjoy widespread support among the European population.
6.14.2008 10:45am
A. Zarkov (mail):
martinned:

"Whenever an overzealous bureaucrat attacks freedom of speech, that quickly gets corrected."

Your own link contradicts your assertion.

"On May 13, 2008 the cartoonist [Gregorius Nekschotwas] was arrested and taken into custody for interrogation. He was released after 30 hours, but is expected to be prosecuted for discriminatory speech,..."
You call that corrected? BTW is being arrested, interrogated and held for 30 hours in itself constitutes a punishment, and serves to chill speech. Such behavior makes people engage in self censorship.

The actual difference in free speech is being greatly exaggerated on blogs like this one.

How is that? We have we said that's an exaggeration? BTW you still have not answered the question as to whether you feel free to publish a criticism of immigration or Islam.

" ... we´ve had free speech since before the Mayflower ..."

You don't have it now. Hint: Europe is headed in the wrong direction.

"And if you´d like to talk about non-legal limitations on free speech, please start by explaining why Comedy Central can only broadcast the uncensored version of George Carlin shows in the middle of the night, ..."


I will talk about it. As a private party a TV network or station has the right to determine what it publishes. They has no power to arrest, interrogate, detain and prosecute anyone for anything. If the network were forced to publish George Carlin shows, then we would have compelled speech and freedom of speech includes the right not to speak. It's true that in the US the government through the FCC can and does prohibit obscene material from being broadcast on the public airways. I personally think they go too far, and I think "obscene" is hard to define.

"If the whole secret prison thing is no big deal, that what exactly happened to Joseph Padilla?"


I didn't say secret prisons were no big deal. I said "I don't know of anyone who worries he might get whisked off to a secret prison." Obviously the Padilla matter was a big deal and that's why it went to the Supreme Court. To put it another way, I don't detect any widespread fear in the US that people are in danger of being put in a secret prison.
6.14.2008 12:18pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"The [poll] results tend to show that, in general, the European Union continues to enjoy widespread support among the European population."

So why did Europeans keep voting down the EU constitution? In the one case where the treaty was put to a referendum it got voted down too. Perhaps the problem is with the polls. I've designed polls, and I'll let you in on a secret. You can get virtually any result you want by phrasing the questions properly and monkeying with the sampling frame.

It looks to me like many Europeans don't want to cede power to Brussels, and I don't blame them. Listen to the former Belgium Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene: "Parliament is the heart of representative democracy, not referendums." This is Soviet style thinking. In other words, we politicians know what's good for you.

One thing you seem to be missing with all these polls is that the Irish are less hostile to the EU than (say) the British. They rank at the top of polled nations in thinking the EU has benefited them economically. So if Ireland votes down the treaty then you can be sure the UK would too along with many other countries would too. The treaty advocates know this and that's why they don't want to put it to a popular vote.
6.14.2008 12:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Hans-Gert Pöttering, the president of the EU parliament to the Irish: Drop dead. He declares:
For its part, the Irish Government together with its European partners will now be required to make proposals as to how to proceed from here. The Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held next week in Brussels will have to address the situation after the Irish referendum and will offer the Irish Government an opportunity to take stock and put forward proposals.
The Irish said "no!" Why do they have to make proposals? If you ask a woman to marry you and she says "no," is she required to make some kind of counter-proposal? No is no.
6.14.2008 12:58pm
SIG357:
The comparison to the ratification of the US Constitution strikes me as quite lame. No, it did not entirely meet modern standars for democratic participation. But by the standards of the time it was revolutionary in its openness to democratic participation.

This EU nonsense is notabably less democratic than what the American Fouders did hundreds of years ago.


apart from the classic five, here in the Netherlands we have very little in terms of liberty.

You do not have the freedom to control the destiny of your own country, so you don't have any freedom at all.


the classic five, which don't have very much to do with human rights but which are a good example of not banning things unless there's a good reason to, are abortion, euthanasia, weed, prostitution and gay marriage.)


Those are the adolescent five. You'll give up your adult freedoms if only sombody grants you the freedom to indulge in your adolescent desires - getting high and getting laid.



Of its own the EU is nothing either way. It is a polity, to use the most neutral term, and those that sit in its governing bodies can make policies that they think are wise within the limits of the powers that have been conferred by the Treaties.

Which is a roundabout and evasive way of saying that it is a govenment with no checks and balances at all, and one which created itself rather than being created by the people. As I'm sure you know, there are NO "limits" to the powers confered by the (never ratified) Treaties.



What I've been thinking about fixing that image problem:
In Europe, one can think Iraq was a just war, or not. (Actually, I suppose that possibility exists pretty much everywhere outside of Texas, but never mind.)


What are you, eighteen years old? But never mind.
6.14.2008 1:27pm
Raghav (mail) (www):
Bretzky: My estimate is that around 40% of citizens were eligible to vote in the special elections.

Firstly, I think free blacks can be safely ignored, since even in New Jersey, they formed less than 2% of the population. (And New Jersey was the only state to permit women's suffrage.) Secondly, this figure is complicated by the fact that the referendum wasn't a national one, and several states had much larger disenfranchised populations. (Virginia and South Carolina were over 40% black.) I think it's fairly clear that in virtually all the states, only a minority was enfranchised.

SIG357: Sounds like somebody wants to overthrow the US government.

Not me.
6.14.2008 2:02pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@A. Zarkov: Look at what you wrote again:

It looks to me like many Europeans don't want to cede power to Brussels, and I don't blame them. Listen to the former Belgium Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene: "Parliament is the heart of representative democracy, not referendums." This is Soviet style thinking. In other words, we politicians know what's good for you.

You do notice where he said representative, I repeat, representative democracy, right? Representative democracy is the system in the majority of EU member states, and in the majority of US states, as well as the federal level. If you have a problem with it, take it up with Edmund Burke. (Or at least offer something more than ill-considered and unsupported statements.)

As for what Pöttering said, I've said several times in this thread that that is not my preferred next step, but I don't see a problem with asking the Irish government whether some accomodation might not be made.

@SIG357: No checks and balances? Have you no clue at all what you're talking about? A few years ago I did my stage in the Secretariat of the Council, working in the department where they coordinated the negotiations with Parliament for those legislative dossiers that go to a Conciliation Committe. (art. 251(4) EC, in case you were wondering) Let me assure you that Parliament and Council tend to have very different outlooks, based on their different backgrounds, and frequently end up duking it out in a Conciliation Committe.

Then there is the relationship between the Commission, which has the sole right of initiative, but very little control over the dossier afterwards, and the legislative branches. Under art. 250(1) EC, the Commission, after it has made the proposal, can force the Council to vote unanimously if it wants to accept an amendment the Commission does not like.

Finally, there is the European Court of Justice, which annuls any EU secondary legislation as well as any national legislation, if it violates the Treaties. Art. 230 EC.

Feast your eyes on all these checks and balances.
6.14.2008 2:13pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"You do notice where he said representative, I repeat, representative democracy, right?"

On a specific issue how is a referendum less representative than a parliament? The Communist party in the USSR also asserted it was representative.

If you want real democracy you will find it in some New England towns where all issues at are subjected to the direct will of the people. Literally a referendum on everything. Of course the apparatchik mind recoils at the notion of direct democracy. As does the monarch.

"Sire, the people are revolting!" "They certainly are, they stink on ice!" From History of the World: Part I
That's pretty much the attitude of people like Jean-Luc Dehaene and Hans-Gert Pöttering.
6.14.2008 3:24pm
martinned (mail) (www):

Main Entry: rep·re·sent
Pronunciation: \ˌre-pri-ˈzent\
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French representer, from Latin repraesentare, from re- + praesentare to present
Date: 14th century
transitive verb
1: to bring clearly before the mind : present [a book which represents the character of early America]
2: to serve as a sign or symbol of [the flag represents our country]
3: to portray or exhibit in art : depict
4: to serve as the counterpart or image of : typify [a movie hero who represents the ideals of the culture]
5 a: to produce on the stage b: to act the part or role of
6 a (1): to take the place of in some respect (2): to act in the place of or for usually by legal right (3): to manage the legal and business affairs of [athletes represented by top lawyers and agents] b: to serve especially in a legislative body by delegated authority usually resulting from election
7: to describe as having a specified character or quality [represents himself as a friend]
8 a: to give one's impression and judgment of : state in a manner intended to affect action or judgment b: to point out in protest or remonstrance
9: to serve as a specimen, example, or instance of
10 a: to form an image or representation of in the mind b (1): to apprehend (an object) by means of an idea (2): to recall in memory
11: to correspond to in essence : constitute
6.14.2008 5:23pm
one of many:
If you want real democracy you will find it in some New England towns where all issues at are subjected to the direct will of the people. Literally a referendum on everything.
Please don't. Special town meeting in February to expand the plowing budget, then a referendum on whether to change the plowing contract or plowing contractor, and then another one to create a special assessment to cover the increased money spent on plowing - and you have to travel on roads which are slick with ice to get to the meeting because the plowing budget ran out three storms ago.
6.14.2008 5:34pm
martinned (mail) (www):
If anyone's still reading this thread, I'd like to ask a question about self-determination.

When I lived in Ireland, I studied Irish and English law, and one of the cases we had to study, which particularly fascinated me, was the 1985 House of Lords case of Sidaway v Bethlehem Royal Hospital, the classical case on informed consent to medical treatment. One of the interesting things about that case is that it shows a key flaw in the system of having concurrences and dissents, or worse, of having each judge write their own opinion, the way the House of Lords still works.

Between the five law lords in that case, they announced three different rules for informed consent: the amount of information a reasonable doctor would provide (i.e. analogous to other areas of medical malpractice), the amount of information a reasonable patient needs, and the amount of information a doctor can reasonably give.

The analogy with some of the issues that came up in this thread is that in informed consent, too, the law has the impossible task of balancing a principle with the harsh truth. The patient, alone, decides what happens to them. They have to give consent, otherwise the treatment would be battery. However, in practice it is impossible for the patient to take this decision without first spending several years in medical school. So instead the law requires that the doctor carefully explain what he is proposing to do, after which the patient gives their consent.

So why is it becoming increasingly impossible to apply the same approach to politics? It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the position that voters delegate power to legislators because it is essentially impossible for them to become informed enough to take law-making decisions themselves. The founding fathers discussed the difference between republics and democracies, and had little difficulty arguing for the former. A century later, Mill wanted to give the educated more than one vote, just to be sure. To be sure, in those days a referendum would have been more difficult to organise, but that was not the point of their argument.

One of the most interesting, at least to me, kinds of posts on the Volokh Conspiracy are prof. Somin's posts about rational ignorance. And yet here we have a post by his fellow Conspirator David Kopel implying that it is a disgrace that referenda weren't held in all 27 member states. Referenda are great if everyone's a lawyer. I read the Reform Treaty as soon as the first consolidated version became available, and I didn't find it particularly difficult to understand. Then again, I have a degree in European (=EU) Law. I know what the terms of art in the Treaty mean, and I know pretty much how this treaty compares to the status quo ante. (Not in all chapters, I admit. I know more about some fields of law than others. But at least I'd know how to look it up.)

What explains this referendum fad? Is it only going to get worse? As evidenced even in this thread, these days if one says that referendums are a bad thing, people look at you as if you're a leper, as if you'd just professed to being a fan of Hitler. What's up with that?
6.14.2008 7:04pm
Smokey:
martinned:
At some point, and at a sad cost of human life, the US will discover that no amount of military might is enough, as long as it stands alone. And if the US want to avoid standing alone, it needs to accept international law, starting with the UN Security Council and NATO.
That statement could only come from the mindset of someone who can think of no possible alternative to the absolutly and hopelessly corrupt and devious UN.

A much better course of action for the U.S. would be to promptly cease all payments into that kleptocracy of America-haters, and to begin doling out the $billions unilaterally only to those countries that are friendly to America, both in deed and in their public statements of support. The payoff would be immediate and extremely beneficial to American taxpayers -- whose earnings are now taken and shoveled into the pockets of the UN theftocrats and the national leaders who appoint them.

Please explain how a change like that would make the U.S., as you state, 'stand alone'? It would absolutely result in many more countries taking our side on the world stage than is currently the case in the rabidly anti-American UN. They take our $billions and hate us out loud and constantly. That certainly creates a more dangerous situation than my reasonable proposal above.
6.14.2008 7:12pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
one of many:

Funny when you drive through Vermont and New Hampshire towns after a snow storm the roads are pretty clear. I lived in New York City for more than 30 years and the snow removal was dreadful. Outside of Manhattan, snow removal was virtually non-existent at times. NYC is the very antithesis of direct democracy. Better to call it no democracy.
6.14.2008 9:56pm
~aardvark (mail):
What a bunch of insular crap! If only Kopel knew as much about the EU as he thinks he does about the Second Amendment, at least, he would be able to exercise an informed opinion. He'd still be wrong, but perhaps he'd be able to explain it rationally. Instead, he spouts opinions on subjects that he barely understands--might as well delve into morphology of East Asian languages. And what does he cite to back up his opinion? EU Referendum--a fine blog in its own right, but so radically opposed to the EU, it can hardly be cited for rational opposition. It's one thing to mock shortcomings of a system--it's a fun sport and is well worth supporting. But every system has some facets worth mocking--some more, some less. That's what EU Referendum does on regular basis. But to take that and translate it into some sort of a rational argument against the system, in principle, is absurd.
EU, as a political enterprise, has a lot of problems and inconsistencies. The Constitutional Treaty and now the Lisbon Treaty had attempted to fix some of those problems. No doubt, in the process, they would have created other problems. It's normal for a developing enterprise. It's an open question whether this development would have been an improvement. It may well be worth debating and analyzing. But neither Kopel nor his sources appear to be rational enough to get to that point. It's much easier just to dismiss everything new as bad.
As for the comments, some are just hilariously uninformed and meaningless. Quoting any Belgian politician, for example, for any purpose should always come with a mountain of salt--don't forget that Belgium was stuck without a government for nearly a year and nearly got to a point of splitting up because the Walloons and the Flemish could not agree on some fairly minor parliamentary points. But, of course, there are less obvious issues.
Most things in EU work by consensus. This was fine for the EEC when it consisted of six members (even then the French were particularly obstinate). But now with the inclusion of the East European states--the likes of Romania and Bulgaria--the issues and the dynamic are completely different. It is unreasonable to maintain decision-by-consensus model. But that's one of the things that the new treaties were supposed to have changed. The problem? Still need consensus to agree on abandoning it.
Again, it's just a taste of the kinds of issues these people are dealing with. But does Kopel look carefully at what is going on in Europe? Does he actually read the treaties? the ECJ opinions? Or does he just believe that EU is just a larger version of NAFTA because EU Referendum says so?
Advice to EU skeptics--go to Europe, see for yourself. Then pull out history books and find out what's going on. Until then, Big Brother Kopel will be your guide, because ignorance is strength, you know. When you have strong opinions, it's better not to know the facts lest you be confused by them.
6.14.2008 10:06pm
SIG357:
As evidenced even in this thread, these days if one says that referendums are a bad thing, people look at you as if you're a leper, as if you'd just professed to being a fan of Hitler. What's up with that?


I never said you were fan of Hitler. I'm sure that your authoritarian tastes lie in a different direction. But your contempt for democracy is plain to see.



It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the position that voters delegate power to legislators because it is essentially impossible for them to become informed enough to take law-making decisions themselves.

I think everybody else has no problem in understanding that the things the people delegate to their representatives are the mundane everyday decisions. The question of whether or not to abolish ones country is not the sort of thing which parliments have the authority to answer. All power comes from the people, and only they can dissolve themselves.


What explains this referendum fad?

The desire to keep people like you away from the levers of power.
6.14.2008 11:36pm
SIG357:
Advice to EU skeptics--go to Europe, see for yourself.

Why, thank you. I have been to Europe, and I have seen for myself. But I appreciate the helpful advice.
6.14.2008 11:40pm
SIG357:
A few years ago I did my stage in the Secretariat of the Council, working in the department where they coordinated the negotiations with Parliament for those legislative dossiers that go to a Conciliation Committe. (art. 251(4) EC, in case you were wondering)

Yes, thanks for clarifying that point.

Has anyone ever hinted to you that you might be ... how shall I phrase this, a pretentious ass?

Nobody cares that in your own mind, you are the Grand Poobah Of European Constitutional Law. You'd be better employed in making arguments from first principles instead of these appeals to authority, where your authority is yourself.
6.14.2008 11:47pm
SIG357:
Then there is the relationship between the Commission, which has the sole right of initiative, but very little control over the dossier afterwards, and the legislative branches.

And what about the actual people? What is their relationship to any of these entities? Do they figure at all in your schemes, other than as pawns to be manipulated?

They seem distinctly unwilling to go along with your wonderful plans. Maybe the problem is not them, but you.
6.14.2008 11:55pm
TonyRyan (mail):
We Irish just like to be difficult. It's our way.
6.15.2008 6:50am
martinned (mail) (www):
@SIG357: You may want to look up the difference between an argument from authority and someone telling someone else about something they actually saw with their own eyes.

... and pretentious ass, well, only when I'm in a bad mood.

@Smokey: We can abolish the UN if you like, as long as something is put in its place. People have been talking about a league of democracies, to which only democracies would be admitted. The big problem with that is that you can't draw the line clearly and objectively enough. (Is Russia a democracy? I'm sure they would say they are....) If someone can come up with a good way to fix that problem, I'd happily trade in the UN for such a league.

(Actually, maybe we should have them both, just to be sure. Along the lines of keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Just to be sure. They do have nukes, after all, so probably we should continue to have some forum to at least talk to them. But at least we would be able to do away with things like UN peace keeping, which could be taken over by the new league.)
6.15.2008 7:10am
martinned (mail) (www):
O, and given how many Conspirators and Commenters clerked for Supreme Court justices or other prominent judges, I (apparently in error) assumed that mentioning that I used to intern in Brussels wouldn't get me accused of arrogance or other malfeasance. My bad.
6.15.2008 7:12am
markm (mail):
martinned: "What explains this referendum fad?"

People are realizing that there is a huge principal-agent problem with their elected representatives when it comes to how far government powers are allowed to reach. The great majority of the voters may want restricted government, but that goes against the interests of every politician with real power, and when that is balanced against the politician's desire to be re-elected, often the decision is that they can buy some votes with other persons' money, and bamboozle enough of the rest. For one example, look at the laws passed by state legislatures supposedly in response to Kelo; a few of them genuinely restrict the eminent domain power within a state to public powers, but more often the legislators have written a law that changes nothing but lets them pretend that they did something. For another example, take the entire Bush administration (...please) - elected under a pretense of being for smaller government, Bush has expanded federal powers more than any president since the 1970's, and it took six years for most Republican voters to notice.

In the particular case of the EU constitution, which is a more fundamental change than even rewriting a national constitution, rational ignorance is hardly the issue. Any citizen of an EU with any interest at all in the affairs of their nation will learn what they can about that. And if the document in question is essentially unintelligible, that is still enough information to conclude that the politicians are once again trying to put something over on the people.
6.15.2008 12:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
martinned:

If you haven't done it yet, you might benefit from reading The Federalist Papers, which are available on the Internet. These essays were written to convince the states to adopt the Constitution. These papers are part of the founding documents of the world's oldest and most successful democratic republic. Also notice how short the US Constitution is compared to volumes that come out of the EU bureaucracy. George Washington warned us to be wary, and stay arms length from the Europeans-- his advice is still good.
6.15.2008 2:15pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@A. Zarkov: I have a hardcopy version at home. I've read some of them, but I haven't yet gotten around to reading it cover to cover. (At the moment I'm reading Isaiah Berlin. Also not bad.)

@markm: That makes sense, but the things you're saying are not unique to this day and age. Traditionally people have used the courts to stop laws they felt went too far. (Take Lochner, for example.) So what changed in the last few decades, and particularly since the end of the cold war?

As for the Reform treaty: it's difficult for a non-lawyer to understand for the same reason that many statutes are difficult to understand. Because it's a carefully crafted compromise that is designed to cover a large number of policy fields in one document, creating different legal rules for each. To make things worse, because this treaty, unlike the Constitutional Treaty, builds on what already exists, it has additional messiness due to its path dependency. For someone with legal training, though, it is not particularly unintelligble. The structure still makes sense, even after five rounds of tinkering. (SEA, Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and now this one.) After a few introductory articles, it covers the different policy fields. Next, it discusses the institutions, then the budget, and then there are a few dozen remaining stipulations that didn't fit anywhere else. That's it. Of course, it is written in the language of lawyers, but that seems to me to be a good thing. So I don't see any reason to believe the big conspiracy stories...

Actually, that's another big one that I've never seen adequately explained. The US constitution is unique in all the world in its simplicity. Even those statutes that together make up a large part of the UK constitution are much more difficult to understand. Here in the Netherlands they published a normal language version of the constitution last year, but not many people seem to have noticed. (Come to think of it, ours is pretty simple, too. About 120 short articles, which in printed form can't be much longer than the US constitution. Compare that to the French or German constitutions...)
6.15.2008 2:46pm
martinned (mail) (www):
To clear one thing up: I'm not saying simplicity is necessarily good. Because the US constitution is relatively simple, a lot of key constitutional law comes in the form of SCOTUS rulings instead. It's a more principles-based, common law type approach. Which should be preferred is a matter of taste and circumstances, I'd say.
6.15.2008 2:49pm
Toby:

So why did Europeans keep voting down the EU constitution? In the one case where the treaty was put to a referendum it got voted down too.

I'd say the reason was in the article

But the broader opposition seemed to stem from the sheer incomprehensibility of the Treaty. Even Taoiseich (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen admitted that he had not read the Treaty, which is over 400 pages long and deliberately written to be obscure.

Constitutions that wish to be accepted by the people should be relatively short statements of guiding principle. 400 pages is something else.
6.15.2008 2:58pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
With regard to scientific theories, Albert Einstein said, "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." When something gets excessively complicated, proceed with extreme caution. Look at a typical whole life insurance policy, and it you see it's virtually incomprehensible. A wise man stays away from such things. If you want life insurance buy simple term. Financial engineering is an even better example. Many structured products are so complicated that it's virtually impossible to understand them without access to special talent. For example you might need certain numerical solutions to Ito's equation to put the right price on a bond. Thus outfits Morgan Stanley can and do make excessive profits selling products their customers can't possibly understand. If I need lawyers to understand a referendum, then I'm going to vote "no," because chances are it's a flim flam. Even worse is hearing a politician tell me that some treaty he's forcing down my throat is in my best interest. When you hear a hard sell, run because you're about to be taken.
6.15.2008 5:09pm
Smokey:
martinned:
We can abolish the UN if you like, as long as something is put in its place... a league of democracies...
I've already explained my proposal: since our UN experience has poisoned the well, rather than join any kind of organization, the U.S. should deal with each country on a one-to-one basis for mutual benefit.

The result would be to reward friendly and supportive countries, and to cut off any financial assistance to those countries which exhibit hostility [such as preposterously naming America as one of the top 5 human rights violators in the world]. If a country wanted American largesse, it couldn't very well broadcast scurrilous accusations at us, while giving China, Russia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Ecuador, Myanmar, North Korea, etc., etc., a free pass.

This change would align most countries with the U.S. overnight, and end the devious meddling of the entirely corrupt, thoroughly anti-American UN; a huge improvement over the present, super expensive fiasco. The UN is courrupt to the bone, and our continuing membership will never change that; they've learned to game the system. Why should we continue to play their game?

Your EU mindset continues to favor some sort of "league." Don't you get it? It is in the best interests of this country to deal on an individual basis with other countries, so other members of a league or a group can't connive in smoke filled back rooms to turn the group against us -- as has been done in the UN [unless you believe it's A-OK to have Robert Mugabe on the UNHRC, pointing an accusing finger at the U.S., and a thousand similar examples of the UN biting the hand that feeds it].

I'm not saying that multiple member groups would never work. But we've given the UN about seventy years to do the things it promised. They've failed abjectly; all the UN has really accomplished is to get its hands ever deeper into American pockets, while demanding more, more, more U.S. money. Let's give one-on-one relations seventy years, then compare the results. Heck, I'd be satisfied with seven years.

[BTW, thanks for dropping that insufferable "L.S." at the beginning of every comment. Your posts are better for it.]
6.15.2008 5:09pm
Kirk:
martinned,
We can abolish the UN if you like, as long as something is put in its place.

You're just repeating the old
1. Something must be done
2. This is something
3. Therefore, this must be done
fallacy.

In fact, replacing the UN with literally nothing would be a huge step in the right direction. In the absence of the UN, it would be easier to form an Ad Hoc Coalition of the Willing (and Able) to address a particular issue, as no one could point to the UN's pretense to handle things as an excuse to not get involved.
6.15.2008 5:23pm
Kirk:
Smokey,

Your suggestion has some merit, but before we proceed down that road I'd like to hear how you plan to deal with the problem of "regulatory capture" among the members of an obviously-expanded State Department. State has not recently distinguished itself as a hotbed of pro-American feeling...
6.15.2008 5:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Smokey:

I agree with your analysis of the UN. Note only is the UN bad for the US, it's bad for the rest of the world too, especially Africa. The UN continues to push fighting the African AIDS epidemic on the basis of faulty data. This campaign draws resources away from fighting malaria, which is the real problem in Africa. The IPCC global warming effort is possibly another UN sponsored hoax. There is certainly probable cause to be skeptical of IPPC's conclusions regarding AGW. The science is not settled.

In short the UN is not only a failure at keeping the peace, it fails in many other ways as well. I do not understand how so many people are taken in by this obvious fraud. The UN is certainly worse than no UN. I'd like to know how my life would get worse if the UN disappeared tomorrow.
6.15.2008 6:16pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Smokey: I admit, it was not immediately obvious to me whether anything was wrong with your argument. There is of course the question of the ius ad bellum, which at present is organised through and around the UN Charter. Without the Charter, and the Security Council which is tasked with administering it, what is the difference between a just war an an unjust war? That is a legal question, rather than one of international relations.

But there is a more important problem. Creating ad hoc coalitions to deal with problems is cumbersome and costly (transaction costs, in technical terms), and it makes it more difficult to make multi-issue compromises.

In (economic) bargaining theory, the idea is usually that if a proposal has more benefit for one party than it costs to the other, they should be able to find some way to compromise. In theory, that is done through side-payments; the one that benefits reimburses the one that loses out. In most walks of life, that is pretty much what happens, but in politics it's a little more difficult. Instead of paying cash, diplomats tend to construct issue linkages, so that policy question one where A wins and B loses is connected with question two where A loses and B wins, so as to create a mutually beneficial outcome. The biggest example in the history of diplomacy of this very question are the EU Treaties. (From day one, see the Schumann declaration above, the ECSC linked various questions about security and economic policy/reconstruction into a mutually beneficial bargain, and the trade-offs have only gotten more complex since.)

In the Security Council, such linkages are less explicit. That is possible because the same 15 countries sit at the table every week for a year, and the permanent 5 are there always. And because they know they will be seeing each other again next week, they don't have to "win" on every issue. If one permanent member gives in one week, the others will remember and make sure it all pretty much balances out in the end. If the US were to negotiate on an ad hoc basis, that wouldn't be possible.

As far as actual influence on state behaviour is concerned, the whole rest of the UN is essentially irrelevant. For the aesthetic symmetry of it all, we could hardly abolish the general assembly (not to mention that they elect the other 10 members of the Security Council), but the whole rest of the UN could be abolished without anyone on the ground noticing.

Finally, another problem with your analysis is that it obviously does not apply to all countries. As I noted before, this only works to the extent that the US really is the strongest bully in the playground. With Russia and China on the rise, it would be wise to exercise some foresight before letting go of international law at the benefit of international relations.
6.15.2008 6:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Kirk:

You bring up an excellent point. I personally think the US State Department has been compromised by Arab money. I can't prove it, but the number of former State Department people now working as lobbyists or lawyers for the Arabs does not sit well with me. The Albright Group (as in Madeleine) represents the UAE. This applies to Senators as well. Bob Dole also works for the UAE. Current Senators seem to think that's peachy keen.
HUMAN EVENTS Assistant Editor Amanda Carpenter could not find a congressman on Capitol Hill last week who would say that former senators should not lobby for foreign governments.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D.-DEL): He hasn't spoken to me, and yes, former senators should be able to do it.

They should?

BIDEN: Yeah, if they've been out long enough, yes.

Bob Dole is a lobbyist for UAE. Should former senators lobby for foreign governments, in your opinion?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R.-OHIO): Under the 1st Amendment they have the right to do that, and it's something former members do and some don't.

Is it something you personally would consider in the future?

BOEHNER: I'm a majority leader, Fm not a lobbyist.

Well, in the future, after you are retired. Bob Dole was a leader as well.

BOEHNER: I'm not sure what I'll do after I retire.
You can read the full piece here. It really looks like the US government is for sale, so I guess we should not be surprised that we continue to pour money into the UN.
6.15.2008 6:30pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"With Russia and China on the rise, it would be wise to exercise some foresight before letting go of international law at the benefit of international relations."

Do you really think that international law will constrain a Russia or a China that achieve super power status? Especially if the US becomes so weak it can't challenge their aggressive actions? Making the US weak seems to be the agenda of much of the American and European left. I think the next US president might share that agenda as well.
6.15.2008 6:38pm
Kirk:
martinned,

Your apparent assumption that the UN is actually working on the basis of/in favor of International Law sounds very suspect to me.
6.15.2008 6:52pm
Smokey:
martinned,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I would reply, but Mrs. Smokey & I are going to a party, so maybe another time.

Parting thought: Zarkov's suspicions of payoffs from oil producers are based on fact: while Venezuela's people are doing without, Chavez gives free and cut-rate oil to anyone willing to oppose or badmouth George Bush. That's his criteria.

Furthermore, Saddam Hussein gave billions of dollars to anyone he thought could help him. Note in the link above [scroll down especially to Russia for some mind-boggling numbers] that Saddam was handing out billions of barrels of oil as part of the UN's Oil-For-Food scam. Cui bono? Not the U.S.; the UN.

Saddam was being closely watched, so he couldn't bribe enough to make the crucial difference. But think about all the other OPEC members. Nobody is watching them. Does anyone honestly believe that they are not bribing people in the U.S. government right now? Of course they are.

Since the downfall of Saddam, the UN/EU theftocrats had to find another source of money to replace the Oil-For-Food loot they were getting from Saddam. Without any doubt, they've found it from other Middle East countries which, no doubt, are also spreading it around Congress and the State Department.
6.15.2008 7:33pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@A.Zarkov: The way in which international law shapes state behaviour is a fascinating subject of study, and difficult to sum up in a brief blog post. At the very least, it forces states to point to a justification in law when they're doing something naughty. In any case, you know my answer to this problem: strengthening international regimes, not weakening them. The international system should and will evolve towards stronger safeguards. The WTO comes with its own dispute settlement mechanism, which includes penalties that, on some occasions, actually hurt. It's not perfect, but it's a start.

As to the question of whether the US is weak/weakening, I think big defence budgets will become increasingly useless as the techniques of "asymmetric warfare" develop. In wars like Iraq, Chechnya or Afghanistan, winning isn't a matter of budgets or even manpower, but of who wants it most. And that's rarely us. (= the west) I suppose it's time to find an answer to such wars, but personally I wouldn't know where to start.

@Kirk: The UN Charter sets three simple rules when it comes to the ius ad bellum. Paraphrasing:
1. Art 2(4) Charter: States will not use force or the threat of force to settle their disputes.
2. Art 51 Charter: Art 2(4) obviously does not apply to self defence.
3. Art 33 or thereabouts: The Security Council can authorise a measure involving the use of arms if that is necessary for restoring or maintaining the peace.

The problem with this regime is that it leaves humanitarian interventions such as Kosovo in the wind. (i.e. illegal.) Another problem is that it does not say anything about intra-state wars. However, the baseline is that state practice in the Security Council, against the backdrop of these three rules, defines the application of international law to conflicts on the ground. It was the Security Council, as the sole body in charge of defining what is or is not a "threat to the peace", that extended that definition to intra-state wars, and to Darfur-like violations of human rights. Their actions shape international law, when it comes to ius ad bellum and ius in bello. (= Geneva conventions c.a.)

In deciding what is or is not OK, the Security Council applies, shapes and defines international law.
6.15.2008 7:44pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
martinned:

The UN Security Council was impotent when the Soviet Union invaded Hungry in 1956 with 150,000 troops and 2,500 tanks. At first Security Council did nothing. Then on November 4, the USSR vetoed a resolution calling on them to end the intervention. The matter was then referred to the General Assembly which was also impotent to deal with the invasion.

In 1968 the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia. Once again the Security Council did nothing. Nor did the General Assembly. The community of nations did little or nothing to punish the Soviet Union.

In 1950 Red China invaded the independent country of Tibet. Tibet pleaded for help from the community of nations. Nothing. Tibet sent a letter to the Secretary General pleading for help. Letter ignored. Tibet writes a second letter. Also ignored. A nation falls prey to aggression and gets absorbed. We started WWII over the invasion of Poland.

I could go on and on about the failure of the UN to keep the peace or act against aggression. But you get the idea. The institution is worthless.

It might be useful to have a small body that could meet and negotiate. Let's form that and put it in a city in neutral country that's no so much fun for the diplomats, say Brasilia. With fewer parties to go to, the diplomats might actually take their jobs more seriously and get something done. You might even get a more sincere and qualified set of diplomats. Even the threat of such an action would scare the hell out of the current crew and make them more serious. They love their jobs in the big fun city of New York where they can't even get a parking ticket.
6.15.2008 8:45pm
cac (mail):
If you judge the merit of a proposal by who opposes it, you might wonder whether this is such a good thing. Leading opponents were Sinn Fein and the Greens. Surely the fact that opposition is led by terrorists and environmentalist fundamentalists should give you cause for concern?
6.15.2008 9:55pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@A. Zarkov: From the start, the setup of the Security Council has been a compromise between having a body that gets things done and having a body where the right people might get something done. If you and I agree that China's occupation of Tibet is a disgrace, the Chinese probably won't be very impressed...

And yes, that means that when one of the permanent members is the guilty party, the Security Council is normally going to find it impossible to act. The answer to that is not to set up a body that is even more impotent (your Brasilia suggestion, if I understand it correctly), but rather to encapsulate even the potential bad guys in a network of international law and international relations. Like in all circumstances, law alone is helpless. The law governs how Leviathan's sword gets used. Without law, there is no authority but only arbitrary power. A sufficient supply of carrots and sticks can only come from increased involvement.

Not that I would ever advocate "judging the merit of a proposal by who opposes it", but here's the whole list of No-supporters. (Yes side here.) In case you were wondering, Irish politics is a bit strange in that many of its parties still derive their "logic" from the Irish civil war (1921-1922). Fine Gael, the traditional biggest opposition party, is the pro-peace party of Michael Collins, Fianna Fail is the anti-peace party of Eamonn de Valera, and Sinn Fein, of course, is the peaceful wing of the (provisional) IRA.

Speaking of the IRA, the Stormont Agreements which finally made peace in the north set up some pretty unusual cross-border arrangements, where politicians from the North and from the South (i.e. the republic of Ireland) work together to make policies and laws that can apply on both sides of the border, though not to the whole island, if memory serves. From what I remember, it's a truly unique arrangement.
6.16.2008 5:30am
martinned (mail) (www):
For those who know German, here is the regular Monday column by former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, which is usually quite good and surprisingly conservative. (He keeps going after Iran, for example...)

While General Affairs council is meeting in Luxembourg to discuss what can be done to get this treaty ratified after all, Fischer thinks this is the end, for now. "A united and strong Europe will not happen for a long time now."
6.16.2008 5:47am
martinned (mail) (www):
For more, and neutral information, here's the Financial Times' Brussels Blog.
6.16.2008 7:36am
TGGP (mail) (www):
If only our country had been as fortunate to reject the Constitution and retain the Articles of Confederation. The dire predictions the Anti-Federalists made were proven right.
6.16.2008 11:06pm