Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What part of No..we've been here before

Sometimes I sit in my office and listen to the so called debates in the Parliament chamber through a nifty little device hidden behind the ashtray on my desk. Yesterday was one of those times. The speaker was the President of the Parliament Hans-Gert Poettering putting forward what he would like to achieve in his period of office which runs until 2009 and the European elections. It appears he would quite like it to run a little longer than that, 1000 years maybe..

What got me is when through the simultaneous translation he said "Treaties are to be obeyed".

Today I got the English transcript of the text from the Parliament interpreters hwo are given the text in order, sensibly, to make life easier for them,

"No country, no nation of the European Union is to be left alone with its problems. But this also rules out national selfishness. Anyone who only serves the interests of his own country will ultimately squander these as well, because he will destroy the solidarity necessary for the defence of those interests.

Sorry I cannot see the causal link in this statement. If you defend your national interest you are condemned to failing in defence of those interests. I guess we should all give up and go home to allow those nice technocrats to run everything. What utter twaddle. It is true that sometimes actions that are taken in the national interest are taken without full knowledge of the facts, and sometimes these actions are counter productive, however to suggest that all actions in the national interest are counterproductive is sophistry.

We intend to help to ensure that under the German Council Presidency a road map and a mandate are agreed at the summit in Brussels on 21 and 22 June, as the outcome of which full implementation of the substantive core of the European Constitution will be in place by the next European Parliament in 2009. I would like to remind you that the Constitutional Treaty was signed by all 27 governments. Of course we have to respect the results of the referenda.

This is where things get really serious. Please note the comment about the 2004 signing of the Constitution in Rome. Essentially when a head of government signs up, really that is all there is there. As far as I can gather and yes I do have this on good authority the plan is as this.

Over the last few weeks German diplomats have been subtle arm twisting to get a text together for the Berlin March 25, 50th anniversary signing of a solemn declaration by the 27 heads of government. This solemn declaration is 95% written and is a great waft of well meaning guff about the continents liberal tolerant history and how all governments in the 27 are terribly nice, and how we all love fluffy bunny wunnys and kiddiewinks and motherhood and apple pie and so forth. Then on the evening of the Brussels Council Meeting and International Woman's Day (8th March) at a dinner in Brussels the final phrases will be included. This phrase will commit the signatories to the ratification of a 'basic Law' which will replace the Constitution. It will be short, much less that 50 pages unlike the Constitution that weighed in at well over 300. The word Constitution will be expunged. It will as Mr Poettering points out contain the substantive aspects of the Constitution including the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister, the end of vetoes in 47 separate areas of policy and so on. Interestingly one on the signatories to this document will be the new Dutch Prime Minister who is expected to announce his cabinet the previous week. This of course means that one of the countries with the biggest interest in the new Constitution will not have been able to discuss its position in time for him to make a decision, he will be bounced.

Poettering went on,
But regardless of that:

That is the referenda results
If a change of government in a country of the European Union calls into question what has been agreed, not only is society split in that nation, but our continent, which is quite complicated enough, is increasingly incapacitated. We must commit to our European legal principles: pacta sunt servenda - treaties are to be honoured (not obeyed, but maybe the interpreter was more accurate than the prewritten text, I don't know).

Eh, run that past me again. If a country votes for a government that opposes the Constitution - and yes he does mean the UK here, wake up at the back - then he is suggesting that the government, you know, the democratically elected one has no right to recind a previous government's position. Yes treaties should be honoured, but pacta sunt servenda, (article 26) though it requires good faith on the part of the contracting parties doe snot require slavish devotion, any more than it seems to Mr Poettering and the Euro elite 'no parliament may bind its successor'.

And what is his problem? Democracy is complicated. Politicians do not always get their way when they feel like it. People are messy, and thank God for that. What this jumped up gualatier seems to want is a clean polished logical population who would act at his beck and call. Well piss of Hans, that is not how it works in practice.

Back to what is happening
Currently the Swedish government is taking a lot of pressure to start the ratification process. Of course the only country where there is a constitutional requirement to hold a referendum is Ireland, but they do not envisage serious problems there. Poland is weakening, its Prime Minister who once said that Poland would never ratify the Constitution is now making noises about the need for a mini treaty. The new Government in the Czech Republic is no longer nearly as hostile to the idea (though how they will persuade Vaclav Klaus to sign remains to be seen). Slowly and surely all the countries will be expected to submit to the 'basic Law' of the community until there is one left in glorious isolation, yup that'll be the UK again. Then we will be told, ratify or leave.

Now if under the dubious enforceability of pacta sunt servenda, Mr Blair signs up on March the 25th in Berlin, and then follows this up at the June summit, he then leaves, with Gordon holding an impossible baby. He will try, no doubt, to force this through like Major did the Maastricht Treaty. But I just don't think that that will wash.
He would be flirting with revolt.

Is that what Mr Poettering was talking about when he said that societies may split. He cannot really hope that this happens, can he?


Devil's Kitchen said...

Hmmm, I would suggest that the original translation was nearer the mark...

"servio : (+ dat.) to be a slave to, serve.
servitus : servitude, slavery.
servo : to watch over, keep, protect, observe, save, reserve.
servus : slave, serf."

Although it probably (my Latin GCSE was a long time ago!) derives from "servo" rather than "servio", the roots and understandings of the words are not so different.


Anonymous said...

I think you'll find that those pesky Danes also have to have a referendum due to their 'Grundlov'.