May 29, 2005. Paris, France -- Today voters in France voted overwhelmingly 'Non' to the European Union Constitution. This is a very troubling development for the tortured history behind this ambitious document, now over 300 pages long that attempts to unify a continent riven by many different opinions and ideologies. French confidence in the document was further eroded earlier this week when it was revealed that one copy of the proposed constitution was in fact a book written by Robert Jordan and the EU MP using it to stump for a 'Oui' vote never noticed until a sharp-eyed reporter broke the story in Le Monde. If the Netherlands next week also vote no on the proposed EU Constitution, people in and out of government across the continent are predicting the document would be dead. This would be a devastating blow to those in Europe who dream of the EU becoming a superpower to counter-balance the United States on the world stage. Inside French political circles this is seen as a punch in the face to President Chirac who invested much of his political clout and much government money in pushing for this document.
Some facts on the real document. It is 300+ pages long. In comparison the Constitution of the United States of America barely takes up two pages. Actually to call it a constitution is a misnomer since individual European states can veto on matters of foreign policy, taxation, and defense. In matters of defense there is an added wrinkle, it states that NATO matters will take precedence over EU matters for those countries that are members; NATO now stretches from the UK to the Ukraine which means there are non-EU countries in NATO. So the chances of the EU actually being martially puissant in the future under this document are close to zero, just like chances of getting the UN to actually authorize military force is actually close to zero. So in fact the proposed constitution is more like articles of confederation attempting to loosely connect, optimistically, twenty-five countries. And if the experience of the United States with its initial post-Revolution government being such a confederation, the self-interest of the individual states will paralyze the EU. Though the wildcard will be the non-EU members of NATO, how will NATO policies in regards to those counties impact the EU and its military posture?
People across the political spectrum in Europe do not like portions of this document, from the left[fearful of not enough social justice] to the right[fearful the free market ideas will be tossed out]; this is the challenge those who want this document is facing in France[social justice issues] and in the Netherlands[still smarting over what converting to the Euro did to their economy]. And unlike America which was a blank slate for Europeans to create a new country on, the people of Europe 'know' their history and identities along with their historical feuds so that will still be a barrier to a truly united Europe.
On a personal level, how can the EU bureaucrats expect the average citizen to read through 300+ pages that attempts to please everyone while offending no one. I would vote 'Non' just because it is so complicated.