UNITED STATES OF EUROPE
Henry Farrell has a couple of posts (top one linked) on the proposed new constititution for the European Union. If I’m understanding it correctly–and I may not be–it appears that they are contemplating a switch akin to the move the US made in going from the Articles of Confederation to the present Constitution. The inclusion of a “supremacy clause” in the draft document is especially interesting.
While I think, for reasons Friedman outlined in The Lexus and the Olive Tree, that eventual consolidation of Europe is probably inevitable, this would not seem the most propitious time to introduce such a move. Given the recent clash between the most prominent EU members over the Iraq war, one would think nationalist arguments would be even more persuasive. I can’t imagine either the UK or France would be especially inclined to cede more control to the other.
Perhaps I should make clear that the “doctrine of supremacy” isn’t something that is new in the proposed text – instead, it’s a legal doctrine that the European Court of Justice has pushed since the Costa case in 1964, and managed to get accepted, more or less, by everyone else. It’s not stated at all in the Treaty of Rome. The draft constitution does lay out which policy areas should be considered exclusive areas of EU level authority, which mix EU and nation-state competences, and which are reserved to the member states.
On the France and UK thing, funnily enough, this may be exactly the right time for both to accept more than they otherwise would. France has become more and more convinced that, as a second rank power (at best), its foreign policy interests are best served through international institutions that can magnify its influence. The UK under Blair clearly wants to tack back in a more pro-Europe direction – while it needs to preserve the “special relationship” with the US, the EU is perhaps even more important in the long run to British national interests.
France would secede power if it thought it could dominate the EU.