June 23, 2004
'EUROPE AT A CROSSROADS'
** Agreement on a new
constitution for the EU is a "positive" development.
** EU needs "urgent
change" to overcome "profound divisions" and a
** Skeptics call the
constitution "virtually unintelligible" and a threat to national
** British papers duel over
what may be "a defining national moment."
Constitution will 'empower' the EU-- Optimistic commentators welcomed last week's
"historic" agreement on a constitution for the EU, declaring it
"good news for Europe."
Germany's business daily Handelsblatt called the constitution
"a visible sign that the EU will become more than a union of individual
and sovereign countries." Another
German daily agreed that Europe's "movement towards a federation can no
longer be ignored." Papers in Japan, South Korea and India praised the
constitution as a "massive stride towards the vision of European
integration" and lauded its "innovative political, economic and
Citizens 'may not like' politicians' handiwork-- Even enthusiasts noted that the EU's
"hard work is only beginning."
EU leaders' failure to name a successor to Commission President Prodi,
said France's left-of-center Le Monde, "confirms the profound
divisions" among EU member states over the Union's future. Revealed in recent EU parliamentary elections
as "disillusioned, apathetic and uninterested," many EU voters will
not identify with the "institutional convolutions that their leaders now
call the European blueprint." A
"moment of truth" is on hand in countries where approval of the
constitution will be subject to referendum.
A 'flawed, imperfect' text--
Euroskeptics damned the document as marking "another step in the
surrender of powers from accountable national parliaments to unaccountable EU
institutions." Despite its
"lofty and improper name," asserted critics such as Italy's leading
business daily Il Sole-24 Ore, the constitution "is not much
different from the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice treaties that preceded
it." Rather than "clear,
concise, and easily comprehensible" it is a text "only experts can
understand." A Hungarian analyst
judged that history would reveal "the Constitution's true value" but
the EU "will hardly become a federation similar to the United States,
since each of its members guards its own interests heavily."
'Brits forced to show their cards'-- Italy's centrist Corriere della Sera
held that the British "were able to slow down the process of
integration" in Brussels; they showed, a Belgian outlet stated, that it
was "out of the question for them to make the least concession...that
might affect" UK sovereignty.
Conservative British papers mostly blasted the agreement, contending
Blair's interpretation of the pact "is impossible to reconcile with what
has actually been signed" and branding the document "melancholy
confirmation" of Blair's "tendency to be swept along with the
integrationist flow while protesting that he has somehow turned the
tide." Pro-EU journals said Blair
must "unapologetically" make the case for Britain "to engage
fully" in Europe and "persuade a doubtful nation why he is right and
they are wrong."
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media
Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a
representative picture of local editorial opinion. This report summarizes and interprets foreign
editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.
Government. This analysis was based
on 47 reports from 18 countries June
19-22, 2004. Editorial excerpts from each
country are listed from the most recent date.
Must Back The New EU Treaty"
The independent Financial Times commented (6/22): "Much is at stake for British business
in the coming referendum, and it is vital that the case for the treaty is
heard. The longer the delay in creating a well-funded and broad-based 'Yes' campaign,
the harder it will be to win public support."
"Blair's Gamble On His Country's Destiny"
Associate editor Philip Stephens wrote in the independent Financial
Times (6/22): "As long as the
political discourse about Europe is conducted in the language of victory or
surrender, with Brussels ever the enemy, the argument goes by default. The national 'sovereignty' so beloved of
Euroskeptics is an illusion. History
shows that Britain cannot escape the consequences of decisions taken elsewhere
"What's The Name Of The Game?
An EU Superstate"
Saturday editor Michael Gove contended in the conservative Times
(6/22): "The new European
constitution marks another step in the surrender of powers from accountable
national parliaments to unaccountable EU institutions.... Mr. Blair may consider this treaty a victory
for the British way of doing things, but it is, in truth, melancholy
confirmation of his tendency to be swept along with the integrationist flow
while protesting that he has somehow turned the tide."
"After Seven Long Years, The Prime Minister Comes Out
Fighting For The European Cause"
The center-left Independent stated (6/22): "We rejoice that Mr. Blair has finally
decided to present the case for the European Union, and Britain's place in it,
as though his political life depended on it--which, in a sense, it does. But we cannot help also regretting that he
has not deployed his barrister's training and talents to make the same case to
similar effect long before now."
"Vote 'No' For A Federal Europe"
Columnist Mark Steyn urged in the conservative Daily Telegraph
(6/22): "Britain's GDP per capita
is now higher than France or Germany's, and it's unemployment rate is
half. It's not the British people but
their EUtopian elites who are deeply ignorant--of comparative data, historical
precedent and basic arithmetic. The
reality for Britain in Europe is simple:
united we'll fall, divided we might stand a sporting chance."
"And Still Mr. Blair Isn't Listening"
The conservative tabloid Daily Mail asserted (6/22): "While proclaiming the EU constitution a
'success for Britain', his overriding aim is clearly to deny voters a say for
as long as possible.... And at no stage
in this whole miserable exercise have the deepest instincts of the British
people mattered a jot."
"Fact And Fiction"
The right-of-center tabloid Sun held (6/22): "The British public will judge the prime
minister in a harsh light if they find he has been less than truthful on an
issue which is crucial to this country's future."
"A Defining Moment"
The left-of-center Guardian contended (6/21): "Mr. Blair is right to make the case in
an unapologetic tone. He needs to
continue to do so and to be supported by others of all parties--including any Tories
still professing to be in favor of UK membership of the EU.... If this campaign merely becomes one in which
Mr. Blair tries to persuade a doubtful nation why he is right and they are
wrong, then an Iraq-style political disaster beckons. That must not be allowed to happen. This is truly a defining national
"A Treaty In Time"
The independent Financial Times editorialized (6/21): "The treaty may be a compromise, but it
represents a big improvement over the last effort, the treaty of Nice. It gives the EU a legal personality, simpler
procedures and more transparency. Every
government got some of what it wanted.
Now it is up to the government leaders to get out and sell the treaty to
their voters. If they believe this will
build a better Europe, it is time they said so, loud and often."
"In Or Out: Europe's
Ditherers Must Now Decide"
Columnist Wolfgang Munchau commented in the independent Financial
Times (6/21): "This
constitution is written for countries that regard themselves as being at the
heart of the EU. Governments whose
commitment to further integration is in doubt or which pretend the EU is
fundamentally about economic benefits and free trade may find it hard to get
the constitution ratified. The
constitutional referendums are Europe's way of asking: are you with us or are you against us? For the process of European integration, it
is a moment of truth."
"There Can Be No Delay In Confronting Ingrained Myths About
The center-left Independent had this to say (6/21): "The prime minister and the Government
now have a duty to make the case, unambiguously, for Britain to engage fully in
the European project.... Mr. Blair is
right when he says the forthcoming battle over the EU constitution will be
'reality against myth'. But he must be
under no illusions about how ingrained and powerful certain myths can be; nor
about the level of commitment and effort it is going to require to erase them. The clock is ticking."
"Words And Meaning"
The conservative Times editorialized (6/21): "The Commons and the Lords should not
treat the ratification process lightly.
The referendum may be far off but there is much work to do before then
to help voters to question ministerial mythology."
"Blair Has To Take On The Euro Haters"
The center-left tabloid Daily Mirror opined (6/21): "The Tories have been hysterical in
their denunciation of the deal [Blair] struck in Brussels.... Tony Blair has a dangerous, unscrupulous foe
in his battle to get over the European message.
But he must win for the sake of Britain."
"Truth, Lies And An Honest Debate"
The conservative tabloid Daily Mail argued (6/21): "The debate on the constitution presents
the Tories with a huge challenge. They
must expose that 'choice' as a lie and convince the people of the case for a
reformed Europe of sovereign states....
Mr. Blair says he wants a full and honest debate. This would indeed be welcome. But don't bet on it happening under this
"This Is What It Means"
The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (Internet
version, 6/20): "[Blair's] version
of events is impossible to reconcile with what has actually been signed. It is all very well blocking one or two
undesirable proposals; but how many of the things he has accepted can Mr. Blair
positively have wanted? The prime
minister keeps calling for an informed debate, but the last thing he wants is
for people actually to read the constitution; that is why he likes to fall back
on windy generalities about 'making Europe work.' There is a huge opportunity for the Tories
here. If they can emerge as the
undisputed leaders of the 'No' campaign, they will identify with a popular
majority on a crucial issue."
"Constitution Without Citizens?"
Nicole Gnesotto, director of the EU Security
Studies Institute, commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (Internet
version, 6/22): "Anyone who has even
briefly perused the clauses and provisions over which ministers and heads of
state have argued heatedly for the past two years is entitled to feel
perplexed: there is a threshold of
obscurantism beyond which the most democratic of compromises negotiated among
25 heads of state thus becomes the most improbable of political projects
submitted to the vote of Europe's 450 million citizens.... The vast majority of European citizens do not
identify with the institutional convolutions that their leaders now call the
European blueprint. From this viewpoint,
the new treaty is virtually unintelligible, and even the most belated
ratification process becomes a high-risk venture. To change everything or to freeze
everything: this is therefore the
message from voters, but these are precisely the two decisions that the
European leaders cannot make. But
neither can they accept such a democratic rift, between the EU and its
citizens, at a time when other equally important decisions--on further
enlargements, on Turkey, on the budget--are on the agenda. Short of changing voters, it will therefore
be necessary to change European practice--to offer results, to explain, to
persuade, to demonstrate, by means of specific achievements, the correctness
and desirability of the European blueprint, to build legitimacy through action
rather than institutional proceedings."
"Impasse In The Commission"
Right-of-center Le Figaro editorialized
(Internet version, 6/21): "The
inability of the 25 to designate the next president of the Commission says a
great deal about the blockages hampering their action. That is unfortunate, because one could have
hoped that agreement on the Constitution would at least give a new stimulus to
the European undertaking. At a crucial
moment in the history of our continent, no one stands out to lead the European
executive. By itself, this observation
is appalling.... If a man like the
Luxembourg prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, approved almost universally,
prefers to withdraw from the running, it is undoubtedly because the position is
not as enviable as it appears. Let's
face it: it will take a good deal of courage for the one who is ultimately
chosen. With enlargement, there is a
threat of cacophony.... Romano Prodi's
successor will have the difficult job of managing the provisions of the Treaty
of Nice, while waiting for the Constitution to take effect. Provided it can someday be ratified. By common accord, France and Germany had
indeed designated Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, a liberal capable of
seducing the Anglo-Saxons. But apparently, precisely because he was Paris and
Berlin's man, he could not be London's....
The result: the old rift between
the claimed Atlanticist 'new Europe' and the 'old Europe' opposed to the war in
Iraq reemerged at a time when everyone hoped it had been overcome.... It is time for the European leaders to stop
indefinitely replaying the jousts of last year and focus on our future. It is an entirely logical demand that the
next president of the Commission come from a country participating in all the
European policies. One can also imagine
that he would be approved by the PPE, the Group of the European People's Party,
the main group in the Strasbourg Parliament, since he will have to receive the
endorsement of the MEPs. With these two
very simple criteria, it should be possible to quickly find someone who will
lead the European executive in the difficult period ahead."
"Constitution And Disunity"
Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized
(Internet version, 6/20): "The
adoption of the European constitution by the 25 EU heads of state and
government leaders is good news for Europe.
Those who welcome this 'historical' event are not wrong in stressing
that the rules the Union has just acquired are of a nature to strengthen, as
Jacques Chirac said, its coherence and its weight in the world. Europe had to acquire the means to function
with 25 members, and soon 27 and more.
Failure to adapt its management structures and decision-making
procedures would have condemned it to paralysis. The fact that it has managed to do this, even
if somewhat painfully, should thus be welcomed.
However, this positive result will not cause us to forget that the 25
failed in their attempt to appoint a new European Commission president to
replace Romano Prodi.... Not only does
this setback tarnish the success of the approval of the constitutional treaty,
it also confirms the profound divisions that the debate on the constitution has
already largely revealed.... The reforms
introduced by the treaty--the stable presidency of the European Council, the
foreign affairs minister, a reduced Commission by 2014, a new weighting of
votes on the Council of Ministers, extension of qualified majority voting--are
far from insignificant. They could
contribute to improved Union efficiency, as is their goal. But without a strong desire to overcome
differences between states to serve the common interest, the constitution,
whatever its virtues, will not be enough.
The fruitless search for a new Commission president shows that this
desire does not exist, or that it is too weak to provide Europe with the
dynamism it needs. The gulf that opened
up at the time of the Gulf War was expressed yet again in the confrontation
between the Franco-German duo, together with Belgium, on the one hand, and
Great Britain and its allies on the other.
This division in Europe is at present the principal reason for its
"Europe At Crossroads"
Wolfgang Muenchau analyzed in business daily Financial Times
Deutschland of Hamburg (6/22):
"The moment of truth has come for Europe. That was high time. The ratification process of the constitution,
which is likely to last up to two years, will separate the wheat from the
chaff… Those who will ratify the treaty will continue to take part in Europe's
important political integration. The
rest will remain in a free trade area, not more or less… In reply of the
skeptics in several countries, a debate about a European avant-garde will be
revived.... The EU we know today were to
face its end, not necessarily as a common market, but as a force of political
"Europe As Ideology"
Roger Koeppel editorialized in right-of-center Die Welt of
Berlin (6/21): "If it is right that
the conciseness of a constitution is mirrored by its conclusiveness, then we
must say that European leaders did not do their job properly. No one doubts the reason behind economic
integration and a deregulated market, but where is the political union
going? Is it merely an enterprise
serving the interests of European politicians?
Or is a healthy structure emerging which will rip off some expensive
European traditions? We can doubt that,
because France, having Germany in tow, is setting a centralist course: Brussels' authorities are strengthened to
break down awkward minorities.... But it
is not yet clear whether the centralist-dirigiste EU tendency will be best for
Europeans. Brussels ideology must still
prove its viability. Europe must become
less bureaucratic and more open to competition.
Do we really need more powerful and less democratic authorities to do
this? A good European ought to be
skeptical about the European Union."
"Towards A Federation"
Andreas Rinke opined in business daily Handelsblatt of
Duesseldorf (6/21): "It is correct
to call the agreement on the European constitutional treaty historic, because
it is an important movement from a union of states to a European federation. The new text shows the path Europe will
finally take in the decades to come....
The movement towards a federation can no longer be ignored. Already the fact that Europe has adopted a
constitution makes this point clear. It
is a visible sign that the EU will become more than a union of individual and
sovereign countries. The EU will use
this text to empower itself, also against other member states.... The new office of the EU foreign minister
also shows where the voyage is going:
foreign policy as a main element of sovereign nation states will become
a domain of the EU.... National rhetoric
must not mislead us here. We can live
with Tony Blair's victory postures, who claims to have 'rescued' Britain's veto
rights in tax and social policy. This
will limit the efficiency of EU policy, but it can be corrected when the
constitution will be revised later. It
is much more important that Tony Blair is the first British PM who has accepted
Europe's transformation to a federation in principle."
"All Or Nothing"
Christian Wernicke wrote in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (6/21): "Fighting over a
candidate for president, EU leaders showed their 450 million citizens again how
urgent it is to change Europe. This was
a fight about Europe's future and the question who will set the tone in the new
and united Europe. Paris and Berlin, who
wanted to nominate Belgian PM Verhofstadt, a federalist and known opponent to
the Iraq war, lost the battle. Their
attempt to press through a candidate regardless of the recent conservative
election results created a 'coalition of unwilling' commanded by a triumphant
Tony Blair. The summit ended with two
historic results: a document was born
that is as important as the founding text of the EU. At the same time the German-French axis was
dealt a blow and told that their traditional leadership is no longer worth a
ITALY: "A Europe
Without An Identity"
Gianni Baget Bozzo noted in pro-government, leading center-right
daily Il Giornale (6/22)
"Conditions are lacking for the construction of a rapid deployment
force. The divisions over foreign policy
are making military cooperation impossible.
If the EU had not chosen to break with the U.S. and to face Islamic
terrorism, it would have chosen to be the West, to be a civilization, to have a
common destiny. It chose the opposite
and today the European identity is based on the fact that it has no ideal
principle. The refusal to include its
Christian roots [in the Constitution] is a huge sign: the EU does not want a cultural
identity. In the last century the U.S.
was Europe’s unifying element. It
appears that there is no other such element in the absence of America."
"EU Charter -- Obstacle Course Begins"
Adriana Cerretelli opined in leading business daily Il Sole-24
Ore (6/20): “It wanted to be the
European version of the Philadelphia Convention that gave birth to the U.S.
Constitution. It was not even a poor
imitation. Despite its lofty and
improper name, the European Constitution that was approved in Brussels on
Friday...is not much different from the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice treaties
that preceded it. It was supposed to be
clear, concise, and easily comprehensible to everyone, but once again it’s one
of those texts that only experts can understand. It’s far from the simplicity needed to sell
Europe to its 450 million confused and disaffected citizens.”
"The Lions’ Victory"
Barbara Spinelli judged in centrist, influential daily La
Stampa (6/20): “Europe has not
become a power simply because starting today it has a new Constitution.... The Constitution...will not give this Europe
the instruments that are indispensable to any country or groups of countries
that want to determine their historic destiny.... The improvement of the Constitution will
depend on the way the governments of the Union will take into consideration the
lack of confidence that the European voters expressed towards them. This electorate is considered disillusioned,
apathetic and uninterested in Europe.”
Sergio Romano noted in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della
Sera (6/19): “The debate in Brussels
yesterday had at least one merit: it
forced the Brits to show their cards.
They didn’t obtain everything, but once again they were able to slow
down the process of integration. Our
applause stems from the fear of a new failure.
But this doesn’t stop us from acknowledging that there are at least two
lines of thought in Europe, inspired by different philosophies. Logic has it that they should recognize their
differences and that both could choose their own way.”
RUSSIA: "EU Splits
Up. Adopts Constitution"
Yevgeniy Grigoryev held in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(6/21): "A dispute over Romano
Prodi's successor became a stumbling block, leading to an open confrontation
between France (backed by Germany) and Great Britain (backed by Italy and
Poland). Important as this position is,
the intensity of the disagreement may seem strange, indeed. After all, the difference between the
Franco-German favorite and London's protege would not be great. But under the circumstances, they have become
symbols of sorts.... Making themselves
felt in Brussels were also rivalries and a lack of mutual trust not only among
the leading powers, but also between old and new and between big and small member-states
of the European Union."
Constitution, The Result Of A Compromise"
Olivier Gosset opined in financial L'Echo
(6/22): "Should the text that was
signed last week be considered an important step for European integration, or
should it rather be added to the list of insignificant treaties, like the
Treaty of Nice? The answer is probably
in between both, especially since two essential elements are now lacking for
European integration to make considerable progress, i.e., a strong determination
to promote common interests and leadership at the European Council. At this stage, the Constitution can neither
be considered a founding act of Europe's political unity nor the completion of
the Europe-power project that is so dear to France and Belgium."
"Between Symbol And Substance"
Sabine Verhest wrote in independent La Libre
Belgique (6/21): "Even Valery
Giscard d'Estaing did not dare to criticize the text that was approved Friday
night, saying that 'it is the Constitution that Europe needed.' Really?
Not at all.... A few days after a
bitter electoral defeat for about twenty of them, European leaders could not
afford to fail and to openly display their disagreements. They therefore
contented themselves with a text that all could agree with. The result is a text that is not
revolutionary and which transforms complex systems into complicated mechanisms,
but which does not deserve the name that was given to it, i.e.,
"The British, Those Awkward Customers"
Magali Uytterhaeghe noted in financial L'Echo
(6/19): "At the EU Summit in
Brussels late last week, the British once again showed that, for them, the EU
was a friendly continental club, but that it was out of the question for them
to make the least concession that might affect the sovereignty of Great--the
very Great--Britain.... The ambiguous
attitude of Tony Blair, who is keeping one foot in the Atlantic club and
another one in the EU, feeds Euroskepticism in Great Britain, which takes the
entire EU hostage and hampers European integration. 'The British have always been awkward
customers,' French Socialist official Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in a debate
before the elections. But what should
the Belgians say, who have been inflicted another humiliation after the British
for the second time vetoed the appointment of a Belgian at the helm of the EU
Boyko Pangelov wrote in top-circulation,
moderate Trud (6/21): "The
EU adopted the first Constitution in its 50 years of existence.... The document...is lauded as a qualitatively
new step toward legitimizing Europe as a new center of international
politics. Is this really the document
that would make it possible for the Old Continent to develop efficient
mechanisms for adopting decisions in an expedient manner, which would make it a
viable competitor together with such geopolitical players as the United States,
Russia, and China? Or would the European
institutions continue to function as clumsy bureaucracies that are
overpopulated with civil servants and spend taxpayers' money to create even
more red tape? The finale in Brussels
was not the best possible. While they
agreed to numerous compromises, the European leaders could not elect a
successor to Romano Prodi, the chairman of the European Commission. To put this in a different language, Europe
was unsuccessful in its attempt to elect a prime minister. This was a bad start, indeed. The Constitution itself contains traps to the
expedient and effective process of making decisions on strategic issues. The EU plans to have a common diplomatic
office and a foreign minister. His
powers, however, have been blocked by the member-states' right to veto foreign
policy decisions. What else could this
common European minister be except a figurehead? Consensus would be required also in making
decisions in the sector of defense, the harmonization of the tax policy, and on
important social issues. Germans,
Greeks, and Swedes would hardly ever reach common ground on these issues,
however. Perhaps the United States was
undisturbed by the adoption of the Constitution precisely because of these
in-built numerous Achilles heels."
"EU Constitution? Uncertainty Persists"
Martin Ehl had this to say in leading business
daily Hospodarske noviny (Internet version, 6/21): "Uncertainty continues to hover over the
constitution.... In some member
countries, the constitution will be submitted for approval in referendums. What the politicians agree on need not be to
the liking of citizens who, in the elections to the European Parliament, by
their non-participation and support for Euroskepticism, made abundantly clear
what they think about the importance of European integration. Although the constitution is a step toward
unity, it rightly provokes doubts. The
EU will have a foreign minister and a 'president,' but foreign and military
affairs will continue to be subject to the veto of the nation states. Taxes will be collected by the states, not by
Brussels. Why then have a joint
constitution, when a couple of symbols change on the outside and
decision-making remains complex mathematics?
When the American founding fathers were compiling the
constitution...they had a clear idea about the kind of danger threatening from
the outside and what kind of rights every citizen should have. The basis of the text...was the change in
the colonies' relationship with the surrounding world and the establishment of
a joint army. Internal affairs were
resolved over decades. The Union has
adopted the exact opposite approach. The
aspect of foreign and defense policy in the new European Constitution is far
weaker than the balancing mechanisms for the various internal disputes, which
renders the basic document far too complicated for the ordinary citizen. If the detachment that European voters made
clear to the Union in the recent elections is added to this, the outcome could
be that, despite the success of the summit, the constitution will end up in
university libraries as an interesting attempt at the impossible."
"Where Does The EU Boat Go?"
Gabor Stier opined in right-wing Magyar Nemzet
(6/21): "In the majority of member
countries there seems to be disillusionment in European institutions. Brussels is criticized for increasing
bureaucracy and rampant corruption....
What best indicates the continent's integration difficulties is that we
can actually not talk about a European constitution. Even if the new constitution is the legal
source of principles, values, aims, and institutional and operational methods
just as real constitutions are. But the
document approved this weekend is named a constitution only to make it easier
to understand. Because the EU is not a
state. Consequently, the document does
not specify European citizens and peoples as its subject, but much rather it
mentions nations and states.... True,
the new system will improve the efficiency of EU decision-making, which many
feared was nearing a bottleneck, by at least six fold in a mathematical
sense. But the new mechanism also
justifies the critics who say that this is one of the most complicated
administrative systems in preparation, and therefore it can never be
efficient.... So the believers in a
strong united EU have no reason to celebrate with champagne even after this
weekend. What happened was nothing more
than a demonstration by EU leaders that after the 'storms' of the European
parliamentary election, they will do everything in their power to drive the
boat of the continent to calmer waters....
It is undeniable that an agreement has been struck, but it is based on the
smallest common denominator.... Self-centered
thinking and nationalism have remained stronger among the important questions
defining Europe's future than the spirit of Europeanism."
Chief editor Janos Avar judged in Hungarian weekend paper Vasarnapi
Hirek (6/20) "The 'parents' of
course call the birth of the EU Constitution, after a complicated political
carriage, a historic success. It will
be, by all means, history (or time) that tells the Constitution's true
value. In any case, the European Union
will hardly become a federation similar to the United States, since each of its
members guards its own interests heavily and each member is very careful when
it comes to giving up on their own sovereignty.
And there is nothing wrong if there won’t be a European United States of
the EU. The Continentally Cooperating
Countries have taken a significant step toward handling their common issues
Betrayal, Nor Concession"
Pawel Wronski wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (6/21): “The EU constitutional treaty is neither a
betrayal nor a shameful concession.
While it serves as a whip for the opposition to thrash the government
before the elections, it is likely to serve Poland and Europe well in the
future--on the condition, though, that Poles and other European nations will
accept it in a referendum, which will happen if Europe and Poland show they
have enough will to cooperate for the common good. If there is no such will, no constitution
Provisional, Flawed, And Imperfect"
Bogumil Luft opined in centrist Rzeczpospolita (6/21): “Poland’s proposal to include a reference to
Christian roots in the preamble was rejected altogether.... This painful negotiating incident seems to
show what the European Union really is.
It is neither one big family nor our common motherland. It is a structure of rather friendly
cooperation based on a few shared values, and on common interests as far as they
are really common. Regretfully, it will
remain only this. But perhaps it will make Europeans aware that they themselves
have to care for the foundations of society’s moral order, without support from
Foreign policy analyst Mihai Ionescu opined in independent daily Romania
Libera (6/21): “The European leaders
have succeeded, at the last moment, to come to an agreement on the first
European Constitution, but the hard work is only beginning. The Brussels agreement, unanimously
considered to be an historical one, will have no value if European public
opinion, from each country in the 25 member EU, does not ratify the
Jacqueline Prager commented in independent Evenimentul Zilei
(6/21): “The EU leaders put an end, on
Friday night in Brussels, to two years of debates and to two days of inflamed
negotiations, through an historical agreement regarding the first European
Constitution, that must be ratified by the 25 members of the Union. The Brussels summit was close to a failure
because of misunderstandings regarding some crucial aspects, such as the way to
adopt community regulations, and the percentage each country would have in the
decision-making process, but also because of the fight among the great European
political families, who wanted to name a new president of the European
Commission, to replace Romano Prodi.”
Looking For A Jefferson"
Left-of-center Delo remarked (6/21): "It is difficult to understand European
troubles with the constitution when the Old Continent boasts the biggest
intellectual potential. And still, all
philosophers, political scientists and anthropologists cannot muster a few
modest thoughts.... Like Thomas Jefferson,
the third president of the U.S., who wrote the American Constitution in one
SAUDI ARABIA: "Europe
Is Number One"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (6/22): "If there were a lesson to be learned
from the European Union, then the lesson would be that this unity has been one
of the people, not governments. The
decision came from citizens, and not from an inspired leader of the
moment. The tool of this unity was the
free will of the people that was expressed through ballot boxes. Perhaps we are not yet ready to copy this
European example, but this should still remain a message to all those who are interested
in a unified Arab world. One day the
whole world could be united if people agreed upon values that protect human
dignity and freedom of choice."
The expatriate-oriented, English-language Khaleej Times
commented (Internet version, 6/20):
"At last, European leaders have agreed on a landmark constitution
for the European Union. However,
Europe's loud, collective sigh of relief over adopting the constitution does
not signal an end of the elite club's all troubles. The fact that it took two long years of negotiations
and brainstorming to deliver the constitution illuminates the challenges
confronting the European community in years to come.... European leaders know full well that the
battle ahead is going to be tougher. The
constitution has to be approved by referendums in a number of key states,
including Blair's Britain. The stunning
anti-EU verdict by voters in recent European Union elections in major
member-states like Britain is an ominous sign.
Leaders like Blair, having committed themselves to holding referendum on
EU constitution, have all their exit routes closed. What happens if the British voters and other
Europeans reject the constitution? If
the EU polls are any indication, the constitution is most likely to be
dismissed with a 'nay' vote. The
Brussels summit only deepened the fissures across the continent. The failure to find a successor to European
Commission chief Romano Prodi underscores the high tensions running
underneath.... If the constitution was
adopted at the end of the day, credit should go to the Irish who managed to
negotiate the deal through a maze of 'red lines'. The 333-page final document is designed to
streamline policy-making and avoid gridlock in an enlarged EU. It gives the union a full-time president and
a foreign minister, and allows for more majority voting and more extensive
powers for the European parliament.
Where does Europe go from here?
Well, it will not exactly be a super-federalist state oppressively
dominating member states as feared by the Euroskeptics. But the constitution will pave the way for a
more united and powerful Europe allowing it to play a greater role
globally. The strengthened Europe, we
hope, would be able to counteract as a balancing power against brute and
illogical force from across the Atlantic."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
Constitution -- Dawn Of New State"
Liberal Mainichi stated (6/22): "The ratification of a draft European
Constitution may be prolonged because of strong opposition to the proposed law
in each member state. But closer
attention should be paid to a new state structure and innovative political,
economic and social systems as prescribed in the draft constitution. How should the world react to the eventual
selection of the president of the European Union? Asian countries, including Japan, should
carefully study the great European experiment creating a new state."
"Unity The Key To Strengthening EU's Presence In
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun remarked (6/21): "EU leaders adopted on Friday their
first constitution, which is expected to further strengthen their unity and
influence. We welcome their wisdom and
effort to overcome differences on political and economic issues. The constitution demonstrates the community's
strong will to play a greater role on par with its economic power to bring
about peace and stability in the world.
Through the unity of its member nations, the EU will be able to exercise
greater influence on international politics.
We hope that the union will exercise such influence to check the Bush
administration's unilateral foreign policy."
"The EU Constitution"
The liberal Asahi stated (Internet version, 6/21): "Multilateral democracy is edging closer
to life. The concept of sharing a
constitution with other countries, an initiative unthinkable in Japan, is
taking shape in Europe. A proposal for
just such a charter was approved by a meeting of European Union leaders last
week. When it comes to the EU, the
lion's share of attention tends to focus on the expansion of the region as an
economic bloc. We cannot overlook,
however, the momentous fact that the union is also striving to deepen its
political integration. On that front, the
agreement for a constitution is a historic milestone indeed.... The people's lives in the EU are growing
steadily more interlocked in various fields due to its introduction of the euro
as its common currency. Yet despite this
progress, the sentiment of many Europeans is that the EU has failed to
adequately incorporate the will of the people.
This drawback has been labeled the 'democracy deficit'' and was also a
factor behind the large number of abstentions in the recent European Parliament
election. Thus, the move to create a
constitution also stems from the desire to resolve this problem, and heighten
the credibility of the EU itself.... The
road to enacting such a constitution will be anything but smooth. I n Britain
and other countries hesitant about uniting with the European continent, the
ratification issue will be determined by national referendums. We would caution, however, that drawing
short-term judgments on the results of this undertaking would generate
misunderstandings of European unification.
The fact that the individual countries have shared the common goal of steadily
pushing toward integration, regardless of how many years may be required, has
clearly helped strengthen European progress and drive."
SOUTH KOREA: "An
Historic Event In The EU"
The independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (6/21): “Leaders of the 25 European Union member
countries signed the draft of a joint constitution on June 18 in
Brussels...setting the stage for Europe to enter the stage of substantial
political integration following the expansion of a single economic zone. In particular, this move is very significant
in that it was achieved despite the greater diversity of voices that can now be
heard within the EU with new members joining in May 1.... Furthermore, with a common constitution, the
EU members that had been divided over the war in Iraq will be able to provide a
common security policy and maintain a balancing position in a U.S.-led world
order. The constitution that the EU
leaders have agreed on will need to be ratified by each member state, and this
process is expected to run into quite a few difficulties.... However, the historical significance of the
ideal of the European region sharing a common policy and strategy through
democratic procedures becoming a reality should not be underestimated. This epoch-making decision from the EU has
great implications for the East Asian region, which, tied down by division and
confrontation, has not been able to proceed far in regional integration.”
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
The centrist Hindu editorialized (6/21): "After several setbacks, the European
Union now has an achievement that it can be proud of: an agreement among the 25, often fractious,
member-states on a Constitution. As much
as it clearly demarcates the lines of policy-making between the EU and the
governments of its constituents, the 333-page document is a massive stride
towards the vision of European integration.
The achievement is all the more laudable considering that the two-day
summit was held in the shadow of the European Parliament election, the first
after the EU enlargement in May. In a
sense, the leaders had no choice. The
alternative was to place the credibility of the European Union and, in fact, the
very vision behind it on the line. The
leaders, especially those spearheading the efforts at integration, must have
been acutely conscious that a failure to agree on the Constitution this time
would only add to the Union's existential woes.
Of course, this does not mean the end of all battles within the European
Union. The public name-calling between
France and Britain over who should become the next European Commission
president, which resulted in the summit postponing the decision, shows that the
friction between EU constituents will continue as long as there are contentious
and rivaling national interests. But by
finalizing the Constitution, the member-states have demonstrated that the
rumors about the death of a unified Europe are
European Wedding Cake"
Claudio Uriarte wrote in left-of-center Pagina 12
(6/20): "At first sight, the
European Constitution, which was launched last week, looks like a giant, white
and splendid wedding cake.... But you'd
better not touch it.... Last week, there
was a testimony of its fragility....
First, there were the European Parliament elections, in which Tony Blair
and Silvio Berlusconi were obviously punished due to their participation in the
war in Iraq, but Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac were also punished, and
they did not participate in the war in Iraq.
Actually, all governing political parties were punished, but the most
punished thing was the idea of a united Europe--abstention rate again hit
records, and the new members of the European Parliament belong to parties that
abhor the idea of a united Europe in the first place.... Europe is a non-entity: it will exist as a series of more or less
sound economic agreements, but there is no such a thing as a European
identity. There is a European Central
Bank, a European Parliament, a European Court of Justice, but there are no
structures of a European nation: there
is no European Executive branch or European Armed Forces. This was strongly reflected in the G-8
summit.... The U.S. goal of the meeting
was to obtain support for a multinational occupation force in Iraq, but since
Europe is not an entity, every one maintained its respective national
interests.... And in terms of common
defense policy, the EU is an engine that never pulls out because it continues
living under the U.S. umbrella of the Cold War."