International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

June 23, 2004

June 23, 2004





**  Agreement on a new constitution for the EU is a "positive" development.

**  EU needs "urgent change" to overcome "profound divisions" and a "detached" electorate.

**  Skeptics call the constitution "virtually unintelligible" and a threat to national sovereignty.

**  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 social systems."    


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.




BRITAIN:  "Business 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 in Europe."


"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 moment."


"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 Europe"


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 Government."


"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."


FRANCE:  "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 weakness."


GERMANY:  "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 European integration."


"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 lot."


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 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.”


"Uncovered Cards"


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."


BELGIUM:  "The 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., Constitution."


"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 Commission?"


BULGARIA:  "Undermined Unity"


Boyko Pangelov wrote in top-circulation, moderate Trud (6/21):  "The EU adopted the first Constitution in its 50 years of existence....  The 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." 


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "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."


HUNGARY:  "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."


"Constitution Found"


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 together."


POLAND:  "Neither 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 will help.”


"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 supranational structures.”


ROMANIA:  "Constitution"


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 Constitutional Treaty.”


"Historical Agreement"


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.”


SLOVENIA:  "We're 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 day."




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." 


UAE:  "Celebration Time?"


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."




JAPAN:  "European 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 International Community"


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.”




INDIA:  "Bravo Europe"


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  'greatly exaggerated.'"




ARGENTINA:  "The 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."


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