zondag 17 juni 2007

Stop European imperialistic aggression! Full petition text - English version

Next Thursday on the 21st of June, new negotiations between European heads of state and prime ministers will start concerning the future of the European Constitution. It will be then a little more than two years ago that the French and Dutch people rejected the constitutional proposal by referendum.

Though two founding member states expressed a negative opinion, and seven member states even haven’t got the chance to express theirs, the current German presidency of the European Union intends to pass through the European Council a ‘redrafted’ constitutional text. There are even speculations not to name the text a ‘constitution’, but rather a ‘reform treaty’. The fact on its own that this cosmetic operation needs to take place, can be questioned. Anyhow, a certain number of ‘matters of substance’ need to be rescued from the rejected constitution, according to our European leaders. These ‘matters of substance’ nevertheless imply a number of serious dangers concerning the sovereignty of the member states and its citizens. In order to indicate which dangers, we rely on the original text of the European constitution and the discussion memo of EU President Angela Merkel according to which the discussion will be held next week.

On the matter of democratic reform – especially in its traditional meaning as Pericle’s Athens knew it – the current propositions cannot satisfy us. Last week, the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso told British prime minister Tony Blair that he had to “stand up in front of the national public opinion” in order to accept the new treaty. It’s quite obvious that Mr Barosso’s statement is a direct declaration of war against democracy. The friendly looking mask of the European Union is falling off, behind which a horrifying monster shelters.

Although a referendum on citizens’ initiative would be made possible by the original constitution – which is a step in the right direction – it’s first of all remarkable that none of our European leaders speaks about it today. Secondly, the proposal doesn’t go far enough, since such a people’s proposal isn’t binding at all. The European Commission can draft a legal proposal according to the wishes of the European people, but isn’t obliged to do so. It would be better to make the citizens’ proposal binding.

In order not to encroach even more on the sovereignty of the member states, the Dutch government launched a proposal to introduce a ‘red card’ system. This implies that when a majority of national parliaments opposes a legal proposal of the European Commission, this proposal can be rejected. In Ms Merkel’s memo this good initiative is reduced to an ‘orange card’, which implies that a) not a simple, but a ¾-majority is needed and b) the proposal won’t be definitively rejected, but the European Commission will have to redraft a new proposal. It were better to adopt the original Dutch proposal.

A third important point is the intention to give the European Union legal personality. This provision might have far-reaching consequences, because the EU will be then able to discuss and sign international treaties concerning foreign policies, defence and judicial matters (cfr competences of the second and third pillar). There’s even a real chance that the European Union will obtain a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. It should be made clear that matters concerning foreign policy are a strict competence of the member states, in order to lay own accents on the international stage.

And then there’s still the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This charter was written as an annex added to the Treaty of Nice (2000), but hasn’t got binding legal force. It enumerates a number of ‘basic rights’, coming from typical classical freedoms such as the respect for each citizen’s private life, but also far-reaching and even far-fetched socio-economic rights and so-called rights of ‘equality’. Although it is said that making the Charter a legal binding document isn’t anything else than the confirmation of the already existing European Convention on Human Rights (after all, all member states of the EU are also member of the Council of Europe and thus bound by the ECHR) , and even letting alone whether or not the ECHR is a good thing, the EU Charter goes far beyond the existing modalities of the ECHR, as it also focuses on certain ‘social rights’ as the right on social security and social assistance. The risk that the European Union will turn in a socialistic bastion dominated by trade unions and a chubby state would get too high. And so is the risk that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will drown in a pile of judicial cases. Considering the fierce and rightful opposition of both the United Kingdom and The Netherlands, it is said that the Charter will be left out of the new treaty (in the proposal of European constitution this charter would have formed a separate chapter with legal binding force), but at the same time one single reference would be made in order to give the charter, finally, legal binding force. Obviously, this is an obstructing trick in order to create the impression that the charter has been dropped. But it won’t be dropped at all. If there are a few member states who really which to drown in the grease of the ‘social welfare state’, they can do it on their own.

Finally we need to refer to this remarkable passage mentioned in the memo of Ms Angela Merkel: “At the same time, there is concern […] to introduce greater clarity over the delimitation and definition of competences of the Union and the member states.” Considering that the European Union mostly works with ‘shared competences’ – which means that both the EU as the member states can act on these matters – Ms Merkel’s statement possesses a real danger if a return to the principles as indicated in the European constitution would be made. After all, according to article I-12.2 the decision making competence of member states in these ‘shared competences’ would be curtailed when the EU itself would produce new legislation on the matter. Since these ‘shared competences’ include matters as environmental policy, consumer protection, social policy and fisheries, it seems obvious to us that the principle of subsidiarity – which says that a decision should be made on the level as close to the citizen as possible - is endangered.

Our conclusion is clear: the European Union has to stop absorbing more and more competences on a nontransparent way far above the knowledge of its citizens. As a result, we propose that the aim of the European summit next Thursday should be limited to ‘pragmatic’ reforms in order to make the internal kitchen of Europe more efficient (such as an end to the rotating EU-presidency and a decrease of the number of EU Commissioners). But there is no way of giving the EU more power (for example by making the charter of fundamental rights legally binding or giving the EU legal personality). The European Union also urgently needs to implement the binding referendum on popular initiative in its way of functioning. And finally a reflection whether or not some competences nowadays belonging to the so-called ‘acquis communautaire’ should be going back to a lower echelon such as the member state or – why not? – the sovereignty of each individual itself, could be salutary.

If you share the opinion that a further reinforcement of European Leviathan should be strongly countered, please feel free to undersign this petition. We thank you in the name of liberty.

To end this text, one single practical remark: please send this petition to following three not that unimportant persons per 5,000 collected signatures: 1) José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission: sg-web-president@ec.europa.eu, 2) Angela Merkel, current president of the European Council: internetpost@bundeskanzlerin.de and 3) Hans-Gert Pöttering, president of the European Parliament: hans-gert.poettering@europarl.europa.eu. Many thanks in advance.

Click here to sign the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/stopeuro/

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