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Constituting EU

By David Warren

One of the pleasures of paradise, Hilaire Belloc wrote somewhere, will be hurling rocks at the damned. It is a thought that comes to mind whenever I contemplate what is colloquially called (over there) "the black heart of Europe" -- i.e. the European Union bureaucracy, that has tied the continent together in a great stagnant mass, and presides over its accelerating slide into the trash heap of history.

This week the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has tried to complete her term at the revolving EU presidency with a spectacular achievement. It would be to take the proposed constitutional charter that was rejected by the voters of the Netherlands and France -- and would have been rejected everywhere else had it been put to plebiscite -- and get it made into law by another name after a few cosmetic alterations.

The new draft treaty, like the old, would include longer terms for president and members of the EU Council, and lay the foundations for a centralized European foreign office. It would assign new voting weights in legislative elections, and alter other voting formulae to enhance the power of France and Germany, and extend the EU's ability to interfere in the smaller states' domestic and judicial arrangements. The most frightening proposal is the one least appreciated: to create a European "charter of fundamental rights" that will accomplish the precise opposite of what it claims. It will swing the iron claw of "progressive thought" through the soft flesh of human variety, enterprise, and freedom, on an unprecedented scale.

It is time people realized that "human rights codes" are a weapon employed by the state to suppress disapproved behaviour by the individual. They cannot be wielded by the individual against the state, as independent civil and criminal courts could be. They are star chambers used, and designed to be used, to mount show trials, in which persons who fail to snap to attention when commissar issues the latest political corrections may be publicly demonized. By removing all of their victims' established legal protections -- presumption of innocence, the right to know one's accuser, to be tried by a jury of one's peers, et cetera -- they put a jackboot directly in the teeth of the tradition of human liberty descending from Magna Charta. The tribunals are created, always, by bureaucratic fiat.

Democracy is not quite dead in Europe, but getting that way. The cumbersome, incompetent, ridiculously corrupt, incredibly arrogant, and unelected Euro-bureaucracy is already in a position to dictate trans-European policies that by-pass all national legislatures. There is nothing to stop, or even slow, the metastasis of micro-managing regulations that interfere with the daily lives and customs of half-a-billion souls.

While the European Parliament is nominally elected, it exists for show, and is effectively powerless against that bureaucracy, voting on only a tiny proportion of that bureaucracy's diktats, and having no power whatever to initiate legislation.

An organization that began after the Second World War as a free-trade agreement has morphed into the world's biggest nanny state. It has tremendous power, and no responsibilities: the prerogative of the harlot on a scale that is impossible for the citizen to imagine.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the Polish prime minister, tossed a spanner quixotically into the works this week, by complaining about the proposed new voting arrangements, that would extend Germany's influence at the expense of Poland's. He noted that Poland would have a much bigger population, had it not been for the millions of Poles exterminated by Germans in the Second World War. "If Poland had not had to live through the years of 1939-45, Poland would be today looking at the demographics of a country of 66 million."

I like this man. He creates trouble for people I dislike. He is among the few European politicians willing to mention the two things you never mention in the company of European politicians: the War, and Europe's Christian heritage. Neither ever happened in the official view of the "new Europe," and mentioning them is in the poorest possible taste.

More effective opposition has come from Britain's outgoing prime minister, Tony Blair, who is appalled by the further loss of British sovereignty the measures will entail. This is the very reason Dutch and French voters nixed the earlier, "official" constitution. For Europe's democratic national governments are the last line of defence for the citizen, against being fed into the Euro-maw. Britain still has the power of veto, and using it decisively to wreck Mrs Merkel's plans may be Mr Blair's parting (if not only) contribution to the legacy of British freedom.

© Ottawa Citizen

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