The E.U. Constitution, drafted by a committee chaired by former French “conservative” president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, debuted on June 10. With a metaphysical sweep worthy of Hegel, d’Estaing described the 75-page document as “an edifice, a construction, an equilibrium, a balance . . . a synthesis.” Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” the anthem of the European Union, accompanied the official presentation of the draft prepared by a 15-member “Presidency” representing 105 members of the Convention on the Future of Europe.
The insane finale of the Ninth Symphony should make any sensible person wary of any event it adorns (such as Hitler’s birthdays and East German state ceremonies), and the launching of the E.U. constitution was no exception. Both in sentiment and in style, its Preamble could have been composed by a Jacobin fanatic two centuries ago. It defines the fundamental values of “Europe” as humanism, equality of persons, freedom, and respect for reason. It refers to “the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe” and upholds “the central role of the human person and his inviolable and inalienable rights.” It heralds Europe’s continued march along the “path of civilization, progress and prosperity, for the good of all its inhabitants, including the weakest and most deprived” and celebrates “social progress . . . peace, justice and solidarity throughout the world.”
In other words, united Europe’s draft constitution is a radically secularist, progressivist, militantly humanist, anti-Christian, modernist document. Its refusal to make even a passing reference to Christianity is “an offense to reason, to good sense, and to a good part of Europe’s citizens,” said Roberto Cardinal Tucci, the president of Vatican Radio. Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski, an avowed atheist who leads a strongly Catholic country, called the godless tone of the constitution “shameful.”
Such voices have remained isolated and ineffective, however. Most “conservative” parties and politicians all over Europe chose to ignore the Preamble and professed relief that the document is not as centralist in spirit and letter as the antifederalists had feared it might be. The European Union will have a “legal personality” and a president, but the dreaded term federal has been dropped in favor of the more vague Community way. The European Union’s current designation will not be changed to “United Europe,” and Article 1 recognizes that the Union derives its power and authority from the member states. The new post of E.U. “foreign minister” (perhaps under a different designation) will combine the roles currently played by Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) Commissioner Javier Solana and External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, but the position will not have any additional powers. There will be no qualified majority voting over the CFSP: Intergovernmental procedures will continue to rule most, if not all, policy decisions.
In reality, the beleaguered Euroskeptics have little to celebrate. Article 10 establishes the primacy of E.U. law over national law, and Article 15 hints at supranationalism by obliging member states to support “actively and unreservedly . . . the Union’s common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity.” In the economic sphere, “The Union shall have competence to co-ordinate the economic and employment policies of the member states.”
More significantly, a Charter of Fundamental Rights forms the entire second part of the document—and it presents as great a threat to national sovereignty as any overt federalist declaration. It mandates equality and nondiscrimination (and includes references to homosexuals); it combats “social exclusion” and upholds “diversity.” The new constitution and E.U. law are to have “primacy over the law of member states,” formally elevating the Union above national constitutions and parliaments. Member states can only act “to the extent that the Union has not exercised, or has decided to cease exercising, its competence.” The European Court will have the power, under Article 28, to “ensure respect for the Constitution and Union law” and to rule on compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The draft was approved by E.U. leaders at the summit in Salonika, and its details will be discussed by an intergovernmental conference this fall. Formal approval will come sometime after May 1 of next year, when the next round of E.U. enlargement is supposed to take place. While the constitution may be subjected to a popular vote, Brussels will remain inherently bureaucratic rather than democratic, reflecting the aspirations and interests of the postnational, post-Christian ruling elites rather than those of the people.
“Where are our principles?”—the perennial lament among conservatives of old—is no longer heard among Europe’s morphed Tories, Christian Democrats, and Gaullists. The failure of Europe’s nominal conservatives to fight the document will help push the Old Continent further along the path of moral, spiritual, and demographic self-liquidation.