29 October 2004

Confederate States of Europe

Although Europe's version of the Articles of Confederation appears to be about 300 pages long—primarily because, without a common-law tradition of final judicial review in most of Europe, "positive law" must be more detailed; or, perhaps, Terry Gilliam was right—it isn't, as they call it and we understand the term, a "constitution." That is nonetheless a substantial improvement in brevity; as the Guardian notes,

The new "rulebook" for the EU replaces over 80,000 pages of legal documentation accumulated through a variety of treaties bonding the original European Economic Community of 1957, and was prompted by the accession this year of 10 new member states, mostly from the former Soviet block.

However, it's pretty clear that the Europeans don't think they can learn a damned thing from our constitutional history.

The constitution foresees simpler voting rules to end decision gridlock in a club that ballooned to 25 members this year and plans to absorb half a dozen more in the years ahead. It includes new powers for the European Parliament and ends national vetoes in 45 new policy areas — including judicial and police cooperation, education and economic policy — but not in foreign and defense policy, social security, taxation or cultural matters.

Considering that three of those four areas ultimately sank the Articles of Confederation, with their unrestricted state sovereignty, one might think our experience would be relevant. Of course, that would require that one be more than just a genius in France. Given the French attitude toward even allowing foreign words in their dictionaries, that's not something we should expect.