Friday, June 13, 2008

EU Looking Green

Ireland has rejected the Treaty of Lisbon. The EU needs a more simple way of organizing itself. The EU also wants to matter outside of Europe. Unfortunately, this streamlining requires unanimous consent and Ireland's approval must be done through a constitutional amendment which requires a referendum. Thus, tiny Ireland has ground one of the greatest success stories of the last sixty years to a halt. 862, 415 people have denied progress to 490 million. One of the stumbling blocks this time was the perceived threat to Ireland's traditionally neutralist foreign policy. Expect the EU to try, try again. The problems here are pretty simple. The gulf between the EU and its people is widening. Brussels and the political elite across Europe are increasingly out of touch with their populous. The politicians of almost all political parties favour integration in the face of globalization and other economic challenges. The people are a little less enthusiastic. Witness the pathetic turnout across Europe in European Parliamentary elections or the abysmal failure of the last round of EU reforms or the protests over Brussels-imposed value added taxes on fuel. The second problem the EU recognizes: getting 27 different electorates or parliaments to agree to anything is virtually impossible. However, in order to eliminate the consensus-based decision making processes they need consensus. It's akin to the Canadian senate approving a constitutional amendment to eliminate the senate. Thus, the superpower-in-waiting that is the European Union continues to stumble and fail. However, Europeans probably won't notice until Euro 2008 is over.

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