Sunday, October 05, 2008

EU Envy

There are few things I hate more than being told how great the European Union is. Doug Saunders is at it in the Saturday Globe. Saunders is using the prism of the EU-Canada trade talks to discuss the issues in dealing with Canada because of our loose federalism. Saunders marvels at the ease that Europe, a collection of 27 independent states, has in negotiating treaties. He ignores the reason for this freedom: lack of democracy. The European Union remains a fundamentally undemocratic institution. Controlled in large measure by an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels (led by President Barroso) and the heads of government of the 27 member states (currently led by President Sarkozy), the European Commission and European Council, as they are known, wield an enormous amount of power. There is also a political consensus among the major parties of the majority of EU states that European integration is both positive and essential. The irony is that fewer and fewer Europeans actually want the integration their political masters are pushing. The first round of European constitution meetings collapsed because, well, people were allowed to vote on it. The second round collapsed, in spite of efforts to prevent people from voting on it, because the Irish government couldn't get around their constitution and had to let the people vote on it. If Presidents Barroso and Sarkozy had to sell this to the electorate of certain member states, it would undoubtedly fail. It is only because the EU is so insulated from its people that it can negotiate with such impugnity. While the EU is probably a benevolent dictator most of the time, it is a dictator nonetheless. The toothless European Parliament has not changed this fact. If Mr. Saunders et al. want Canada to be more like the EU, they should realize that the cost is democracy.

Side Note: I actually really hope these talks succeed. While I don't want to be like the EU, I would like to have a more active trading relationship with our friends across the pond. In a related story the free trade conspiracy theorists had a major hole blasted through their water fear-mongering today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vote YES to Free Europe (not No) at - open also for non-Europeans...

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