Europeans Don’t Want United States of Europe

Michael R. Sesit, Bloomberg, June 20, 2008

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Rather than being a one-time incident, the Irish plebiscite, which defeated the treaty 53.4 percent to 46.6 percent, is the latest evidence that nationalism is alive and kicking in Europe, regardless of repeated attempts by the continent’s elites to turn the European Union into an enhanced political body, designed to play a bigger role in world affairs.

Europe’s citizens favor the free movement of goods, capital and, to a somewhat lesser extent, people throughout the 27- country union. They don’t, though, want to surrender their legal traditions, change their tax structures or alter other parts of their national identity.

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All 27 EU members must ratify the Lisbon Treaty for it to be adopted. Therefore, Ireland’s rejection should kill it.

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The goal of the Lisbon Treaty is to improve the operating efficiency of the EU. It calls for a semi-permanent, unelected presidency to replace the current system in which individual governments head the union on a six-month rotating basis. The treaty also includes an expanded foreign-policy and defense apparatus, and calls for more decisions to be made by weighted- majority vote, instead of the requirement for unanimity that generally prevails.

Europe’s leaders have only themselves to blame for the political logjam. The Lisbon Treaty is a dense 277-page document of legal gobbledygook. No “sane person” would read it, Charlie McCreevy, Ireland’s current EU commissioner, said in late May.

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Even if European leaders succeed in ameliorating Irish sensitivities, the divide between the union’s citizenry and its politicians won’t go away. That’s because the ordinary folk don’t want to surrender their heritage to a central, largely unelected authority comprised of European bureaucrats.

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