October 29

The European political class should learn a lesson in democracy from Australia

Under the European Constitution (camouflaged as the Treaty of Lisbon) there will be a President, but beyond certain minimal duties, nobody knows what he or she will do. The media call the position the “President of the European Union”, especially when they are speculating whether Tony Blair will be the first incumbent.

At the present time the presidency of the European Council is held by a member state and rotates every six months.  

Once the Lisbon Treaty is in force, an individual will be chosen by the European heads of government sitting in the European Council. He or she will actually be called the “President of the European Council” to hold office for a two-and-a-half years.  

Apart from chairing the Council and ensuring EU representation internationally, the extraordinary thing is the role and function of the President is undecided. Worse, it will be decided by the politicians – behind closed doors.

The people have not been told or even consulted. Indeed in all states the politicians have avoided a referendum – the Irish high court forced this on their politicians. And there was no referendum in the UK although the government had promised one.

At present the head of government of the country which has the presidency goes to G8 summits alongside the head of the EU executive, the European Commission President.

If the President of the Council becomes powerful, the two Presidents could clash about who runs the EU, and not only when one is conservative and one is socialist.

The British Foreign Secretary says the holder should be important enough to stop the traffic in Washington and Beijing. But according to The Times (published in The Australian 27 October),  Mr. Blair's opponents in the Benelux countries (Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg), do not want “a big name” and believe that the holder should beno more than a chairman of European Council meetings.  Such a mundane role would be beneath Mr. Blair, on dit.

It was the wisdom of our Founding Fathers that the people of the several Australian states should be involved in and approve what would be the first federation of any continent.  And any y change would need their specific approval, both nationally and in a majority of states.

How sad that one century later, the political class in the old Eropean continent are unwilling to apply this lesson from Australia in elementary democracy.  

Is their Brechtian vote of no confidence in the European people?    


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