Last EU Summit has witnessed a couple of concession given to Ireland for swetening the Lizbon deal for worried people of the country. Thanks to the efforts of France’s hyperactive President Nicholas Sarkozy, long-disputed constitutional endeavours of EU have been revived. Nonetheless not all risks have been averted.
The European Union has been put a lot of effort on constitutional drafts, ideas and summits. Since the Treaty of Nice, the constitution has always been at the top of Europe’s agenda. The Constitutional Agreement forged by the Convention consist of a bunch of “wise men” were rejected by referanda held in France and Netherlands in 2005. In response, eurocrats have built up a new text dubbed the Reform Agreement signed in Lizbon Summit in 2007. However some things are still missing.
The answer to question why the new agreement do not satisfy people lies in the foundations of attitudes and perceptions towards the Community among people in Europe. First of all, it is broadly deemed as an undemocratic and alien organization whose bodies are not elected –at least most of them- by people in the continent. These are entities not appointed but decides for them. Secondly, the legitimacy of the Organization is rather vague. It has already materialized its economic integration objectives in a wide sense by establishing a common functioning market and a money area which are broadly appreciated, yet it tries to further integration towards political fields without concrete and justifiable hinge. No common values –even though, they have been asserted to be existed- and no background to unite people in terms of their “common identity”. The concept of European Citizenship is merely on the ideals of european bureaucrats, it has failed to win people’s hearts and minds.
Rejection of the Constitutional and Reform Agreements has, on the other hand, other reasons. Organization’s failure to safeguard its people would be considered one. Since the threshold of the new millenium, the Union has been wobbling due to economic slowdown. Euro area could not realise inclusion of all members, unemployment rates are worrying and recent crisis points out that EU markets still heavily depend on U.S economy. Furthermore, economic woes have certainly brought social unrest. Particularly regarding the last enlargement, xenophobia and antagonism are on the rise in the continent due to liberalised movement of workers – especially from central and eastern european states- throughout Europe.
Second reason is the blurry status and complex structure of EU’s deepening process. An ordinary citizen is having hard time to comprehend the meaning of a European Constitution- let alone understand why they need one- and where it stands with national constitutions. Even if they understand, they contest to transfer more power to an organization that they barely involve in its decision-making processes. The more EU demands sovereignty, the more objections it faces because of the shortcomings of democratic structure and damage to core national jurisdictions.
Future is not crystal clear whether federalists or intergovernmentalists would win the debate. Ireland has given some concessions but so did the France and Netherlands. Efforts do not bear fruit because worries of European people are yet to be addressed. It is people who should be taken into account, not some blindfolded politicans. Furthermore, the Community needs to seek effective ways to re-identify itself to excess the limits of sole economic integration. Habermas claims that “this requires the simplicity of a founding document and common values that would embrace people all together”. A viable Europe citizen could only buoy within such an intellectual background.
Agreed or not, the EU has to find out solutions on which way to go, either federalism or intergovernmentalism. A divided Europe would have much more burdens and fears than a united one. And European leaders witnessed two world wars should know better.