Wednesday, June 15, 2005

NATO is Europe! Who cares EU constitution?

People talk too much about EU constitution, but it does not matter so much. NATO plays the most important role to decide the future of Europe, and the EU is the secondary actor. In other words, Europe must be open and Atlanticist. Today, European integration has expanded eastward. Also, Turkey is expected to join the EU in the future. However, I have to remind you that European integration is not entirely dependent on the Continental initiative. The United States has been endorsing this movement since the end of World War II. When the Cold War ended, NATO embraced “New Europe” and Turkey much earlier than the EU did. In view of these facts, we understand that European integration is a trans-Atlantic endeavor from the beginning. Expanded Europe is not homogeneous. It is not a good choice to impose a single constitution to the whole area of the Union, and interfere in the national sovereignty. NATO does not intervene in national politics. Furthermore, it is a friend in need to its member states, in case of crisis. Therefore, people do not have to worry so much about the ratification of EU constitution.
It is also important to notice substantial changes in the balance of power in Europe. The French referendum on May 29 voted against the constitution. As Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform, argues in his article in Foreign Affairs, there are two categories of states in Europe: core members like France and Germany, and peripheral members such as Britain, Poland, the Nordic, and the Baltic. In an expanded Europe, the influence of the Franco-German alliance will erode. The “non” vote will undermine French leadership in Europe furthermore. In addition, peripheral members enjoy buoyant economy these days, while core economies are stagnant. In a circumstance like this, initiatives by France, Germany, and Brussels bureaucrats are outdated.
Finally, it is necessary to understand why people voted against the constitution. First, people are scared of losing their national identity. Second, there is a clash between liberal expansionists and social integrationists. Finally, and the most importantly, European citizens distrust the constitution drafted by ENA bound elitists like Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, and Jaques Chirac. Also, people are skeptic to Brussels interference in national security and economy. This is an era of grassroots democracy, and people are getting increasingly antagonistic to bureaucratic rule all over the world.

From these points, EU constitution was destined to be rejected. However, it does not matter. NATO is Europe.