Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 30 December 2004

On getting to understand the EU Constitutional Treaty

"The European Constitution in Perspective", put out by the British Management Data Foundation

I just received my copy of this weighty tome this morning; so far I have read only the foreward and the section entitled 'Background to the Constitution' and scanned the remaining chapters. Although I have read the actual constitutional treaty (or pretty large parts of it, at any rate) on the EU website, this publication consolidates the whole thing in one simple to handle document and, most valuably, provides something the basic texts do not - a very detailed and useful index. For example, one can very readily locate this text from 'The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Union', which forms Part II of the Constitutional Treaty, under the Index heading 'Discrimination - Fundamental Right':

Article II-81 Non-discrimination

1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.

2. Within the scope of application of the Constitution and without prejudice to any of its specific provisions, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.

- In all there are seven articles under the section entitled 'Equality'. So far as I am concerned it was the apparent attempt by Signor Buttiglione to remove 'sexual orientation' as one of the discriminatory practices to be prohibited which rendered him unsuitable to be EU Justice Commissioner. If it had not been for this, I would have been prepared to accept his assurances that his personal beliefs would not affect the way he proposed to act had be been appointed a Commissioner.

For those who are interested in a fuller understanding of what is in the Constitutional Treaty and, importantly from a UK perspective, using this understanding to help decide how to vote in the referendum we have been promised on whether the UK should ratify the Treaty, I would recommend that you get a hold of a copy of this publication. I obtained mine through Amazon and the link is here; it costs GBP27.50 (about EUR39.00 or USD50.00) and this seems a small price to pay for something so important. If you cannot afford to have your own copy, then you should suggest that your local library (or main library, at least) acquires a copy.

Whether you are basically opposed to the EU, an EU Constitution or further EU integration, or whether you are (like me) basically in favour of these concepts, having a sound basis for one's beliefs seems, to me, vitally important and far more useful than basing one's own opinions on received opinion and 'prejudice'. The EU Constitutional Treaty was signed on 29th October in Rome by all 25 heads of Government of the EU member states, but before it enters into force it must first be ratified by all the members, and in a number of these countries the decision to ratify or not will be guided by the results of referenda; the UK is one of these countries: read more about this process here.

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