June 24, 2003

Wish Fulfillment: The EU Constitution lays down NGOs' ideals in stone.

Iain Murray, in a National Review article, argues that the proposed EU constitution looks like a NGO wish list, with its full range of "positive" rights, entrenching special interest groups, limiting member states' powers, promoting centralization and blocking welfare and economic reform:

Discrimination based on birth is prohibited, which puts those countries with monarchies in an interesting position. Equality between men and women is ensured in employment, work, and pay specifically, except that 'the principle of equality shall not prevent the maintenance or adoption of measures providing for specific advantages in favour of the under-represented sex.' Children 'may express their views freely' - so much for the days of silence in movie theaters!

Then comes the 'solidarity' title, which grants labor unions an entrenched constitutional position, giving workers the right to collective bargaining and to take strike action. The welfare state is also entrenched, with welfare benefits guaranteed, including 'social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources.' The charter thereby reverses many of the union and welfare reforms introduced into Britain by Margaret Thatcher - reforms that have been instrumental in lifting that country back into the ranks of strong economies - and forbids Germany and other nations from embracing them at a time when they desperately need to do so.