July 29, 2003

A federal constitution with the heart of a manifesto

Noel Malcolm on the EU constitution:

The central problem is the sheer fact of its being a constitution. For, in the political realm, only states have constitutions - and the definition of a sovereign state is that its own constitution is not subject to the authority of any higher constitution. In the words of the best academic study of the concept of sovereignty, Alan James's Sovereign Statehood, "the distinguishing characteristic of a sovereign state is that it possesses a set of legal arrangements relating to fundamental matters - its constitution - which exists in its own right".

Endowed with this new constitution, the European Union will match that description. It will also have its own "legal personality", with the ability to sign international treaties in its own right; it will have its own president, foreign minister and foreign policy, as well as its parliament, supreme court, flag, anthem and currency. It will fit the criteria of a sovereign state. The member states, whose constitutions will be subject to the authority of a higher constitution, will not.