Malta Today

This Week Sport News Personalities Local News Editorial Top News Front Page This Week Sport News Personalities Local News Editorial Top News Front Page This Week Sport News Personalities Local News Editorial Top News Front Page

Letters • November 21 2004

The central question: Where do power and authority lie?

A concerted effort is being made to depict the EU Constitution which shall come into force once it is ratified by ALL member-states by 2006, as if it is just a simplification of all existing EU treaties into one “reader-friendly” treaty, with only “a few changes”. Nothing could be further from the truth!
I have chosen a few parts taken from an analysis of the EU Constitution made by The National Platform Research and Information Centre of Dublin, Ireland. This analysis has been checked for legal accuracy by authorities on European Law:
“This ‘Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe’ is not just another treaty. It repeals ALL the existing EC/EU treaties and then founds quite a new EU, based on its own Constitution. Legally, constitutionally and politically this new EU would be quite different from the existing EU. The new EU, founded on its own State Constitution, in fact becomes a new European State in the world community of States …….. in which the existing Member States are reduced to the constitutional status of regions or provinces ….. This is therefore the most decisive step ever in the near 60 year old project of European integration, aimed at turning the EEC/EC/EU into a fully-fledged State, a superpower in the world.
“In international law a Treaty is a contract or agreement between independent States as equal sovereign partners. A Constitution is the fundamental law of a State setting out its institutions of government, how it makes its laws, determines its policies and actions and relates to other States. This (Constitutional) Treaty will only be a Treaty until the Constitution comes into effect. From then on it is the Constitution we will be bound by and will have to obey.
“Article 1-7 gives this new EU …… legal personality and a distinct corporate existence for the first time. Hitherto the EU has had no legal existence for the first time. Hitherto the EU has had no legal existence apart from its members. At present the Member States, not the EU are superior. This is shown by the fact that the Member States, if they wished, could agree at any time to dissolve the EU and EC ……. The Constitution changes this. Legally and constitutionally it makes the new EU separate from any of its individual Member States, just as the USA is separate from Virginia or California. Or Canada from Ontario.
“Article 1-6 then provides that “The Constitution and Law adopted by the institutions of the union in exercising competencies conferred on it shall have primacy over the law of the member states”. Thus the proposed Constitution of this new EU overrides and is superior to the Member States’ national constitution …. The central issue concerning the EU Constitution is this: Which Constitution takes precedence, the European one or the national? That after all is the central question of politics: Where do power and legitimate authority lie? The ‘Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe’ is clear. The new EU State and its Constitution will be paramount.
“The once-in-a-lifetime decision of adopting the EU Constitution would directly concede power and sovereignty to the EU over the legal and constitutional framework that guards our civil liberties and democratic rights. It would do this for our children and future generations. It would change the international status of our country from being an independent democratic State to being a subordinate State within a greater European power. Those pushing the ‘Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe’ are effectively asking us to abandon our right to determine the laws we agree to obey and to decide our own government, which is our most fundamental democratic right”.
The parts I have quoted were from the first three pages of the analysis of the Constitution, which runs to 15 pages. I do not wish to take more valuable space today. But I believe that the above is enough to prove how wrong are those who are trying to dupe readers into believing that the new EU Constitution “changes little” from the existing Treaties. Which is very similar to saying that a life-sentence is not much different than a six-month prison term!
No wonder the prime minister wants to rush through the new EU Constitution before the end of this year despite Dr George Vella’s and Dr Alfred Sant’s plea not to rush ratification in order to give a chance for public opinion to be formed. Once their plea has been rebuffed, what will Labour do now? Will they allow the government to ride roughshod over the Opposition on such a vital step in the life of our country, and expect the Opposition to agree to the ratification, contrary to the oath of allegiance they took to safeguard Malta’s Constitution? Time – and very little of it is left – will tell.
Eddy Privitera


Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta