- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 20, 2004

The problem with the European Union is that Europeans have yet to feel unified. The EU’s June 13 parliamentary elections suggest that enthusiasm and influence have switched to Euroskeptic parties, who have won a plurality in the EU parliament. The dreams of EU elites to fashion a European superstate in the mold of the United States appear as far away as ever, with Brussels struggling over ratification of an EU constitution.

We are not opposed to a European superstate per se. Should voters in EU member states decide that their welfare would be improved by relinquishing much of their national sovereignty, so be it. But last Sunday’s results tell a vastly different story. Not only did Euroskeptic parties gain the upper hand in the parliament, but voter turnout reached its lowest level since direct elections were instituted in 1979. Election results suggest that the populations of former Soviet Bloc countries are apathetic to their newly-gained status as EU states. In Poland, for instance, voter turnout was just 20 percent. More than anything else, this suggests that all is not well with continental unity. As the Economist noted, in 2003, for the first time more than half of Europeans believed that their country’s EU membership was not a good thing.

We would oppose a unilateral effort by EU elites to forge ahead with their dreams regardless. Under the leadership of Germany and France, smaller member states have grown increasingly concerned, with good reason, that ultimate EU power will reside in the Paris-Berlin-Brussels axis. French President Jacques Chirac hopes that one day the European Union under a strong central government will serve as a counterbalance to American power. During the EU’s constitutional summit that began on Thursday, leaders from the 25 member states continually deadlocked over issues of state sovereignty.

At 200 pages and counting, the EU constitution is more an exercise in piddling legalities than in promoting the public welfare. While debating constitutional minutiae, European leaders should not ignore the fact that many Europeans simply do not understand how a superstate will benefit them, nor do they care very much. Plowing ahead with fantasies of a continent united while ignoring national sovereignty will not only lead to failure, but will set a terrible precedent for the rest of the international community.

The United States should not stay too quiet while the process of EU building forges ahead if it appears that smaller nations are in danger of forfeiting their sovereignty. Such silence would undermine U.S. opposition to the International Criminal Court and other post-modern institutions.

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