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Time for the Confederate States of Europe?

An entirely commendable and even necessary push by Ireland to safeguard its economic sovereignty from the machinations of German and French Eurocrats reveals the crippling structural weakness of the EU. The FT reports:

The Irish government has asked the European Union to amend its treaties in order to provide specific legal assurances that the country can continue to control its own corporate tax rate.

The request, which comes against a backdrop of growing calls for greater fiscal union in the EU, reflects Ireland’s concern that it could be forced to raise its ultra-low 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate – a move the government says would undermine its competitiveness and ability to attract inward investment….

For the protocol to be ratified, all EU member states would have to vote on the issue in their national parliaments.

The Irish, still suffering the after effects of their massive banking crisis, are understandably worried about protecting one of the few tools they have to promote economic recovery. Earlier this year Dublin barely foiled a cynical Franco-German ploy to hold interest rates hostage unless the Irish raised their corporate tax rate to match the Central powers. The wary Irish, who rankled the Eurocrats in Brussels in 2008 by initially rejecting the Lisbon Treaty that created an EU constitution, want to make sure they don’t get strong-armed in the future.

Via Meadia is all for that.  But the process exposes one of many weak spots in EU governance. The requirement that all 27 member states (soon to be 28 when Croatia joins) must agree to any significant change in the EU is a disaster waiting to happen. History moves faster than the EU these days.

Europe is not ready for something like the Philadelphia Constitution the United States adopted in 1788; national differences are much too profound and public opinion is not ready for such a step.  Perhaps it should look to Montgomery; the Constitution of the Confederate States of America (dropping that slavery guarantee, of course) might actually work better for Europe than the current US approach.  The Confederate Constitution was much more protective of state sovereignty than the Philadelphia one, but it was significantly stronger than the Articles of Confederation.

Now that Europe has gone all tea party on us, with budget cuts and welfare reform from Ireland to Greece, maybe the next step for the European Union is the Confederate States of Europe.

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  • JLK

    Dr Mead

    You are absolutely correct in your analysis of the EU. They are not ready for the kind of political union necessary to force a consistent corp. tax rate or a panoply of other federation rules that we here in the states take for granted. Ovr 2 dozen countries, all with different cultures and histories cannot agree on policies that would have such an impact on their economies, cultures, and societies without political union.

    (Lack of) Political union has always been the 800# gorilla in the corner that has been ignored until now. Lisbon was difficult enough but going forward with ever more transfers of political power to Brussels just ain’t gonna happen in our lifetime.

    I disagree with your optimism on this subject. My chrytal ball fogs up at this point, but I do know that Europe hitting this road block in a time of crisis means that events will dictate what happens in the future and not decisions made by the gnomes in Brussels.

    The Union has gone as far as it can ignoring the “gorilla’ and now it is either devolution or increased political union. They can’t stand still with Greece plus the PIIGS spriraling downward in the eyes of the bond markets, but they can’t move forward with the current economic union structure in place.

    Much to individual leaders dismay they must realize (I would hope) jogging in place is not an option at this stage. Eventually Italy will tank, Brussels will lose control and devolution will be forced on the “Grand Experiment”. But what takes it’s place is where my vision fails me.

  • bobby b

    “The requirement that all 27 member states . . . must agree to any significant change in the EU is a disaster waiting to happen. History moves faster than the EU these days.”

    Wasn’t there initially a requirement that the citizenry of all 27 member states vote their acceptance of their very place in the EU? Sort of a central issue, I would have thought, but in the face of difficulty, the EUocracy very neatly disposed of all that folderol.

    So, while I agree with you that that step is going to be a rather large drag on further evolution of the EU agreements – Poland’s liberum veto writ larger, really – my Inner Cynic tells me that the EUocracy can hold the rule out as an excuse as needed and also quickly whip it out of the way as they see fit.

  • Ken Moore

    Thank you WRM for your perspective. A cup of Java is good but your articles are better.

  • dearieme

    I think the Swiss Constitution might be held to have withstood fortune more successfully.

  • Anthony

    John Dewey: “Now it is true that social arrangements, laws, institutions are made for man…that they are means and agencies of human welfare and progress.” The import of this conception comes out in considering EU governance; Hegel provides insight into problem when he speaks of “National Territorial States” as consummation and culmination of man’s evolution vis-a-vis human social arrangements.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    The forces tearing the EU apart are much stronger than the forces holding it together. The US should be focused on creating a structure upon which to maintain trade throughout the EU states and the world, during the coming dislocation caused by the EU dissolution.

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