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Maciamo
20-11-03, 14:12
BBC News : EU values - united in diversity? (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3280697.stm)


"The US and Europe are both engaged in regime change. The Americans drop bombs from 30,000 feet. We have a more subtle way.

"We change the social, economic and legal systems, which involves root and branch upheaval of all parts of society."

Unlike al-Qaeda and the Taleban - the objects of the US-led operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan - the eight Central European states joining the union next year (along with Cyprus and Malta) have mostly lapped up the EU's message.

They largely see it as a return to their own Central European heritage.



"The union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights," says Article Two of the draft of the EU's first constitution, currently being finalised by an intergovernmental conference.

"These values are common to the member states in a society of pluralism, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination."


The Union's aim is to promote peace, its values, and the well-being of its peoples

Constitution Article 3 (I)
So far, so uncontroversial. But the constitution enters riskier territory by incorporating in full the Charter of Fundamental Rights - which enshrines the right to strike, and to collective bargaining, as well as guaranteeing workers' consultation rights and protection against unfair dismissal, social security benefits and social housing.

It is rights of this kind that are meant to distinguish Europe from the US, but the subject causes some unease in the UK.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher branded an earlier EU charter - on Fundamental Social Rights - as "socialist" and refused to sign it.

The current UK government, meanwhile, has made great efforts to ensure that the new charter cannot be invoked in court to bind the hand of nation states, except when they are implementing union law.



In many states the charter is held up proudly as a European bill of rights, a definition of EU citizenship, and a guarantee of social protection without parallel in the world.

If in this respect the UK finds itself outside the EU's mainstream, some of the new members may, in other ways, be even further out of kilter.

"It is a different culture with different traditions - and not just because of the last 40 years of communism," says Fraser Cameron.

"There is a lack of familiarity with democratic practices, a limited appreciation of human rights and minority rights, and there is no vocal civil society. Courts pay lip service, but don't really follow through very much."

He predicts post-enlargement friction between West and East - lecturing from old member states, and defensiveness from the new ones - especially if there is a repeat of the sharp words exchanged during the Old-Europe / New-Europe row over Iraq.

A member of the Polish parliament, Janusz Lewandowski, explains the Polish perspective: many Poles, he says, see a danger of the EU watering down their conservative Christian heritage with liberal values, and accelerating the secularisation of Polish society.

"In Polish eyes, the EU is progressing too much on abortion, homosexuality, and on all sorts of minorities which are better and better protected in the EU," he says.



The Polish Government agrees and is spearheading a campaign for a reference to "Judaeo-Christian roots" in the preamble to the EU constitution.

This proposal points up another faultline in the European system of values.

Poland has some support from Spain and Italy, but for France and Belgium the rigid separation of church and state is an article of faith. They are adamantly opposed.

Germany, the UK and the European Commission also believe that the existing reference to "the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe" is probably the best compromise.

Satori
20-11-03, 16:48
"The union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights," says Article Two of the draft of the EU's first constitution, currently being finalised by an intergovernmental conference.

"These values are common to the member states in a society of pluralism, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination."


The Union's aim is to promote peace, its values, and the well-being of its peoples

Constitution Article 3 (I)
So far, so uncontroversial. But the constitution enters riskier territory by incorporating in full the Charter of Fundamental Rights - which enshrines the right to strike, and to collective bargaining, as well as guaranteeing workers' consultation rights and protection against unfair dismissal, social security benefits and social housing.

This sounds really good.

Maciamo
13-12-03, 01:46
BBC Talking point : Will EU states ever fully agree on constitution? (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/3309791.stm)

" Britain's position on the forthcoming European constitution was top of the agenda as Tony Blair and other European leaders completed the first day of their summit in Brussels.
The new constitution will thrash out the future balance of power in the European Union.

But there may be trouble ahead with Poland and Spain wanting to keep voting rights they gained three years ago.

Poland has hinted it may veto the proposed new constitution if its voting rights are downgraded.

So will the constitution ever be possible considering the different economic and political motivations for each member state? "

Please, have your say here or on the BBC website.

Mine, as it appears on the BBC site is :

"I think that there is a need for a multiple-speed EU. As with the Euro, if some countries don't want to ratify the constitution, then they should stay out politically and let others proceed. Poland especially should not join the EU at all if they want to impose their self-centred views (voting rights and Christianity) before even joining."

bossel
13-12-03, 18:10
Originally posted by Maciamo
"I think that there is a need for a multiple-speed EU. As with the Euro, if some countries don't want to ratify the constitution, then they should stay out politically and let others proceed. Poland especially should not join the EU at all if they want to impose their self-centred views (voting rights and Christianity) before even joining."

Good points. I wouldn't be as harsh on the Poles, but they really come into the EU with quite an attitude.