Alternative Vision For Troubled EU Constitution

Friday September 7th 2007

The Adam Smith Institute (ASI) is pleased to announce that John Hopkins has won the Institute's £1000 prize for the best draft EU Constitution under 3000 words in length.

The contest was inspired by widespread and growing concern that both the original rejected constitution and the new draft treaty are far too long and complex to be comprehensible to the citizens of EU member states. The new draft Treaty (English version) is 67,000 words long. The US Constitution, by contrast, is just 7,700 words long.
The ASI is not impressed by the argument that the new draft Treaty accumulates and amends previous treaties, and therefore must be a lengthy document. The bureaucratic fudge of sheltering in past verbosity is lamentable. The purpose of the treaty should simply be to state what the EU is for, and what common principles member states are accepting.

We do not accept the argument that the new EU draft is merely an 'amending treaty' and not a 'Constitution' requiring a UK referendum. The original text, rejected by the French and Dutch electorates, and the new draft are substantially the same. Any attempt to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

Our competition had a range of entries broadly spanning the main difference of opinion, namely whether the EU should be limited to economic matters (a single internal market with open competition under standardised rules) or should embrace social and political convergence as well.  Whilst the ASI embraces the former view, we were looking for the most coherent and professional approach, succinctly expressed.  

The full text of John Hopkins' 2094-word constitution is attached.  His key points are:

    a)   The EU should be a voluntary confederation of democracies. A high degree of consent means that         there should also be considerable scope for opt-out.

    b)   “The objectives of the Union are:

(1) To prevent citizens, organizations or governments of one member state from doing harm to the health, wealth, liberty or environment of others in other member states.

(2) The provision of public works and institutions which private enterprise and individual member states cannot provide."

   c) “The Union shall have exclusive competence in the following areas:

(1) Customs Union

(2) Competition rules necessary for the functioning of the common market

(3) Common Commercial Policy

(4) Monetary policy for member states using the common currency.

The Union may produce binding Law in the following area of cross-border competence:

(5) Environment

(6) Transport

(7) Consumer protection

(8) Internal market."

“The Union shall ensure a common market with free movement of persons, services, goods and capital, and freedom of establishment. Discrimination on grounds of nationality is prohibited."

   d) The Central Bank and Euro should continue much as at present.

The Institute is grateful to all those who took part.  They provided valuable and interesting ideas that could be of great service to Europe's politicians, if only they were more open to informed debate. 

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