Monday, May 26, 2003

I can't seem to stop blogging, because what I should be doing is so bloody tedious (typing out Czech production listings for Screen International) and the CD player on my computer doesn't seem to work.

Anyway, I wrote Friday's "International Papers" for Slate about the all-out warfare that's broken out between Britain's tabloids and the prime minister over his reluctance to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution. On the face of it, it's difficult to justify not holding a referendum when people are obviously getting riotous over an issue. Yet I can't help but agree with the government's position in this case. The EU Constitution really will not change much of anything. It simply codifies the numerous complicated treaties that constitute the EU (funny that verb...) in a single document. Euro-skeptics charge that the EU is overly bureaucratic and obstuse; why should they complain about an effort to make it less so?

It seems the real objection is over the word "constitution." Traditionally, independent states have "constitutions" to define how their government works, while two or more states have "treaties" between them. Indeed, the opposition's complaint could pretty easily be taken care of if they simply stopped calling the as-yet-unwritten EU Constitution a "constitution" and simpy called it the GUT, or "Grand Unified Treaty."


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