The European Constitution

Tonight I went to watch a debate between a Conservative MEP candidate and a Liberal Democrat counterpart on the proposed European constitution. It was organised by the Lib Dems and a group in favour of a federal Europe so the conservative speaker, Jeremy Middleton was quite brave to show up. I thought he did a good job and was a good, clear, charismatic public speaker.

Fiona Hall, the Liberal Democrat speaker was also quite clear, she was a bit too keen to score party political points in my opinion but she did make interesting comments – I learnt things I didn’t know this evening.

It seems to me that you really have to wait for the document to be finalised before you decide whether it’s a good thing or not but on an emotional level I’m all for it and assuming there’s no detail in the final draft that I can’t stomach I’ll not only be voting for it but actively campaigning amongst friends and family.

If a single country passes a law that can adversely affect a business, for example regulating pollution or limiting employee working hours it will disadvantage that country compared to its major trading partners but the same law implemented Europe wide would be much less damaging. Of course such laws have to be kept carefully in check, we still need to be productive and I’m not arguing for more business-hostile laws, but having those regulations that are warrented on a wide an area as possible can only be a good thing.

It also makes sense to me that Europe has a constitution to regulate which powers are held at a state level and which are Europe wide etc. I learnt for the first time tonight that the constitution would allow national parliaments as opposed to just ministers to have input into the drafting stages of European law. That change and the fact that the phrase “…ever closer union” would no longer appear in European treaties makes it slightly surprising that the most vocal opponents of the constitution are the Euro-sceptics.

I guess we’ll here a lot about it before the referendum. I wonder how far away it will actually be?