EUROPE CHARTS ITS PATH; European Union's Drafters Tackle Old, Familiar questions.(PAGE ONE)(SPECIAL REPORT)
Byline: David R. Sands, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
It's not Philadelphia 1787, and Valery Giscard d'Estaing may never be mistaken for George Washington, but the European Union's effort to write a constitution is bumping up against some of the same questions that bedeviled America's Founding Fathers.The power to tax and wage war, big states versus little states, the need for a bill of rights, centralization versus local government, the separation of powers, accommodating future members, democracy and efficiency - all are on the table as the 15-nation European Union strives to draft the alliance's first constitution.
Some argue that the grandly named "Convention on the Future of Europe" must succeed if the European Union's creaky governing structure in Brussels is to avoid seizing up, a victim of its own inefficiency and lack of popular support.
Mr. Giscard, 76, the former president of France, is leading the assembly charged with producing a preliminary report this summer and a final blueprint by June 2003 for European governments to consider.
The convention, which follows a series of contentious EU government summits that have failed to produce a long-term road map, has been given a mandate to chart the future of the European Union after 2004, when the alliance prepares to welcome as many as 10 new members from central and southeastern Europe.
The heart of the effort will be the drive to draft a constitution to safeguard individual rights, protect the prerogatives of the member states and forge a more concrete connection between the Brussels bureaucracy and the typical Spaniard, Finn and Scotsman on the street.
Conservative political activist Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation predicted hard times ahead for the EU drafters, based on his own extensive experience advising constitution-drafters in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia after the end of the Cold …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: EUROPE CHARTS ITS PATH; European Union's Drafters Tackle Old, Familiar questions.(PAGE ONE)(SPECIAL REPORT). Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Washington Times (Washington, DC). Publication date: July 21, 2002. Page number: A01. © 2009 The Washington Times LLC. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.