Strengthening the EU; Secession Could Be a Means to Reform

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 21, 2005 | Go to article overview

Strengthening the EU; Secession Could Be a Means to Reform


Byline: Sylvain Charat, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

"Any member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements." John C. Calhoun would have liked it and Jefferson Davis used it. Abraham Lincoln would have opposed it. Yet it would have saved the lives of thousands - the right to secede.

Granting this right as a constitutional right may be quite unexpected. Yet this is precisely what the European Union did with Article I-60 of its constitutional treaty project as quoted above. Thus the withdrawal would be made through an agreement with the union which would establish the future relationship with the secession state.

But it is not all: The EU also grants the constitutional right to come back. The procedure would then follow the usual application for any states to enter the Union as detailed in article I-58: "The Council shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament."

Because of their past, Americans may be more sensitive than other people to this right and its consequences.This gesture is unique in history, making the European Constitution incredibly flexible. With a door wide open for those who want to leave - and left open for them to return - the European Union is setting forth a striking modern constitutional right.

As divorce has been legalized, a divorce procedure was created between countries. History gives lessons: Compromises are not good long-term solutions to keep all states together. In American history, such compromise builders as Henry Clay just bought time before the Civil War broke out.

Paradoxically, the right to secede may strengthen the union. In its building, the European Union is cautious about not missing any steps. Providing a flexible framework in order to preserve peace on a continent which was ravaged by wars is a priority. It is wise politics to enable a country that does not want to stay to leave the union. …

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