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Le vote français plonge l'Europe dans une période d'incertitudes

The vote in France on the Constitution does raise complex issues. Like many of these debates the issues that determined the vote were probably mainly nothing to do with the constitution itself.

Looking at the text it appears to be a bit messy and something generated very much for the convenience of the bureaucracy. The simplistic "pro-European" argument is that "something must be done" - "this is something" - "therefore this must be done".

I do like Graham Allen's approach which is one of revisiting the issue. The failure to agree the constitution has no immediate effect. However, we really do need to understand what we are trying to achieve.

Do we want a "light touch" Europe which maintains a customs union and economic union. Alternatively do we want something that in terms of an "ever closer union" gradually eradicates differences between different parts of the union as they get "ever closer".

I personally go for the first option. I am "pro-European" to the extent that I believe we should remain within the EU. However, that should be a decentralised "light touch" Europe.

The debate over the EU budget whether it should be 1% or 1.09% of GDP highlights the difficulty. The UK Labour MEPs want 1.09%, the UK Labour MPs want 1%. The same applies to other groups. Those people who personally participate in the mechanisms of the European Union take a view that more decisions should be taken at the centre.

To me the issue of "subsidiarity of subsidiarity" is the key issue. It is the question as to who determines the level at which a decision is to be appropriately taken.

Finding people who decide that they should not take a particular decision, but should leave it to someone else is difficult. In the absence of a very clear mechanism for ensuring decentralisation we should resist all attempts to streamline the centralisation of decisions. (eg the EU Constitution).

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

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KING’S BENCH DIVISION

R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

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