Monday, July 04, 2005

Olympic Competition v Political Competition

In Shangai, Paris and London are fighting their last battle in order to secure the organisation of the Olympic Games 2012. Once again, France and UK are face to face, few weeks after the crisis of the European Constitution.

While the competition for the Olympic games is healthy and just, the competition on the prevailing model for Europe is not. Few weeks ago, I praised Tony Blair's speech in front of the European Parliament.
I still agree very much with him that Europe should take concrete steps to go down the economic reforms as set by the Lisbon agenda. Projects for Europe are not lacking, what lacks is an efficient implementation.

What Blair did not mention, however, is the need of reform of European Institutions. As Tocqueville noticed in 1845, writing about his experience in the Swiss Confederation, the weakness of this country [Switzerland] lies in the weakness of its confederal executive, unable to command over its cantons. I think the same can be said for the European Executive, which is now in a position of stagnation and weakness.

According to Tocqueville, the reason of that weakness were to be found in the Federal Law (the federal pact) of 1815, which was an international treaty rather than a Constitution; this pact was regarded by the small cantons as the intangible guarantee of their sovereingty, and by the bigger States surrounding Switzerland as the rigid contract that could be more easily broken in case of a litigation with the small confederal country. Even from this point of view, a parallel could be drawn with contemporary Europe, when regarded from the global perspective.

Toqueville believed that the Swiss federal system could be reformed, instead of turned into a unitary state, as many claimed. History tells us that in 1848, after the civil war of the Sonderbund in 1947, Swiss managed to give itself a proper federal constitution with a strong executive that managed to keep together its different cantons.

Today Europe needs a proper Constitution, with a strong executive able to keep together its parts. The reasons of its crisis can be found in its weak and divided executive. National interests keep prevailing over European integration. This should not be the case, and Tony Blair, as head of the European Council, should act in the name of Europe and its interest.

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