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She's back

Posted by Helen Wednesday, April 06, 2005

No, not Cruella, this time but the fragrant Margot, a far less elegant personality if her own description of herself is anything to go by.

It seems there is to be no explanation as to why a personal blog that was to be updated twice a week lapsed to once a week and then to a fortnight. Apparently the poor thing was unwinding from a stressful job.

Well, I guess it is quite stressful to be Commissar for Truth and Reconciliation but I also think that she might have used the time quite profitably to find out what she is talking about.

This blog is businesslike in a fluffy sort of way (fluffiness being the hallmark of this particular blog), apart from her last line with a laughably trite attempt at philosophical musing:

“And springtime seems to bring out the best or the depression of people – buy a new skirt or a shot gun?”
Presumably that is not an either-or situation but, in any case, if the fragrant Commissar wants to muse on the contradictions inherent in spring, she could look at very many examples of literary writing that put it all much more cogently and profoundly. Start with Chaucer and T. S. Eliot, Ms Wallström, both writing about April and looking at the month in very different ways.

The bulk of the posting is to do with the Constitution, her highly paid job being the explication and advocation of it. Alas, she does keep getting things wrong.

At this point I should mention, à la Margot, that I had to have a cup or so of strong coffee to clear my head in order to understand what the fragrant Commissar is actually trying to say. (I also read a chapter or two of a Mrs Pollifax novel but that did not help, merely underlining the sheer silliness of the Margot blog.)

So, here we go. It seems that there are three aspects to the Constitution: symbolic, institutional and policy. The last is of no importance, according to the fragrant Commissar, because very little has changed in most policy areas, a fact that some (presumably including Vice-President Wallström) regret.

As a matter of fact there are quite a few changes, especially in the justice and security areas as well as the abolition of the national veto in more areas, but, hey, who’s counting.

What about the other two aspects?

“From a SYMBOLIC point of view it is fundamental – because it describes the values and objectives of the European Union, it strengthens the European citizenship and gives explicit rights to all of us and it even establishes common symbols like a flag and an anthem (which of course complements the national ones).”
Ahem, who exactly is Commissar Wallström to give us explicit rights? Here we can see the crucial difference between the two world views: there are those (and we on this blog are among them) who think that rights come from the people either as individuals or as a nation, and are handed to the state by agreement for a certain purpose.

Then there are those, and Commissar Wallstöm is among them, who think that rights are something the state can grandly bestow on the people.
“From an INSTITUTIONAL point of view it is very important – because it explains that the EU can only do what member states confers upon it, it explains how decisions will be taken in a more effective way and it gives more power to the national parliaments and citizens, who can oppose or propose an initiative supported by new provisions in the text.”
This statement is known technically as a lie. Well, all right, an untruth. Let us be courteous. The Constitution does not explain “that the EU can only do what member states confers upon it” (let us disregard the curious grammar there as presumably the fragrant Commissar’s secretary did not have time to check it).

On the contrary the Constitution explains that after it had been adopted the superior status of European legislation will be rooted in the Constitution itself. Furthermore, it explains that the EU will decide whether national governments will be allowed to legislate on matters it will generously leave to them.

As for the “more power to the national parliaments and citizens …” – well, you do wonder whether the lady has actually read this document.

In the first place how is it that we do not have the power to control our legislation? In the second place, by what method can citizens or national parliaments propose or oppose and where does the text give anything remotely resembling an explanation?

In the third place, the Protocol that deals with the role of the national parliaments explains that they can, indeed, object to certain legislation and if enough of them do, the Commission is duty bound to pay attention.

It is not, however, bound in any way to do anything about that objection. So, where is this great power?

One thing has not changed. The fragrant Commissar for Truth and Reconciliation may have had an invigorating holiday and may have come back full pep and vim. But she is still not replying to any of the comments on her blog.