France against the European Union / The Pacification of Europe (André Belmans (lawyer) (Brussels))




The European Union now consists of 6 large and medium-sized countries and 21 small countries. The former will, together, hold a total of 441 seats in Parliament while the latter will hold a bit more than the previous 291.


This difference in weight is not necessarily cause for alarm. However, the difference in focus gives grounds for concern: most countries focus on the common interests of Europe but a few have not yet overcome their deep-rooted tradition of power politics.


Why are member-states of the European Union finding it so difficult to draft a constitution that is satisfactory all-round? Quite simply because the necessary trust is lacking. Why is it lacking? Because of the power politics of yesteryear. Evidently, several former major powers consider the European unification to be a means to recover some of their lost dominance. They are not in the least bit working at a voluntary and durable pooling of forces in Europe. With every passing day it becomes clearer that a unified Europe is, in their eyes, a new,

prolific battlefield on which to assert their well-known hunger for power.


An alliance between states, be it a federation or a league of nations, can thrive and survive only when the of dominance by one member or a coalition of members is out of the question. Indeed, it assumes strict adherence to the rules of federal loyalty.


The European Union, formerly the European Community, is a half-century old and we can draw some lessons from her short history already.


In the Fifties, the countries of the Benelux managed quite easily to win the approval for their draft founding treaty - the 1957 Treaty of Rome - of three larger countries: France, Germany and Italy. No hidden agenda was suspected when the three small countries of North-Western Europe took these steps.


'This embryonic European union was barely formed when General de Gaulle, back at the helm, unexpectedly responded with the Paris-Bonn axis. Quite patently to keep a tight rein on the union as he saw fit. He did this of his own volition without consulting his partners.


Paul-Henri Spaak, the main founding father of the Treaty of Rome, saw it immediately for the danger it was. In his memoir, Combats Inachevés', he wrote that the French-German alliance did not hold with the spirit of the Treaty of Rome:


"This treaty brings an extra body into the Community, one that was not expected and, alas, I am sure, one that will make things harder..."


Ever since the 1962 Treaty of the Elysée - which established the Paris-Bonn axis - we have been witnessing signs, and increasingly so, that the two former great powers consider the smaller countries to be mere satellite states. They make deals with one another which they then bully the smaller countries into accepting.


Whenever the latter recoil in horror at various imperial decisions or proposals, they are vilified as obstacles to the good of Europe. Nobody points the finger at the power-hungry countries.


Furthermore, the former great powers think nothing of transgressing established regulations whenever it suits them, as, for instance, in the context of the Stability Pact . If their shamelessness knows no bounds before a new constitution has been agreed upon, imagine their impudence when they surmise the smaller countries to be in their pocket


The idea of a two-gear Union, which was resurrected after the rejection of the Plan Giscard, is founded on a gross misapprehension - unless it carries a hidden agenda.


The expectation that the smaller countries will follow suit quite willingly confirms the imperial mentality of some nation and government leaders. The European Core will operate as a scaremonger. The extraordinary attitude of the core-countries in foreign affairs will certainly not be conducive to the acceptance they hope for.


A European Core, centred around the Paris-Bonn axis, will, in fact, be seen as a foreign body within the Union. The question will always be: 'What are the former great powers plotting?"


What's more, the two allies may one day strive for different goals, not an unthinkable proposition, and from that day on, a repeat of the mad situations of a bygone era will be inevitable.


In his extraordinary book Diplomacy Henry Kissinger writes that Gaullist France makes the same mistakes as Napoleon III. A lack of geopolitical insight, ideology and delusions of grandeur lead him to take erroneous steps which had disastrous consequences.



A historical example


A fundamental question facing the European Union, the number one question, concerns peace: what precautions can be taken to prevent the larger countries from causing mayhem again, from seeking to achieve long-desired national goals?


At the time of their inception, the United States of America faced the same problem. Some of the former colonies were powerful, other were weak. Under extraordinary leadership, the members of the Philadelphia Convention found a solution. They devised a fully empowered Senate in which all partners were placed on equal footing by being given equal weight.

Alongside the Senate, a Chamber of People's Representatives - Congress - was created, assembled proportionally. Laws were to be passed through both.


Equal weighting ensures the Senate remains a forum for considering the interests of the Union as a whole. Equal weighting renders the formation of internal alliances impossible. In order to function properly, in order to enable the trade-off between the interests of the Union and those of its members, the Senate has to be a separate body.


The merit of the American structure is underscored when one considers that the United States counts fifty members. The European Union, on the other hand, struggles to find a solution for a Union of more than twenty-seven members. What's more, the American structure has functioned very well for over two centuries, a time span in which France has eroded a dozen constitutions.


The fact that the larger European states reject such a structure corroborates all suspicions that their intentions are dishonest. And yet: Fas est ab hoste doceri.


The big question is whether all European states are ready for a European Europe.


André Belmans

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