Friday, June 03, 2005
EU Constitution Worries Aspiring Members
Or: We Still Want In. Can We Have France and Holland's Seats?
VIENNA, Austria - Stuck on the sidelines, the nations with the most to lose in the European Union's deadlock over its proposed new constitution could be the countries that don't yet belong.Ain't that a crying shame? They've been manicuring their lawns and painting their houses hoping to get voted into the neighborhood homeowner's association just as they realize that they live in Watts and their neighbors are goons.
As Europeans took stock Thursday of the charter's troubles, leaders and ordinary citizens in Turkey and across the former Soviet bloc worried that the crisis might conspire against their dreams of joining the EU.
Having worked tirelessly and against all odds to prepare for membership, many couldn't help but wonder whether Europe is coming apart just when they're getting their acts together.
Then the anxiety reaches laughable levels.
This week's momentous repudiations by the Dutch and the French — both founding members of the now 25-nation EU — "shattered the very concept for a European Union," said Ivan Krastev, a political analyst in Bulgaria, which hopes to join with neighboring Romania in 2007.Shattered concept? National tragedy? Oh, my! But the kicker comes a few paragraphs later:
Bulgaria's independent Dnevnik newspaper echoed that bleak outlook, saying "the collapse of enlargement verges on national tragedy."
Spurred by dreams of unprecedented prosperity, stability and freedom of movement, EU candidates like Romania have spent the last decade constructing democracies and building market economies from scratch. Having invested so much, they have the most at stake.Now, I know that leaders of Eastern European countries don't come to the Coffeehouse for advice, but they should. The advice here is good. Here's some now, and it's free!
Building democracies and building market economies are very good ideas, even for their own sake. Some measures of the success of these endeavors are the liberty and the prosperity of your citizens and the extent to which they participate in the ownership and governance of your nation. The extent to which these reforms makes you better friends with France is much less important. If you do well, in a generation France and Holland may well be begging to join the Romania-Bulgaria Free Trade Zone. I suggest you don't accept them.