Saturday, April 16, 2005

Chirac's EU push sways few voters

The Economist made a joke that requiring school children to read and memorise (if it is even possible) the EU Charter would mean it would contravene itself i.e. the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

I confess, I have not read all 13,000 pages of it and I doubt I ever will. If I thought that Australian High Court Judgements were long, this takes the absolute cake. It's long, tedious and written in admirable Common Law legalese (very very very detailed) even though nearly all of these countries are based on Civil Law traditions.

Anyway, in all seriousness the EU charter is mainly good for 1 thing, a comprehensive consolidation of the reforms after having reviewed current practice. And at long last, this constitution will make clear and delineate the lines of control and power between the EU Parliament in Brussels and the national government. Amongst one of the more notable reform is finally rebalancing the number of votes such that it no longer gives such an obvious advantage to the smaller nations who have in the past held necessary reform hostage, particularly when it comes to renegotiation of aid transfers.

And to be fair to the Yes camp, the No camp's arguments might seem a little spurious or if grounded in fact, is nothing more than naked politiking.

Transpose it to our region, however, and my gut reaction is to oppose an union of ASEAN along the lines of the EU (which is oddly enough the gist of the proposal by Malaysia). The creation of a common currency necessitates the creation of a common Central Bank to ensure that there is some harmonisation amongst member states such that it does not destabilise the economy. Other than opposing it on economic grounds i.e. the nations' economic positions/economy are simply too disparate and while granting the recent absorption of Eastern Europe by the EU, nevertheless feel that we don't exactly have a central nucleus that has done this for a sufficiently long period of time that would allow for the kind of support, guidance and stabilit required.

But assuming that all the (other) nations of ASEAN do hit the levels of middle income nations (as they should baring another financial disaster which would set it back by another couple of years) is it advisable to form 'an ever closer union'? If Europe which is bound by landmass, wars, politics, history, religion and common ones at that nevertheless have problems, what more ASEAN the talkshop where members are still wary of interfering in each other countries (an absolute necessity in a Union, just think of it as a bigger country that's all) adn which has a lot of historical baggage unresolved and a touchy issues to boot?

To be honest, why not just stick with a free trade area? I honestly doubt I'll feel comfortable if policy is runned by an outside agency that we cannot control. And I think in the end, that's what lurks in the minds of the No Vote Camp.



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