Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Selling Europe's Constitution

Voila - a legendary souvenir from my time at Oxford, an original copy from the British government of the proposed Euro Constitution. Surely a collector's edition in 50 years or so...

I just finished my first all-nighter, pulled trying desperately to make some sense of the differences involved in treaty-making under European Community Law contrasted with European Union Law (yes, there is a difference between those two, both applicable in various guises as we type) versus how things would work under this new, to-be-ratified constitution. Easily the most fascinating and topical course of the BCL, it will be the one I remember when Oxford is but a faint, happy memory.

The presentation went as well as could be hoped (read: I came across somewhat knowledgeable and without incident) and this massive chunk of white paper that goes by the name of "Constitution" was my reward. Apparently the Professor called up a newly established office in the British Government, its sole purpose to educate and persuade United Kingdom voters to accept the document when the referendum rolls around. What you see above is the best packaging they can muster to date, and to top it off, only two were available for our class of 14. This after it was duly signed by Tony Blair last October, and prospects for a successful vote looking ever-bleak. Memo to someone - might be a good idea to make it available if you want to convince people to get onboard, let alone understand it.

And that isn't even the funniest part. It is clear in this "EU as an Actor in International Law" class(offered at Oxford for the first time this year) that not even my keenest EU law classmates have a solid grasp on the subject matter yet. So, as you can imagine, it should make for an interesting campaign in trying to sell the Constitution to sceptical John and Jane Q. Public, when even Oxford-educated lawyers in the field cannot say for certain what its various provisions actually mean. So is the way of all constitutions in their infancy, I suppose. But it does make you wonder if ratification by public referendum is really the way to proceed with something like this...

In any event, keep watching this space for more humorous outtakes and little known facts about the European Union. My day is officially over: I'm off to buy a Whopper with cheese, watch Oxford destroy Cambridge in Women's Lacross, catch the England-Holland friendly, and then end the night by screening "Men with Brooms" for the international kids here at St. Hugh's before sweet sleep. Life is beautiful.


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