Monday, September 26

A more perfect Union, article by Paloma Baena

‘A more perfect union’. A key phrase in American political rhetoric that kicks off the 1787 Constitution itself.

When speeches like Barack Obama on March 18, 2008 refer to a more perfect union, they actually speak of the protection and strengthening of common values: solidarity, inclusion, individual freedom and non-discrimination. Values ​​that underpin US citizen status, regardless of country of birth.

In Europe, the attempt to approve a European Constitution failed in the first decade of this century, after being rejected in a referendum by France and the Netherlands. The constitutional process was not born from the will of its citizens to constitute themselves as a nation, but from the effort of its rulers to unite them around a single project. Are we now ready to perfect our Union?

In its initial articles, the european constitution states that “the Union is founded on the values ​​of respect for human dignity, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights”. Search “unite in diversity” thanks to profoundly democratic values.

With or without a Constitution, in Europe we are at a time when these values, and their unwavering upholding, will define the future of our Union and also its geopolitical positioning. In the face of the invasion of Ukraine, but also in the face of challenges such as the regulation of the digital economy, the energy transition and climate change or the defense of human rights, large differentiated blocs are emerging again in the world. In the response to these challenges, from a position based on values, the political destiny of the Union will be forged.

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A concrete example is the mechanism that links full participation in the ‘Next Generation EU’ instrument to full compliance with the rule of law. Its adoption was initially blocked by Poland and Hungary, who came to file appeals for annulment of this conditionality before the Court of Justice of the EU. Dismissed these appeals, the conditionality regulation was fully approved and in force.

“The response to aggressions and external ‘shocks’ should only reinforce our common values, with no possible negotiation”

But approving it is not using it. The European Parliament has been particularly critical of the Commission for not using the mechanism with agility in the face of violations of the rule of law by the member states, specifically Hungary and Poland, and in fact announced its complaint to the Commission before the Court of Justice for inaction.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine The risk has been raised that the Commission freezes the application of the conditionality regulation or is more permissive regarding the scope of possible reforms that the countries propose. Being one of the main recipients of refugees, Poland is one of the staunchest states against Russia. As Ukraine’s neighbor, Hungary is also affected, although its position is unclear given its energy links.

Nevertheless, the response to aggressions and external ‘shocks’ should only reinforce our common values, no negotiation possible. The opposite, perhaps practical in the short term, would be damaging the Union in the medium and long term. The Commission recently announced the activation of the mechanism for Hungary for alleged erosions of the rule of law, including corruption, which could be related to European funds. In the case of Poland, it has not yet been activated. It will be necessary to see if the conflict with Brussels continues in the foreground or if it is possible that, given the consequences of the Russian invasion, its national recovery plan will be given the green light without the necessary reforms being produced for full respect for the State of straight.

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It is also possible that the conflict in Ukraine will serve to accelerate the internal reform process. It is precisely full democracy, an independent judiciary, civic freedom and the rule of law that Ukraine defends today with our support, including that of Poland.

Defending the intangible has, as in the case of the United States, an incalculable value: that of uniting us as a society in our difference. With or without a Constitution, we must be prepared to perfect our Union by radically defending our values ​​which are, after all, the origin and destiny of the European project.

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