Thursday, June 16, 2005

Now Germany Gets Cold Feet About The EU

First France conceded the current iteration of the EU constitution was undesirable. Then it was the Dutch. (But Latvia signed up!) Now we discover the Germans are having reservations about the EU, though not in a way that would let you think their politicians are walking away from it:
The German upper and lower houses of parliament both backed the treaty, leaving President Horst Koehler to sign it into law.

But the German constitutional court is still to rule on an MP's complaint against parliament's approval.

[President Horst Koehler's] signature is required for German ratification to take effect.


A statement from Mr Koehler's office said: "The federal president will not process the corresponding ratification law until the Federal Constitutional Court has decided."

Is the German president crossing his fingers that the Constitutional Court will reject the treaty? It makes sense to me. Some 40% of Dutch voters rejected the treaty on concerns of EU expansions, which you may read as "inclusion of Muslim Turkey". But under the treaty, Germany becomes something of a slave state to the rest of the EU nations, paying out far more than they get back. For a country with substantial unemployment and actuarial problems, that's no small matter.

A similar issue -- known as the UK rebate -- clouds British participation in the union. Because the largest subsidies in the EU will go to farming, and Britain has a relatively small farm sector, it got shortchanged between outgo and income for the EU budget. In recompense for joining, the EU gave Britain a rebate -- which the EU now wants back. Too many states, too many conflicting desires. My bet is that the EU is a dead duck; it may take a while to collect on that, but the bird is sick if nothing else.