Preamble is too verbose

By Jakub Jermar

Home Forums 02. Preamble Preamble is too verbose


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    AvatarJakub Jermar

    Compared to the US preamble and also the older draft from the European Federalist Papers, the current draft Preamble starts to feel a little verbose and too detailed, and may already open some sensitive topics which are better left to federal laws and politics later.

    As a citizen who sees the draft for the first time and is asked to ratify it, I’d maybe welcome a minimalist version which tells what this is all about and no more. A minimalist version can have the benefit of being equally appealing (or repulsive) to both the liberal- and conservative- minded citizens.

    As an exercise, I came up with this example:

    We, the Citizens of the several European states, do hereby recognize and
    acknowledge certain common interests that make us one People. In order to
    secure these interests, we exercise our sovereignty to establish a new level of
    free government for ourselves, equip it with sufficient powers and delegate to
    it the competences we enumerate in this Constitution.

    Now, I am not saying this should replace the current draft Preamble – I certainly didn’t put that much effort into it. I just wanted to present what I consider a minimalist, yet reasonably complete version which avoids unnecessarily idealistic language.

    I am looking forward to your thoughts and comments about this.

    AvatarFabrice Luijten

    Hi Jakub,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Together with one of the 55+ participants (Koen van Bremen) I discussed your point. And to some extent we agree to your point that a minimalist version is less prone to triggering the dividing discourses of politics. Which would lead to an ‘easier’ acceptance/ratification of this kind of document. So from a realpolitik-perspective, we agree on your point.

    On the other side, we felt that in a foundational document like this, it is important to start explicitly with the purpose of the ‘game’, before going into the ‘rules of the game’ (I am using the analogy of a board game here). Otherwise, why play the game at all if it is just rules and procedures? Where is the value in that? So the topic we came up with: “How can we clearly state a purpose for the federation that inspires us as a civilization to live up to our potential, without falling in the pitfall and the domain of day-to-day political ideology and discussion?”

    This insight lead to an interesting discussion on what should be the purpose of the federation? This discussion learned me that,
    a) to have this discussion with each other every now and again is really interesting, insightful and important. Because it is a discussion that helps bring alive the soul of this federal body.
    b) some central points like ‘the pursuit of happiness’ are really not that obvious and might be open to alternatives like ‘dignified existence’. For instance, this would change the Ia text from:
    – “that the federation of the United States of Europe hereby established by us has the task and duty to support us as citizens in our search for happiness in freedom;”
    – “that the federation of the United States of Europe hereby established by us has the task and duty to support us as citizens in our search for a humanly dignified life;”

    So I would like to finish this post with a couple of questions to the other participants:
    – Is it worthwile to request a video call (as suggested in progress report no. 4) on the 23rd of october to discuss what should be the overall aim / purpose of the federation?
    – What do you think of ‘the task and duty to support us as citizens in our search for happiness in freedom’ as the main purpose of the federation? Do you agree or would you have other suggestions?

    AvatarGiuseppe Martinico

    October 23 could work but it depends. I proposed- with another member of the group, Cristina Fasone- the use of the concept of human dignity in the Preamble

    AvatarOlivia Munoz

    Hello, I just wanted to add a reflection to this really interesting discussion: simply, that the pursuit of a minimalist, value-neutral or interests-only-oriented preamble is perhaps itself a reflection of the times we live in. In other words, I think it is hard, if not impossible, to draft any political document as if in a historical vacuum.

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