Home › Forums › 03. Article I – The Federation and the Bill of Rights › Proposed amendments to preliminary Article 1
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1 November 2021 at 14:18 #2251
I hereby propose the following amendments to the preliminary result for Article 1, as described in Progress Report 8 of 31 Oct:
4. Every Citizen has a right of access to documents of the Federation, states and local governments and a right to follow the proceedings of the courts and democratically elected bodies. Limitations to this right may be prescribed by law to protect the privacy of an individual, or else only for extraordinary reasons.
5. The Federal European Union will accede and adhere to a future World Federation on the basis of an Earth Constitution if that Earth Constitution is consistent with provisions of the Constitution of the Federal European Union.
Clause 4 of the original draft has been removed without this being explained in the new explanatory memorandum. I surmise the reason is a consensus that referral to external charters, in general, is a satisfactory and sufficient way of including Rights into the Constitution. I agree. But I must argue that freedom of information and transparency is so fundamental and vital for democracy and legitimacy/public trust in authorities, that it deserves to be included directly right there in Article 1.
Clause 5: Minor change of wording, and correction of our name 🙂
I was initially hesitant to this one; including an external hypothetical into Europe’s Constitution. It might cause misunderstandings, and fuel xenophobic instincts like “do they want the countless Chinese, Indians, Asians and Africans to rule Europe”? But the last part saves the Clause, as it clearly means that Europe will only join a democratic World Federation. And the aspiration in it, the implicit wish for humanity to govern this planet as one in peace and harmony, is beautiful.
I have long dreamt of a World Federation and an Earth Government, and the idea is noble and desirable. But, unfortunately, I observe that human social evolution is not keeping up with world events: Our brains are still wired for tribal instincts. Humankind now faces its greatest existential threat ever; climate change. Not even when doom is facing all of civilization, is there even talk of a World Government that really could have been the only feasible way of saving our species and the spark of intelligence on Earth in the long term. COP26 will fail, too. To sum it up: I am sad to say that I don’t think we will see a World Federation in this group’s lifetimes.
(The only exception I can think of, is if we were to discover aliens with unknown or hostile intent, either already surveilling us or approaching. An external existential threat would unite Earthlings with great haste. The internal, self-made threat of the same magnitude does not have that effect…)2 November 2021 at 09:19 #2252Jakub JermarParticipant
As for the suggested clause 5 and its saving part, it could look consistent with this federal constitution on the paper while in reality it could be quite the opposite. The former communist regimes were known for their willingness to break their own written rules / laws if it justified the cause. For this reason, I would suggest not to write blank checks like this and simply defer the decision to join or not to join the prospective World Federation to a later time when things will be more clear.
From the logic of our own approach to establishing the European federation, such a provision is not even needed because the decision whether to join the prospective World Federation will not be up to the European federation (as a state) but up to its citizens*. Maybe there is even a risk of putting something like that in our constitution as it reinforces the idea that states (or their constitutions) should somehow have a say in whether their citizens can form a federation or not.
On a more general note, I still think we should strive to make our constitution as small as possible. The more bells and whistles that are not absolutely essential for our goal, the more troubles during ratification.
*) I do realize the constitution expresses the will of the citizens3 November 2021 at 06:52 #2257
Good arguments from Jakub; in a vote I would support deleting the World Federation Article. But if there is a majority for keeping it, I stand by my comment and can live with it. But in general: Keeping the Constitution as compact and precise as possible is desirable and wise.5 November 2021 at 13:27 #2270Herbert TombeurParticipant
I want to remember two basic rules in federal and constitutional affairs: as a federation is a layered governance up to sovereignty, only matters regarding the federal level of governance are stipulated in the federal constitution, therefore both the clauses 4 and 5, mentioned above, should be deleted completely. I conclude by referring to clause 3 which is more than large enough for the European Federation to constitute.5 November 2021 at 14:43 #2272
I cannot see why freedom of information/transparency cannot be included at the federal level, in the Constitution, thus requiring members to act in consistency with the intentions of the Federation’s Constitution. I’m not a scholar in constitutional law, but as a journalist/editor relying on my common sense, I stand by my proposal re: Clause 4.
If Herbert’s surprising claim is right, then I suppose my proposal only needs to delete these words: “, states and local governments”.
But then the purpose of trying to build better governance of Europe than the EU, unable as it is to rein in Poland now, begins to crumble, in my view. What are the implications of Herbert’s statement? That a member state can restrict fundamental federal rights and still remain part of the federation? That a Poland or a Hungary can go autocratic without having to leave the federation? I cannot believe this is what is meant by states retaining their sovereignty, only sharing some parts of it with the federal body.
I look forward to the Board’s & others’ comments.5 November 2021 at 23:12 #2273AnonymousInactive
I agree with the comment of Herbert Tombeur to delete the clauses 4 and 5. Clause 4 is already laid down in treaties (f.i. public procedures in the courts) and laws of the states, and why right of information and not other rights (demonstration, right to unite)? And clause 5 seems too unrealistic now (see remarks Jakob).
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