Saturday, 28 March 2009

We want informed debate on Europe! (But Europe shouldn't take part)

The EU is distant; it doesn't engage; people feel uninformed about the issues and there is rarely any debate on substantive issues - the only debate seems to be infrequent, confused and hurried grandstanding on the constitutional issues.

People want more information. There should be more debate on what legislation is passed and decisions are made at an EU level.

Perhaps a campaign to try to engage people in the European elections would be a good idea? No, that would be propaganda.

Now this campaign is not at all likely to be effective - billboards cannot replace a vigorous political party debate and campaign, and these billboards aren't much good to start off with - but it does highlight a certain attitude which is sadly quite widespread in some approaches to debates on Europe, on both the pro-Europe and Eurosceptic sides. And it's mainly this: if a viewpoint on Europe comes from outside the member state, it is derided as foreign and therefore invalid and not worthy of consideration; official information campaigns are automatically labeled propaganda and are unhelpful to the debate.

Wait - so, on issues that effect more than one European country, other Europeans views are invalid; and in an area where people decry the lack of information, the official stance and official information is ignored? Perhaps I'm missing something, but how else do you improve the quality of debate and participation if you don't bring in more views and perspectives and never discuss the pros and cons of official policy? Is there another way?

I don't think so. As I've written before in more detail, all information has an ideological standpoint (something I've tried to put across in response to an Open Europe article), including official information and policy. But to dismiss its value out of hand for debates misses the point completely: after all, what would national political debates be like if nobody ever talked about what the government does or thinks on a particular issue? If policy statements or facts issued by the government are merely dismissed as propaganda and meddling in the debate, then it devalues the debate.

Basically, as long as politicians on both sides refuse to examine and debate and engage with official sources of information or other Europeans who are equally effected by common decisions, the public at large will be largely cut off from the political world and the decision-making process. And as long as the media doesn't hold the politicians to account, they will get away with it.

If anyone can show me how the debate can be enriched and the public engaged more without doing this; by continuing to exclude opinions and policies from the EU institutions, then let me know. But for now it seems to me that the unwillingness of politicians to fight on the basis of ideas and policies is what's really holding back and diminishing the quality of politics in today's Europe.


  1. Do citizens themselves have any obligations or responsibilities?

    Polls consistently show that the ones who know the least about the EU are the ones most negative. But in democracies it is not possible to force-feed the population with information, even if important.

    Is there a lack of information?

    The EU institutions (with notable black holes like dealings in the Council) produce more information than any individual can follow.

    The legislation and a lot of other material is correct and objective. It is misleading to call it propaganda, like some anti-EU campaigners do.

    Press releases and statements are, in my view, much like corporate communications (including public sector) in general; essentially correct, but glossing over problems. The institutions show more solidarity to each other than to the EU citizens.

    All in all, the EU produces much better information than admitted by its detractors.

    But outside the small circle of dedicated citizens, the uptake is fairly low among the national politicians who should discuss the themes, among the media and among the public.

    The long lead times, endless haggling, especially Council secrecy, minimal compromises (sometimes to reach unanimity) and institutional complexity are enough to make all but the most dedicated to lose their appetite.

    The EU institutions can pour millions into 'objective' information and awareness campaigns, but they cannot change the basic situation.

    The only way to make a real difference is to do a bit more than constitutional grandstanding, by actually changing the way the EU works.

    For citizens it may take some getting used to being one 375 millionth part of the democratic process, but the only way to engage citizens is by giving them the decisive word on the government of the EU.

    When campaigns have a clear outcome and a majority forms the government, the populist attacks against the undemocratic nature of the EU would slowly be replaced by campaigns with pan-European top candidates, media interest and citizens' participation.

  2. I am an anti-EU campaigner. I state that to allow you to see where I am coming from.

    I simply can not see a reason for the EU. The assumption that you make is that there are a massive amount of people out there who are crying out for information on the EU – there aren't – people on the whole are disinterested in the EU.

    Grahnlaw is correct in his belief that there is more than enough information coming out of the EU -I suspect that he is one of the people who gains from this. The problem with this is that it is all in the form of bureaucratic newspeak. One only has to compare the US Constitution with the EU Constitution/Reform/Lisbon Treaty to realize that this is so.

    In the UK, bureaucracies are often only perceived in one way – they are the equivalent of men digging holes in the road only for others to fill the holes up – they are seen as a way of employing people, but in such a way as to support the ruling 'elite'. When confronted with information from this 'elitist' clique they simply switch off. There is also a massive debate going on in Britain vis a vis the private sector supporting the public sector – the EU is seen as an extension of an ever-growing public sector.

    I am sorry if I seem to be using the European Citizen blog for having a go at Grahnlaw but as we are talking in a general manner, a thing I couldn't do on his own blog because of the legalese, I would like to say one thing.

    Grahnlaw always talks at great length about the rights of the ordinary 'citizen', but what of the right of someone like me who does not want to be a EU citizen. It seems to me that the more integrated the people of the UK seem to be with the EU the less rights they have. Neither do I believe I have 'obligations or responsibilities' to this regime – I wish to be free of it.

    The last point I would make, and once again it is to Grahnlaw, is that, in my experience, the people who are most negative about the EU tend to be the people who know a lot about it – we have to know our enemy to fight it.

  3. @ Grahnlaw:

    In an ideal world people would have the time and resources to engage in political debate, but sadly this can be patchy at best even at the national level. Which is why I think the media need to change and fulfill their responsibilities as the "4th estate" - by providing the public with information, critical analysis and a forum to debate their views. This is the public interest, and they should start serving it properly instead of invoking it to cover reports on the sex lives of Formula 1 bosses.

    Politicians are to blame too, but it's supposed to be the media that holds them to account (or provides us with the information to hold them to account).

    I agree that the institutions need to be more democratic, and it will help the debate, but debating cultures take longer to change - I believe we need to demand that the media live up to its duty, and improve the debate in national and European politics.

    @ wg:

    Perhaps I'm too much influenced by my Irish perspective, but the main critism of the debate was that there was not enough information for citizens and that debate is all too infrequent (mainly during refereda rather than on the issues and policies of the EU inbetween constitutional matters). As a matter of principle, I would argue that there should be information made available and debates sparked on European issues as healthy and necessary in a democracy. As an anti-EU campaigner I assume that you feel that the EU makes decisions on things that matter, so surely that's reason for more media attention and public debate?

    It's also part of a wider criticism of the media which - at least in the English-speaking world - is increasingly failing in its duty to the citizens. While the news media is treated as a commodity, and in some repects it is just that, the special place of the news media in our society and the significance it has for democracy (along with it's own invokations of its duties to public service) mean that the news media needs to serve these needs in both a national and European context. This is increasely sorely lacking.

    There is no need for a massive amount of people to be out there for this duty to be neglected. The mere fact that there are neither the resources nor the forum for debate on issues which may concern some, and even more "casually interested" citizens when it concerns a certain policy area, is enough to indicate a failure to live up to the supposed role of the media. That is no real arena to debate these issues is a serious failure, and arguably in and of itself institutionally is a factor in decreased interest in debate on several issues.

    The main practical rationale for the EU at the moment is the single market. The different (and in some cases competing) ideological rationales would (and do) fill several tomes.

    I've posted before on this (the single market), admittedly a bit sketchily (, but basically the single market is a much, much freer market than a free trade area, as it removes tariff barriers, other fiscal barriers and non-fiscal barriers to trade, whereas a free trade area only removes tariff barriers. For the single market to function, there needs to be a common legal regime, with common rules. Common rules need common institutions as both a mechanism for setting the rules and a political space for member states and representatives of the citizens to debate and decide on such rules.

    To this you can add idealistic Europeanism if you are so inclined.

    The bureaucratic nature of the information is a problem and should be simplified as far as possible (keeping in mind that the EU legislates in some very technical areas) - but it is generally the media's role (along with politicians) to explain and inform the public and debate the pro and cons of such policies and legislation, which leads back to my frustration expressed in the article.

    If bureaucracy turns people off, then surely that's a reason to politicize the issues and explain and debate them in terms of their polcy goals. In the current climate it should be easy to see that legislation on market regulation is contested by the left and right and that other issues which are partly dealt with by the EU (environment, etc) are political too.

    Unless of course you agree with the academics who argue that the EU concerns itself with areas too technical for political debate, and therefore the EU should not be politicized but be a bureaucratic/technocratic organisation. Again, since you are an anti-EU campaigner, I assume you do not share their outlook that the EU's dealings aren't an important area for political debate.

  4. I’m afraid that people in my position have no faith whatsoever in the press to present a truthful and accurate account of what is going on in the EU. I will give an example.

    There is a large (and growing) anger in the UK concerning the ability of people to hold onto their ancient and sovereign rights. These were contained in our Magna Carta and are most evident in our system of law under Habeas Corpus. (Incidentally, this is apparently a mistaken romantic belief, as most of Habeas Corpus is now believed to have disappeared in recent years with measure brought in for the, so-called, war on terrorism) There is a strong belief in Britain today that our system of Habeas Corpus is now being replaced with the continental Corpus Juris.

    Jack Straw, who seems to be the chief villain of the piece, seems to aligning our laws to be nearer to the Corpus Juris system in order to come into line with the EU. There is documentary evidence of this and the actions of our government seem to be heading this way – imprisonment without trial and trial without juries.
    This seems to be being done in such a way that when there is a proposal to harmonise our law with EU law the people concerned can say “Look, we’re not that different anyway”

    This sort of thing is alarming to myself and a lot of others but nowhere do we see this debated in the media.

    Also, as a manual worker, I have become aware of the exploitive nature of the right to free movement of workers. It has been obvious to me for several years that a ‘corporate’ EU is using the unequal wealth of the EU countries to exploit the manual worker. European Court of Justice rulings such as Ruffert, Viking and Laval have only confirmed that opinion.

    We never see this type of thing discussed in the newspapers; discussions on bent cucumbers and the pint glass seem to be all they are interested in.

    I will say one thing. Whether you appreciate the intervention of Libertas in the Ireland referendum or no, it seemed to the people of the UK that the Irish were so much better informed when Ganley was in the race. Our papers did not even try to analyse the Lisbon Treaty in any depth.

    I’m afraid that I favour small government and I value my freedom and privacy more than anything else. Eccentric and insular maybe, but I would want for anyone else the freedom to be how he or she is; there is no way that I would seek to impose my laws or customs on them. The EU, in this respect, is anathema to me.

  5. Well, I'm calling for more debate in the media and for more investigative and discursive journalism that would serve those needs, so I'm not sure what your first point is really aiming at.

    As for the ancient and sovereign rights under the Magna Carta, which do you believe (or many believe, if you don't include yourself in your example) are under threat from the EU, or would be endangered by the influence of the civil law legal system? Scotland uses a mix of common and civil law, so I doubt that they fear the insidious influence of the Romans, or are they any less free?

    If you refer to the rule of law and the protection of the individual from the state, these can be and are achieved in both common law and civil law systems. Unfortunately protection of the individual from state power is weaker in the UK than it is in the Republic of Ireland or the continental civil law jurisdictions, because the UK constitution has the supremacy of the parliament as its defining feature (sovereign rights of the individual are anathema to the constitutional order of the UK: individuals may have rights, but parliament (or the Crown-in-Parliament) is sovereign, not the people). So in the UK version of the civil law's administrative law, called "judicial review", the courts have limited power (though this has been increased through incorporating the ECHR into UK law - though the Human Rights Act 1998 also narrows the access to review on human rights grounds through their procedural rules): the propose of review is review, not appeal. The legality of laws cannot be questioned, even if they adversely effect the rights of the individual, if Parliament expressedly legislates so. The court can rule incompatability, but it cannot give remedy: it's up to the Parliament to change the law to make it more just.

    For me, depending on the whim of parliament; their goodwill to protect the rights of the individual, is a most unsatisfactory state.

    As for the free movement of workers, those cases have simtulated a debate on how far the EU should have a social dimention. Personally, I think it should have more of a social dimention: after all, the economy and its economic impact have social consequences. Legislation could help put workers on more of an equal footing and iron out differences which have a negative social impact. This is an area tht should definitely see more discussion, though my argument would be of course that the application of the freedom could be improved through legislation and there is no real argument for dismantling the single market.

    Libertas unfortunately raised many false issues about the Treaty of Lisbon, though the Commissioner issue was valid. The Referendum Commission, the Catholic Church, and many academic lawyers in Irish and non-Irish universities have slammed not just Libertas but many of the wider No campaign arguments as misleading and in some cases plain false. However, it would be a false argument to "blame" the No side for taking the stances they did as being the wrong stances, as it is important to have a wide ranging discussion. What is disappointing is that the opportunity was not taken to meet them on battlefield of ideas. The failure of debate was largely on the Yes side in this case.

    As for small government, the EU is a "small government" when you consider that it has the same amount of civil servants as a medium size town and caters for the regulatory needs of a single market of almost half a billion. Though that is not to say that I consider that small government in itself is necessarily a virtue. And the EU has some of the most strict privacy laws in the world. Where is it that you feel that your privacy and freedom is under attack?

    Should I take it from what you've written so far that you are against the single market?

  6. GW,

    Ask people to make a comparison of their rights under Magna Carta and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rigths. Then let them opt for one or the other.

    Were you specifically asked about your primary citizenship?

  7. First thank you for that reply Eurocentric, I shall try and absorb what you have said and get back.

    Grahnlaw, if I might be so presumptuous as to ask a couple of questions, and please bear in mind that you are dealing with a person with the IQ of a plank of wood, so keep the answers simple.

    A number of measures have been introduced in the UK, that I feel, infringe my rights as a free individual. I would like to know if these same things would be allowed, or are required, under the ECHR. These are:

    · The taking and storing of fingerprints when cleared of a crime
    · The taking, and holding on a database, of DNA when cleared of a crime and not charged with a crime
    · The holding without charge a person for, say, 42 days
    · The forcing of an individual to carry an Identity Card
    · The extradition of a person from his/her country of birth without any evidence of proof being presented (the European Arrest Warrant)
    · The holding of that person for as long as the arresting country wishes
    · The trial of a person without a jury
    · The trial of a person in their absence
    · Appeal by the prosecution against acquittal (double jeopardy)
    · The overruling of the British Public Prosecutor by a European Public Prosecutor

    These are items I have gleaned from a newsletter sent to anti-EU campaigners. The letter itself was sent to various speakers at a fringe meeting, The EU Fringe Liberty Meeting, and was sent by Idris Francis, whom I believe was once a member of the Magna Carta Society.

    Another item which caused some consternation amongst the Irish voters and so I think that Eurocentric will be interested.

    There was a big kerfuffle concerning the inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Freedoms into the Lisbon Treaty. I suspect that you know the particular pieces off by heart now but they intimated that there could be exceptions that allowed the lawful killing of citizens under certain circumstances. I feel that I have no need to include them here, as you will most probably be well aware of the particular sections.

    Was Ganley’s Libertas wrong about these sections of the Charter or was it just scaremongering.

    I know that you try to keep people informed through your blogs, even so I feel a little bit guilty for loading all of this onto you, but thanks in advance.

  8. Further to your reply, Eurocentric


    Thank you for your post. I agree that the rights to privacy and ‘personal integrity’ have been weakened since the people first came under this strange constitution of the UK. I have recently came to understand that this didn’t just occur under an authoritarian Labour party that was in power for the last few years, but that it has been going on for a century or so. There are a couple things that I would like to question though.

    You say that the Crown in Parliament is sovereign, I have always believed the people to be sovereign and that the Crown holds this sovereignty by the consent of the people. The people can get rid of Kings and Queens; they can also get rid of parliaments. Can’t they?

    I’m afraid that the Human Rights Act has turned out to be a criminal’s charter. But then expect for others what I myself would expect…

    I would agree with you on the free movement of workers but the consequences are that unscrupulous employers are forcing conditions and wages down. I’m afraid that I disagree with your remedy as well. The problem, every time seemingly, is that the EU produces the problem and then has to come up with a raft of laws to deal with it. No, I think that the present method of dealing with this is national. That means national unions taking on companies and fighting for local workers. I’m afraid that I’m a ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ man. If we were to follow the present ‘open door’ policy to the extreme cheap eastern Europeans would just price our people out of the job market.

    Your last point is totally wrong. This argument that the EU set up is equivalent to a small town just simply does not stand up. The EU just doesn’t consist of the MEPs and various European civil servants. Once laws come into existence they have to be interpreted into the countries that go to make up the EU. There have to be hundreds of people, assigned at a cost in terms of time and money, which have to pass on the legislation.

    I know from my own city that we now have Regional Development Agencies who are translating and passing on any nonsense thought up by the Committee of the Regions in the form of spatial strategies.

    Also, any business that sets up is now submerged under a deluge of EU red tape and that red tape has to be negotiated by another crowd of legal eagles. I’m often amused by the EU’s claim to be helping small businesses; I’m convinced that they ruin more than they help.

    Your last question is an intriguing one. Do I want a single market? I’m afraid that my belief lies in free trade. Now that description is a vague notion and I wouldn’t have a scientific or legal description of free trade. I think that I believe in bi-lateral trading – dealing on a country-to-country basis. I just don’t see the need for all of this meddling bureaucracy.

  9. I’ve tried to give each of your points as much consideration as I can, but these are still very simplistic answers, I’m afraid: I’m a bit pressed for time and have rushed this out. It’s spread over a few comments:

    The UK constitution reaches back to before the UK existed. Essentially the UK is a dynasty-state rather than a nation state in the true sense of the term. Of course, this is an over-simplification since the UK has acquired many nation-like characteristics over the centuries, but it has evolved from when the monarch was the absolute ruler and when there was no sense of a separation of powers (the parliament can still act as a court if it so wishes). The main struggle in English history has been between the monarch and the aristocracy (later in the form of parliament) for power – and the end result is that the parliament stole the power and sovereignty of the monarch, without changing the underlying constitutional logic very much. So the absolute power and sovereignty of the monarch is exercised by a larger body of people in the form of the Crown-in-Parliament (the 2 Houses and the Queen who gives royal assent).

    It can be seen in the Glorious Revolution, when the parliament illegally convened itself without royal consent, and ousted the legal monarch and invited another to take the throne. The legal class colluded in the coup by formulating the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty (since it’s a judge-made legal principle, it is interesting to think that judges could act to change the foundations of the constitution – though obviously this would be politically dangerous). That parliamentary sovereignty means that there is no concept of popular sovereignty (the idea that sovereignty springs from the people upwards) is shown by the attitudes of parliament to the Chartist movement in the 1840s (a working class democracy movement) – parliament will decide, parliament is sovereign and will not be swayed by the masses in making its sovereign decision.

    Even today the constitutional idea that power trickles down from, but is ultimately held by, the Crown-in-Parliament can be seen from the devolved assemblies. In the federalist model, sovereignty is vested in the people, and goes up, so the system is made up of states which delegate certain restricted powers upwards. In the UK (and Spain, though Spain is different in its ultimate constitutional make-up), the lower levels of government are devolved – power is on loan from the centre, and it can be removed when the centre wishes. The UK is a top-down state, whereas states such as Germany are bottom-up.

    The people in the UK constitutional system have never been sovereign. The idea of popular sovereignty is more recent (back to about the time of the American and French revolutions).

    Parliament can get rid of monarchs; the people can’t. People can elect the House of Commons, but there’s nothing in the constitutional theory of the UK to suggest that this need be so. If the Commons and the Lords passed an Act (and the monarch assented) ending elections and prolonging the term of parliament, that would be legal (all Acts of Parliament are part of the constitution – there’s no legal document or principle which can invalidate them). The Lords must assent, however, they cannot be bypassed under the Parliament Acts 1911 & 1949 on such matters.

    The Human Rights Act as a criminal charter is highly debatable. It is true that rights are sometimes applied in a way which seems to overly protect criminals, but I would say that, despite the very limited nature of the protection the Act provides from the state, a system of law which ensures the procedural fairness and protects the rights of the individual is essential, and at least it’s something. But then I tend to believe in the quote (was it Benjamin Franklin?): “Any society that gives up a little liberty for a little security will get neither, and deserves to lose both.” I’m a bit more flexible than that, but I do believe that human rights are a vital part of the system.

  10. As to small government. You are right that the low level of European officials is dependent on the state apparatus of the member states. However, all governments depend on the lower levels to implement the “orders from above”. In the UK, the local councils do a lot of work in this regard, and in Germany, its states do most of the work. Yet these countries have a far more bloated top level of government. When you factor this in, along with the constitutional requirement for the EU not to spend outside the budget allocated to it, it seems a dream of conservative small government. The state apparatus of the member states is swollen by their welfare state functions: the implementation and running of services by the state naturally inflates the civil service. In comparison, the effect on the legal job of transposing Community law is not nearly as drastic in terms of inflating the size and cost of the civil service. Once again, this is not to say that I value small government as a virtue in and of itself; there are many ideological debates around different areas and each option requires different levels of work/input by the state. There should be more debate and public input in deciding the options which are implemented based on their merit, of which small government may or may not be a consideration.

    On red tape and businesses. Businesses face one regime of red tape in the EU instead of the 27 different regimes they would have to face without the single market. It’s very theoretical to imply that they would face less regulation under purely national law – as always it varies from issue to issue, area to area. They would certainly face more legal challenges when expending abroad. However, the common market rules of operation provide great opportunities for businesses: they can avoid the costs of adapting to other legal regimes. For a growing business to have to change how it produces its products in order to expand into other markets is costly to move into one market; even more so if the surrounding markets are too small to in themselves provide enough economic viability to justify the cost. To adapt your business to the regimes of other countries you need money: if the legal rules are the same, or allow for different legal regimes of other member states to be recognised, then the costs go down, and it becomes more viable to grow your business in this way – small/medium businesses no longer have to wait until they are large businesses to expand across borders (and so take advantage of a large potential market). With other technological changes, such as the internet, meaning that it’s easier and cheaper to sell across borders, it would be a waste (and economically inefficient) if potential trade was blocked by bureaucratic rules.

    The single market also means that our businesses can benefit from having the same testing ground of a home market as the US. Investing in research and development also makes more economic sense when the product can be sold on a larger scale and with lower production costs that would arise under several regulatory regimes.

  11. The rest of your points I’ll take together, as they’re inter-related.

    Yes, my answer is more/better legislation at a European level to iron out inequalities. My answer to this is long-winded and convoluted, but here it is. If we ended the four freedoms and worked on a bilateral free trade agreement system:

    1. both fiscal barriers and non-fiscal barriers to trade would be raised, cutting down on trade. Since the EU currently has such agreements with third countries, I doubt that the loss in trade between European countries could be significantly (if at all) balanced out by trade agreements elsewhere.

    2. the (former) member states would lose a lot of their economic clout on the world stage as we would lack the large single market – access to which depended on complying with the common rules – and so we would lose a lot of bargaining weight. Countries with larger markets (USA, India, China [perhaps also the developing Union of South American Nations and ASEAN?]) will pressure us economically to accept their terms in order to gain/maintain the access of our businesses to their profitable markets.

    3. with the rise of other large markets, equipped with increasingly better educated workers and a large labour pool, we would be pressured into cutting costs in order to attract/maintain businesses within our smaller markets. Deregulation, welfare state cuts, wage reductions, etc. will be needed to remain competitive. Increased spending on research and development would be an option, but without economies of scale, it would be less effective.

    As the developing world catches up, we can no longer rely so heavily on technological advantage and market innovation, both of which are easier to maintain in the economies of scale viable in larger markets. Of course, you could be ideologically ok with such cuts, but they would be forced upon us by economic circumstances. Businesses elsewhere with stronger and larger “home bases” would have more to spend on entering foreign markets (us) than an equivalent proportion of our businesses could have (on the same scale).

    Simply put, globalisation has meant that the economy has out-grown the bounds of the traditional nation state (except for those nations that are very large), and nation states find it harder to deal with the economic currents. Protection of workers, and perhaps our developed welfare system, depend to a large degree on the health of our economies, which in turn need to be attractive places for investment and trade. We can still do this to a degree without the single market, but our policy options would be much reduced. In turn, this devalues the power of our electorate relative to that of the larger states. It may seem alarmist, but jobs are already going east – without a large and profitable shared market, we would be less attractive to business, and our businesses would find it harder to make it big internationally.

    Which is (a sketchy outline of) why I would say that improvement through good legislation is a better plan than giving up on the single market project.

    Of course, the UK could leave the EU for the EFTA. Though this is a halfway house which involves the implementation of some (not all) of the EU’s market regulation in return for accessing the single market, without being able to influence the decision-making process. I think this could be a viable enough position for the UK, since the EU has largely similar views as the UK and the UK could team up effectively with the EU in world trade talks if it wished. However, the UK would depend to a degree on the continuing operation of the single market: effectively, that others keep it running for the UK’s benefit.

  12. WG,

    I have to admit that your ten questions surpass my possibilities to dedicate time to a comment. Each one would require its own research and reasoned writing, and these questions are not part of my current work schedule.

    But, partly inspired by you, I posted a question amenable to a fairly simple answer: a comparison between the Magna Carta and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

    After comparing the texts, one can decide which document one would prefer to live under.

  13. Thank you both, Grahnlaw and Eurocentric. I shall not bother you again.