Despite the shock and surprise with which many observers reacted to last month’s “Brexit” vote, the result of which begins the United Kingdom’s divorce from the European Union, the seeds of the breakup were long in the making – and entirely understandable. Notwithstanding efforts by some pro-EU proponents to paint the “Leave” camp as being filled with anti-immigrant racists, polls in the U.K. show that the primary motivation for “Leave” voters was concern over the loss of political, cultural, and economic identity that continued membership in the European Union was accelerating -- in a word, loss of sovereignty.
The document at the heart of the European Union’s structure is a multi-hundred page collection of mandates, regulations, and details that the 20th-Century American cartoonist Rube Goldberg would have loved for the convoluted manner in which it seeks to control virtually every facet of political, cultural and economic activity in every part of every nation that signed it. This is the infamous “Treaty of Lisbon,” adopted as the effective Constitution of the EU in 2009. It is at the heart of the Brexit vote. It is a document that every true student and supporter of the Constitution of the United States knows represents the antithesis of individual liberty.
The U.S. Constitution is a short document that provides a framework for the governance of a people to meet changing circumstance and conditions while preserving fundamental liberty; it is unique and has lasted for two-and-a-quarter centuries for that very reason. The Treaty of Lisbon, just six-and-a-half years young, on the other hand, is a massive compendium of rules and edicts cobbled together by a committee of bureaucrats with the goal of prescribing how the individuals and their governing bodies must behave, and regardless of changing circumstances or individual choice.
Small wonder a majority of the voters in Britain – which nation’s formative charters included the Magna Carta that inspired our own Founding Fathers – never quite took to being told by a bunch of bureaucrats in Brussels that British laws, customs and culture were inferior to their collectivist mindset.
Those who drafted and voted on the U.S. Constitution understood that fundamental liberty is based on such universal and timeless principles as “due process” and “equal protection of the law” for all. Those and other fundamental, pre-existing rights were therefore guaranteed in the document as against government limitation. The drafters of the Treaty of Lisbon, clearly failing to understand that the best government is “limited government,” took the opposite approach; crafting a governing document that dictates, among hundreds of other requirements, that:
- Citizens must extend regard to the “welfare . . . of animals,” since animals are “sentinent beings”
- “Occupational hygiene” is to be fostered
- “Equal pay” is to be afforded for “equal work” of “equal value”
- It is desirable to make it “easier for the underrepresented sex [not defined] to pursue vocational activity . . . to compensate for disadvantage in professional careers”
- A “European Social Fund,” among other things, fosters and “facilitate[s] adaptation to industrial changes and to changes in production systems . . . through vocational training and retraining”
- Member states must “contribute to the promotion of European sporting issues . . . by protecting the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and sportswomen, especially the youngest sportsmen and sportswomen”
- Members must “contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States” and especially “the knowledge and dissemination of the culture and history of the European peoples”
- “Obviating sources of danger to the physical and mental health” is required
The massive bureaucracies the EU has maintained to implement, monitor, and enforce the thousands of mandates such as those few noted above, keeps tens of thousands of bureaucrats busy and well-paid through levies on the U.K. and the other 27 members of the Union.
The charge to these bureaucrats is mind-numbing. For example, in order to effectuate the “Social Policy” that is the core of the Treaty’s effort to communalize culture and politics across the Union, its regulators are authorized to: “[promote] employment, improved living and working conditions, so as to make possible their harmonization while the improvement is being maintained, proper social protection, dialogue between management and labour, the development of human resources with a view to lasting high employment and the combating of exclusion.” Gobbledygook taken to a new level.