by David Heilbron PRICE
On 2 August 2006, on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government and the political and civil authorities of the country signed a declaration called the Universal of National Unity. It confirms the 'permanence and irreversibility of the foreign policy course of the Ukraine aimed at integration into the European Union'. A vast programme of political and legal reform is also accepted by all parties.
For the European Union, Ukraine's confirmation of a common destiny with EU's nearly half billion citizens, joined together under the principles of democracy (sustained by five supranational institutions) and the European rule of law has great advantages. At the turn of 2006, the EU had an unpleasant experience of what the lack of European rule of law means in its most vulnerable sector: gas and the energy sector. Petroleum prices have reached new highs. Europeans not only need to ensure a constant supply and security of energy, they also need to implement with urgency an effective strategy to cut their energy use and raise efficiency in the face of a disastrous planetary climate change.
Full membership with the implementation of all the present laws (the acquis communautaire) and underlying conditions could take many years of negotiation. Is this the only way to proceed? How can such EU membership be accelerated?
The following outlines how in Ukraine the conditions of democracy and the rule of law can best be prepared for full membership while helping the EU to tackle its most serious problems.
The most effective way to accelerate the build-up of the rule of law, suppress corruption, assure financial stabilization and encourage economic growth as a forerunner for EU membership is to apply the Schuman method as soon as possible but only in a limited sector. The whole acquis communautaire does not have to be acquired as a precondition. The initiative would act as a booster to European integration that is Ukraine’s ‘irreversible and permanent course.’
2. Advantages for the EU:
This would provide a fillip for the EU economy and increase its energy security, a source of major worry. It would encourage improved relations with Russia.
Creation and signature of a treaty between Ukraine and the whole EU based on the supranational principle (as pioneered in the EU’s first Community). The treaty would initiate supranational institutions between EU and Ukraine. This would include a common Court of Justice and four democratic safeguard institutions : (legally required assemblies for Opinions of government ministers, civil society and a Parliament elected by citizens, these three give legal reactions to proposals from an impartial Commission). They would act only in a very clearly delimited economic sector. No other laws would be affected.
The energy sector is the most obvious one because the present EU treaties lack legal competence in energy strategy and policy. It could cover gas only or include other energy sources such as coal (where new technologies are becoming available), oil and electricity grids (where peak times vary across the Continent). Note that the European Coal and Steel Community treaty of 1952 expired in 2002 and has not been renewed. However, there is general consensus now in the EU that an energy policy needs to be built urgently. An energy treaty, therefore, could provide the most effective link to the EU. For the EU it would have great economic benefits. For Ukraine it would be a guarantee of goodwill and means to accelerate eventual EU membership to which the country is committed.
A treaty would not reduce essential national sovereignty but rather increases it. It coordinates mutually beneficial national interests under the rule of supranational law. The European experience is quite different from the North American federal experience in the USA or Canada. The supranational experience has had a hugely positive effect on all member countries. For Greece, Portugal and Spain which all suffered from dictatorships, injustice, massive inflation, poor growth, unstable currencies, low investment and poverty, lawful sovereign power has thus increased immeasurably. Member States of the original Six are now experiencing the longest period of sustained peace in two thousand years of history. They now enjoy their greatest prosperity ever.
The major condition for the application of the Schuman method is a guarantee for supranational justice in the area of human rights. As Ukraine is a democratic member of the Council of Europe and reaffirms its national submission to the judgements of Strasbourg this condition of is fulfilled.
Robert Schuman, the founder and initiator of the EU, foresaw the creation of a Community that would gather together all the countries of Europe, including Ukraine.
© Bron 14092006
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