14 February 2009


Not every state's constitution has a preamble in the beginning. Nothing urges Europe to have any preamble in its federal constitution, but the two greatest patterns for the European federal constitution, the constitution of the United States of America and the constitution of Switzerland, begin with a preamble. A preamble is a solemn introductory statement bringing general ideas of the following text and circumstances of its origin. The preamble of the constitution can be useful in that it clarifies the sense and the objective of the provisions done in the constitution. In other words, the concrete provisions should be seen as an implementation of the preamble and the preamble can thus convey the spirit of the constitution.

So what should the preamble of the European federal constitution involve? Three things in my opinion: why the constitution is given (reasons for the federal arrangement of Europe), who gives the constitution and what its provisions should provide.

Why the constitution is given – these should be reasons why a federation in Europe. In fact, it should be something like a history lesson. So: suggestions for a unification of Europe have been presented for centuries already and they have had many in common – they called for peace in Europe, for the securing of human rights, for the creation of uniform economic area as a means of welfare, against fall of Europe's importance in the world, against supremacy of a foreign power in Europe. These issues should be reflected in the preamble of the federal constitution because all of them had their not small importance in Europe's history. The entire history of Europe is filled by smaller or (in the course of time) grater wars and these armed conflicts were largely the main cause of suggestions how to prevent them by unification of European states. But Europeans did not want hear out the suggestions until they came to two-staged civil war (usually entitled as world wars) which extensively devastated Europe. And also another prediction took place then – Europe was divided and subjected to alien powers (the Soviet union and the United states of America). The power of Europe and its influence in the world was past (in fact, has been, few has changed to now). The division of Europe into separate hostile states led also to the rise of totalitarian and undemocratic, mostly aggressive state regimes, especially in armistice time of the European civil war. Those regimes not only unleashed wars with other states but also demolished lives of their own citizens, committed crimes reminded up to this day that could not be prevented by divided Europe and quarrelled with each other. Next, the hostile division of Europe led not only to a two-phase great war but due to it also to a great demolition of material goods, to a damage of many artistic works and historical relics, to a demolition of industrial capabilities and a fall of the people living standard. Europe even needed an external economic aid to survive (the Marshall plan). So a declaration should be present in the Preamble that Europeans are aware of prior division and of its adverse consequences together with a manifestation of a will to disallow a repetition of history – political and economic.

Who will give the constitution – it will be written by only few, three or four, words in it, in spite of that it can cause a controversy. Should the first words of the constitution sound “we, the people of Europe” or “we, the peoples of Europe” or “we, the states or Europe” or “we, the people and the states of Europe”? Though it can be seen as irrelevant, in fact, it has its importance. The question who brought the European federal constitution and who built up the federal authorities is not unimportant for future legal disputes about the power of the federal bodies (indeed, supreme courts of some states adjudged in some cases according to the constitution preambles). In the case it will be a controversy about an extent of the federal bodies competencies towards the states' competencies, the provision that the people of Europe was who has given itself the federal constitution will have a crucial importance for the federal constitutional institutions – the competencies of the federal bodies are derived from the federal constitution given by the people, not from the power of the member states, so the member states will not be able to restrict or to change the power of the federation. The rise of the federation is due to the will of the European people, not due to the states – it can be claimed if the constitution contain the words “we, the people of Europe”. “We, the states of Europe” is a declaration quite contrary to an intent to establish a strong federation. It suffices to observe how the power of states causes a weak position of the present EU. What about “we, the peoples of Europe”? Thus similar it is written in the preamble of in a comment to my first article in this blog mentioned draft of the European federal constitution (“We, the peoples of the European Union”). But this declaration is in an ideological conflict with a concept of a federal union. If one European federal state should be established, all European peoples act in that case as one people, for the federal state all are its one people. The peoples – that sounds as if the peoples (die Nazionen) only gathered together but not united itself, like in the present EU. Nobody says the diversity of European peoples has to be erased, but an union of Europe cannot be based on the peoples but the people. “We, the peoples establish the Union” is something insane like “we, the citizens of villages and towns establish the state of …” If we look in the constitution of the United states of America, we find there bright “we the people of the United states of America”. On the other hand, after opening the federal constitution of Switzerland, you can read “Das Schweizervolk und die Kantone” (“the Swiss people and the states”). Somebody can hold it suitable to imitate in the whole Europe (“we the European people and (our) states”) but despite of that it is already written in some constitution (of Switzerland) I do not consider it suitable. The words about the states can be seen as a useful measure for a guarantee the (present) states will not be destroyed by the federation. But such fears are quite needless, the federation cannot destroy the existence of its member states, it depends only on their peoples and it is even contradictory to the principles of federalism. The states may be (beside the people) mentioned in the Swiss constitution but Switzerland is something else than the whole Europe; because in Europe the states were the main cause of wars and inhuman crimes, it is not proper to name the states in European federal constitution. - although the federation should not destroy the states, it should struggle to overcome division of Europe in states.

What the constitution should provide result from the first: why constitution is given. So the things are providing peace and democracy, safeguarding the independence of Europe, setting Europe again an example for the world, promoting the common welfare, preserving cultural and national diversity. These are the general objectives, the other ones which can be conceived are involved in the previous ones such as a struggle for intact environment (common welfare). In my opinion, the one more thing should be mentioned in the preamble – perpetuity of the union. The union will provide neither peace nor democracy nor the common welfare nor the other named matters if it could disintegrate any time. But I will comment more this thing in other place later in an article dedicated to general provisions.

Yet another thing I can refer to – a religion. Almost everyone knows the European Convention disputed about that the Christianity heritage should be mentioned in the preamble of a (so called) European constitution. But what for? Today, the Christianity is a private thing of every person and none and nothing will take it out from it, the European federal constitution being no exception. It may be admitted that the God appears in the Swiss constitution in the words “im Namen Gottes des Allmächtigen!” (“in the name of Almighty God!”). So, the Swiss people is strongly religious. But so do (and always did) the people of the United states of America and look at the preamble of their constitution – the religion is absolutely absent. While the Americans was already at that time religious we must suppose that the absenting religion in the constitution's preamble is an expression of a fact the religion cannot be commingled with politics. And we in Europe should do the same.

I should summarize in the end, so I express my notion about a shape of the preamble. Here it is:

We, the people of Europe,

conscious of prior division and dissensions sequent on it;
conscious of prior tyrannies which brought about the worst suffering and destruction in history;
striving therefore for a permanent union
that will ensure peace, democracy, mutual solidarity,
that will ensure liberty for its people,
that will promote the common welfare through social justice,
that will preserve its diversity,
that will preserve natural environment,

adopt this Constitution of the European Union.