A Balanced EU Constitution

EU Commission President Romano Prodi has proposed a scheme to strengthen the Union's executive. Britain, France, and Spain are working on an opposing plan that will consolidate EU executive powers among the biggest EU states. What's the ordinary European to think?

Europe's citizens scarcely grasp the issues at the heart of the European Constitutional Convention in Brussels. Mountains of detail obscure problems; sterile, misleading national discussions that pit "Euroskeptics" against "Europhiles" muster sound and fury but clarify nothing. So complicated do many issues seem that some newspapers and broadcasters have abandoned reporting about the Convention.

EU citizens can secure a clearer understanding of what the Convention should achieve by asking this question: how should governmental functions be divided between the EU and its member nations? To answer this, we need to grasp government's true purpose.

Government should provide citizens with public goods: collective defense, legislation and regulation, enforcement of the rule of law. These can be provided at different levels: local, regional, national, or supranational government, i.e., the EU. But what is the right level?