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Is the Market Doomed in Giscard's New Europe?

The endgame to determine the European Union's final shape is underway. It began with the publication by the Praesidium of the Convention on the Future of Europe of a draft of the first sixteen articles of the "Treaty to establish a Constitution for Europe." The text mostly replicates the structure of Convention Chairman Valery Giscard d'Estaing's "skeleton" Constitution, presented last November, and the conclusions reached by the Convention's working groups. The key word here is mostly .

Such fidelity did not hold for economics. Where markets and business are concerned, the draft text stretches the "economic governance" working group's conclusions so as to propose a centralized approach, one strongly tilted to favor social, environmental, and consumer objectives, neglecting economic freedom and the market economy.

Let's start with the sins of omission. The "values" of the Union (Article 2) include peace, justice, equality of all before the law and solidarity. All fine and noble sentiments. But no mention is made of freedom of initiative and enterprise.

Similarly, the "fundamental objectives" of the Union (Article 3) indulge in promises to promote "sustainable" growth, social cohesion and social protection, gender equality, the environment, and consumer protection. The need for a free and well-functioning market economy is not included, though this is the fundamental pre-condition for the high standards of living and social protection that the document's authors advocate so resolutely.