A day of reckoning was inevitable for the European Union. The debacle of the European constitution has brought to a boil a crisis that was long-simmering and unavoidable.
The president of the EU, Romano Prodi, accurately described the constitution as a "change of centuries" from "the basic concept of the nation state." Instead of being an organization to administer inter-governmental treaties, the EU was to become a sovereign entity, legitimized by the European Parliament and an upper house consisting of the new European Council of Ministers. There would be an EU foreign minister, and the EU would have considerable leeway in implementing agreed foreign policy and requiring member states to avoid acting against the central interpretation of that agreed policy. Indeed, the European Commission effectively would have been able to decide the extent of its own powers; the "Flexibility Clause" in the proposed constitution would have allowed the Commission to extend its powers over member states in any new area not explicitly covered by the constitution. (This is the exact opposite of the Residual Powers clause of the U.S. Constitution, which leaves all unallocated powers with the states and the people.) Meanwhile, the EU Court of Justice would be empowered to strike down any national legislation that it interpreted as contrary to the socialistic European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Finally, the Union would also play an imprecise "coordinating role" in economic, employment, and defense and security policies.