The status of a new European Union constitution, the angst over France’s perceived reluctance to ratify it and the ramifications for its adoption on relations with the United States will be discussed in the final installment of Lawrence University’s international studies lecture series “U.S. and European Security: Challenges and Choices.”
John Huber, a 1984 Lawrence graduate, professor of political science at Columbia University and faculty fellow at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, the research arm of the social sciences at Columbia, presents “France, the European Constitution and its Implications for the Transatlantic Alliance” Monday, May 9 at 7 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102 on the Lawrence campus. The event is free and open to the public.
On May 29, France will hold a nation-wide referendum on the new European Union constitution (treaty), which all member countries must ratify for it to take effect. There is growing concern that France will not ratify the constitution because its citizens are against it, leading some experts to predict dire consequences if that happens, including those who argue France’s rejection could lead to the demise of the EU itself.
Huber will provide an overview of the key elements of the constitution, explain why it appears the French will reject the constitution when they have been such a driving force in creating it and discuss whether it will even matter if they do vote “no.”
In his address, Huber will argue that it is in the best interest of the French to adopt the EU constitution. Based on public opinion data, Huber says the French have a great deal of confidence in the EU, in fact they trust it more than their own government and are not worried it will diminish national autonomy or threaten French national identity. The concerns, according to Huber, are related to issues of unemployment, globalization and the fear that a new EU constitution will enable jobs to leave France for low-wage countries within the EU.
As for relations with the United States, Huber believes uncertainty in institution-building within the EU will further erode U.S.-EU relations. As it moves to address the concerns of its own citizens, the EU will become more protectionist, placing additional strain on EU-U.S. trade relations. Without a new constitution, the EU will have a difficult time forging common foreign and defense policies, which will make it easier for the United States to adopt foreign policy decisions that divide the member states of the EU and lead to increased contempt of many citizens in Europe towards the United States.
Huber is co-author of the book “Deliberate Discretion? Institutional Foundations of Bureaucratic Autonomy,” which develops a comparative theory of delegation in advanced democracies and wrote 1996’s “Rationalizing Parliament: Legislative Institutions and Party Politics in France,” which received honorable mention honors for the Gregory Luebbert Prize, which is awarded for the best book in comparative politics.
His writing also has been recognized with the Heinz Eulau Award by the American Political Science Association for his article “Restrictive Legislative Procedures in France and the U.S.” and the Georges Lavau Prize from the French Politics and Society Group of the APSA, which honors the best dissertation on French politics. Among his current research interests are individual turnover among cabinet ministers in parliamentary democracies and the impact of legal structure on policy-making venues.
Huber joined the Columbia political science department in 1998 and spent the 2002-03 academic year as a senior visiting research fellow at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Democratic Politics. He also taught at the University of Michigan for six years and spent the 1991-92 academic year in the political science department at Ohio State University.
The “U.S. and European Security: Challenges and Choices” lecture series is sponsored by the Mojmir Povolny Lectureship in International Studies. Named in honor of long-time Lawrence government professor Mojmir Povolny, the lectureship promotes interest and discussion on issues of moral significance and ethical dimensions.