August 29, 2006
Since 2005, there have been rumours (and only rumours thus far) regarding the creation of a "North American Union," based upon the structure of the European Union. I'm not an American citizen, nor am I even a native of North America , still I first heard of these rumours on the American libertarian radio talk show called Free Talk Live.
Now what are to be made of these rumours? Should they be believed? Is the creation of a North American Union imminent?
One could dismiss this thing as a mere conspiracy theory. A plan that was concocted by a paranoid geek in his parents' basement. However, in this article I desire to warn Canadian, American and Mexican citizens what may be in store for them, if a North American Union is ever created.
If this "North American Union" is to mimic the nature of the European Union, then there are a number of aspects to be wary of. These include:
1 - Sovereignty
The European Union is based upon the concepts of supranationalism and intergovernmentalism. These terms mean that member states "pool" their sovereignty in the name of cooperation. If the North American Union is based upon the same principles, then Canada , the United States and Mexico would be forced to surrender some of their self-government for the "greater good." These countries' status as nation-states would clearly be undermined. Why is this a negative thing? Well, the aforementioned countries would lose the power to govern their own affairs. The leadership of the North American Union may not have the interests of any specific member state at heart. Why is there even a need for a federal government in Washington DC , when decisions affecting American citizens are made at a higher level?
As libertarians, we should be aware that a loss of governmental sovereignty could also undermine one's individual sovereignty. The power to have control over your own life, liberty and property is under threat if decisions affecting your life are made at a higher level than Congress or the White House. Clearly, such a state of affairs is reprehensible and wholly unacceptable.
The British "Factortame case" is a classic example of the erosion of national sovereignty. The online encyclopaedia Wikipedia states that:
"The case first came to prominence when a Spanish fishing company called Factortame appealed in the UK courts against restrictions imposed on them by the UK government under the Merchant Shipping Act 1988. A section of the Act prevented companies using foreign ships registered as British vessels from fishing in UK waters. Factortame's argument was that they were permitted to fish under the law of the European Economic Community (which became the EU in 1992). The case reached the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, which obtained an injunction from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to temporarily suspend the Secretary of State for Transport from enforcing the particular part of the Act. However, on 22 March 1989, this was overturned by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales on the basis that the constitution did not give any court the right to suspend Acts of Parliament, and this was confirmed by the House of Lords, the highest court in the UK.
The House of Lords ruling that they did not have the power to suspend Acts of Parliament was then referred to the European Court of Justice by the House of Lords in 1990, as was legally required. The ECJ in June 1990 ruled that national courts could strike down laws which contravened EU law. Consequently, the House of Lords ruled in favour of Factortame, meaning that in effect the Merchant Fishing Act 1988 was struck down.
This appears to be a breach of Parliamentary sovereignty, which holds that Parliament is the supreme law making body and no-one can override its legislation. Factortame is an example of law courts not acting by the law created by Parliament. Effectively, the House of Lords have been given the power to strike down Acts of Parliament which contravene EU law."
2 - Regulations
The European Union consistently creates regulations that continue to burden businesses. In 2003, the EU produced 3,418 regulations, directives and decisions upon its member states. The amount of such bureaucracy has grown continually since the foundation of the European Economic Community (the precursor to the European Union).
Council Directive 2005/47/EU makes provisions for safe working conditions on railways. Imagine if you were a railway operator in one of the 25 current EU member states. You would have to contribute extra funding to meet this regulation. Such money could be better spent by reinvesting in your business or paying employees’ a larger salary. Instead, bureaucrats in Brussels are determining how best you run your business.
3 – Big Government
Very few aspects of EU legislation lead to the actual reduction of state power, scope or size. Given the socialist nature of European political climate, this shouldn’t be of any real surprise. Even today, many EU nations possess regulated economies that stifle economic growth and deter entrepreneurship. French “dirigisme” and the German “social market model” are notable examples of such capitalistic forms (and the word “capitalistic” must be used loosely in this instance).
Directive 2002/22/EC outlined plans for the regulation of telecommunications markets. EU member states, in accordance with this Directive, would have to implement regulatory bodies to protect the rights of consumers. Clearly, Europeans need to be more schooled in the concept of a free market. Competition amongst differing telecommunications providers would lower prices and enhance services. If one examines the computer industry, you would find that it remains relatively unregulated. Prices for PC’s have fallen over time. Competition naturally leads to lower prices and greater purchasing power for the consumer.
North American Co-operative Security Act
In 2006, President Bush signed the North American Co-operative Security Bill into law. This Act followed previous negotiations between the US President, the Canadian Prime Minister and the Mexican President in 2005. The Act grants the US Secretary of State powers in “enhanced security management, communication, and coordination among the United States , Canada , and Mexico .”
One might ask, “from whom is there a need for greater security”? If this Act was proposed and signed to safeguard the United States from immigrants, then I don’t believe such legislation was necessary. Immigrants from other parts of the Americas are only seeking to enhance their standard of living and their quality of life. Wasn’t America meant to be a “beacon of liberty” to the world? In that the USA should be the global benchmark to the entire world in reference to the existence of a free society? Throughout US history, tens of millions of immigrants arrived at US shores seeking the same dream.
The European Union was founded to aid in averting another European war, akin to WWI or WWII. It was felt that if countries were economically interdependent, then the likelihood of armed conflict would diminish and cease. The United States has never engaged in war with a sovereign Canada (if we are accounting for the War of 1812) and has not been at war with Mexico since the mid-19th Century. As libertarians, we all know that the Founding Fathers explicitly sought to avoid interference in other states’ affairs, or alliances that proved to ensnare the US into foreign conflicts.
As Thomas Jefferson said:
“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.”
Even in the late 18th Century, Jefferson was wise enough to realise the potentially negative consequences that can arise from close alliances with other nation-states. A free America is, ultimately, a non-aligned one.
A “North American Union” based upon the European Union would be a disaster for the United States, Canada and Mexico, certainly in relation to the continual pressures of big government that present themselves from supranational agreements. The aforementioned countries would possess freedom and liberty by remaining as sovereign nations, freely and willingly seeking to co-exist with their neighbours. Government always grows. This fact is so axiomatic that it’s almost an iron law. There is no guarantee that the North American Cooperative Security Act would, or could, remain in its current limited form .