That begs the questions, will the Euro by its very nature force greater political integration? At the moment for example we have countries that have a shared currency that are following very different foreign policies – that has an economic impact on the currency. You only have to look at the market’s reaction to the terrible events in Madrid.
Well it's a powerful instrument, by powerful I mean that all countries now have a currency, a single currency – it stands as a very powerful metaphor for a Federal Europe. There are still strong particular national traditions and that's probably a good thing. We haven't yet aligned, nor should we expect to have done, we haven't yet aligned National aspirations and culture and traditions with a simpler version of identity as Europeans. It's taken America 100-150 years to do that. Why should we expect to do it in 15?
But there will be a conversion there in terms of politics, and the European Constitution will be very important in terms of helping that process of identity building. I would have one grave concern with that. The history of Europe is basically a history of the Judeo-Christian culture which has been enriched through pluralism, in some countries through significant minority of Islamic people. Somehow or other we have to have a consitution that reflects that, and I think the idea of leaving God out of the European constitution was a fundamental mistake. It was an act of political correctness that does not in any way resonate with either the feelings of ordinary Europeans or with the development of Europe of which this was supposed to be a new stage.
But how would it be possible to include God in the constitution, without offending somebody?
It's very simple, it's putting a clause into a constitution which formally acknowledges what many countires have already included in their national constitutions, that is that European History has been shaped by this Judeo-Christian culture – that is what makes us distinct and different. There were a number of drafts, from a number of countries (including Italy) to insert the importance of God in both an ethical, cultural and religious domain within the Consitution. My own view is that Giscard D'Estaing and the French
scuppered it. For politically correct reasons, they turned their backs on something that has a very powerful resonance certainly across Italy, Spain, Ireland and many other countries. I think it was a missed opportunity, because had they done something it would have certainly facilitated this process of political integration. This empathy with the European ideal.
But going back to the question in relation to for example Spain and Ireland. Spain has a foreign policy that up until now has taken a markedly different approach to the so called “War on Terrorism” and Iraq, yet Ireland is directly linked economically and in some senses through the European ideal, morally. What about our neutrality in this European ideal?
I think that's a fair point. We've only come along part of the journey- one of the other elements apart from the overriding importance of God as a unifying factor within the European Constitution is the idea of neutrality, along with a form of common defense that addresses the totality of what Europe is beginning to mean to all of the member countries.
My own view is that Irish neutrality has served the United Nations very well. We have maintained that Neutrality notwithstanding having a close relationship with Britain, particularly through Northern Ireland where there was, and to some extent is, a residual political problem. I would be happier myself to have Ireland abstain from giving any legitimacy to the war in Iraq – in fact I have a particular regard for the French Foreign Minister who, I think, spelt out a very eloquent and, as it turned out, very informed foreign policy.
I think Europe needs three things. It needs a Constitution. On a financial point, it needs a single regulatory authority, and on the defence front, which is part of the Maastricht treaty, it needs a structure that allows Europe to address in its own particular way the strains that there are in both member countries and in particular as part of the global economy. Terrorism is a worldwide problem but you will not solve that problem by privatising International Law, by overriding the United Nations, by second guessing what experts are doing there. What that does is to undermine trust in Government. The degree of trust that one would have now in the United States, I regret to say, is very low, in terms of their action and overriding Kofi Annan, and overriding the reservations that Europe had, and in effect privatizing International Law.
Europe needs to get away from that kind of strain, and develop its own coherent foreign policy, probably with a substantive defence force, embracing all of the member countries, complimentary to N.A.T.O., but which doesn't impose strains within Europe. Simply because America is a superpower with its own paritcular foreign policy objectives doesn't mean these should be imposed upon Europe. I don't think you can buy countries off to achieve your own foreign policy objectives. As has been done in Turkey. I don't think you can bend International Law as it's being done in Guantanamo bay. I don't think you can privatize International Law without any regard for the institutions which were after all put in place by all countries after the second world war precisely to avoid these kinds of situations.