Tonight I am giving a speech to the Iona Institute in Dublin about how Christians should interact with the European Union. Some people see the European Union as secularist and unsympathetic to religion. They are mistaken in this belief. In fact the latest EU Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty specifically commits the Union to a dialogue with the churches. A full copy of the speech is separately posted on the website.
I was disappointed to read in today’s papers that President Obama said did not want the Copenhagen summit on climate change to produce a legally binding Treaty. This is because a Treaty can only be ratified by the United States with a majority of 66 out of 100 Senators, and the President does not think he can get 66 Senators to agree.
He may be right in this calculation, but is it reasonable that the world should be prevented from having a Treaty on this subject because of a provision in the constitution of one country, which was drafted in the eighteenth century when there was less need for international Treaties because there was much less globalisation?
Most other countries allow themselves to ratify international treaties by a simple 51/49 margin.
The same 66/33 requirement explains why the United States, which proposed the setting up of the League of Nations in 1919, could not join it itself in the end, because it could not get 66 of 100 Senators to agree. The world might have had a different and better history if the US had joined the League of Nations.
This aspect of the United States constitution should be changed. As long as it continues it is going to be a big obstacle to making the sort of Treaties the world will need if we are to govern an increasingly globalised and interdependent world, not just on climate change , but on all the other problems are not stopped by international borders.