EU observers have criticised Ethiopia's election, as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held a victory rally attended by tens of thousands of people.Electoral fraud in Africa is nothing new; it was the "EU observers" that struck me as noteworthy. This wasn't a team of 'European' observers, representing their respective nations; it was an EU project, led by "EU mission chief" Thijs Berman.
Mr Berman praised the elections for being peaceful and well organised but said the EU had received numerous reports of harassment and intimidation which were "of concern".
However, the head of the 170-strong EU team said these shortcomings did not necessarily affect the overall outcome.
As a report from eubusiness.com explains,
The EU had deployed around 160 observers and the African Union 60.
Writing in June 2007, Daniel Hannan observed
The EU currently possesses many of the attributes and trappings of nationhood: a parliament, a supreme court, a passport, a currency, a national anthem, a flag, external borders. There are, though, four more pieces to slot into the jigsaw before the EU can properly call itself a sovereign polity.With the passage of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU now has a President: Herman Van Rompuy. It also has a High Representative, in charge of foreign policy: Baroness Ashton. It has ambassadors and embassies, responsible for "more than trade and aid".
First, a head of state. Second, a foreign policy, complete with a foreign minister, a diplomatic corps and accredited embassies. Third, a system of criminal justice, including a European Public Prosecutor and a police force. Fourth, the "legal personality" of an independent government, which confers treaty-making powers and the right to sit in international associations.
All these things are in the draft "Reform Treaty" – along with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the abolition of some 40 national vetoes, new powers for the European Parliament and a 30 per cent reduction in Britain’s ability to block new initiatives.
Article 69 E of the treaty provides for the post of European Public Prosecutor, with authority to combat "crimes affecting the financial interests of the Union" and other "serious crime having a cross-border dimension".
The EU is independently represented in various international organisations. A chap called Knud Erik Jørgensen has even produced a book with "eight case studies of the EU, including its role within the UN, WTO, NATO, and the ICC".
The EU today is far more than a Common Market. A referendum on our membership of this emerging superstate is long overdue.