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A Magna Carta for Europe?

June 16th, 2015

A conservative philosopher calls on European governments to make a pledge on the 800th anniversary of the famous Magna Carta, the first of a long series of documents limiting the power of rulers – a process  which ultimately led to what is known today as the rule of law.

On Mos Maiorum, Ferenc Hörcher suggests that European leaders should issue a European Magna Carta of self-restraint and subsidiarity. They should pledge

  • never to abuse their power,
  • not to further centralise political institutions without being explicitly mandated to do so by the electorate and their communities,
  • never to take over the competences of local communities and
  • never to use power, influence, legal techniques or social standing to appropriate the liberties of the citizens of Europe or their voluntary associations.

Hörcher believes that such a pledge could have a beneficial effect in today’s climate of genuine distrust and suspicion, when European institutions lack the necessary popular legitimacy. The ideals of limited government, self-restraint and subsidiarity are still far from being met by Europe’s institutional framework, he argues. By reaffirming them, Europe would also provide a legal means for local communities to challenge unfair efforts to centralise power in court. “Most of Europe would be grateful for a Magna Carta for Europe”, he concludes.