The Persian lawyer is a character of one of Pedro Cruz Villalón’s most admired articles, written in 1981, when today’s Advocate General was a young professor of constitutional law in Seville. In this piece, the Persian lawyer is a borrowed adaptation of Montesquieu’s Persian observers of XVIIIth century France, who happens to visit Spain in 1981 and tries to understand the complex territorial division of powers concocted by the 1978 Spanish Constitution. A very complex model indeed that the Persian lawyer has difficulty to understand and explain in his letters back home.
If the Persian lawyer happened to return to Spain in 2015, older but certainly wiser, he would realize that the Spanish Constitution is not really that important anymore, because a new kingdom under the name of the European Union is actually calling the shots. The Persian lawyer would be kindly invited to take a trip to Brussels and Luxembourg to actually understand what on earth is going on in a country like Spain, if he is ever to explain correctly to his fellow Persian lawyers the law of Spain and, for that matter, the law of that thing called the European Union.
Probably the Persian lawyer would be amazed by the state of commotion that the European Union is in, and how annoyed and disgruntled the leaders and the citizens of that Union appear when they speak on TV or when they write in the newspapers. The Persian lawyer would be fascinated by the importance of Institutions that nobody really voted for, although the European Union claims to be impeccably democratic. The Court of Justice and the European Central Bank would appear before the Persian lawyer like powerful Institutions with no democratic mandate that, nevertheless, are all-mighty in this odd place called the European Union.
The Persian lawyer would very much admire the ability of lawyers to be so influential, because his fellow Persian comrades would certainly never ever reach a tenth of the power and influence that European lawyers hold in the realm of the European Union.
But above all, the Persian lawyer would be amazed and scared by the state of crisis this European Union is in. A country called Greece is about to get kicked out of a strange club named the Eurozone, but nobody wants to kick him out really, and everybody makes a lot of noise but they all know that nobody will ever get kicked out of the club. For reasons that the Persian lawyer does not understand, a foreign monarch called Obama has told European leaders that Greece must be saved, and his opinion seems more important than any opinion of any European leader, including that of a German lady that everyone talks about but whose name the Persian lawyer keeps forgetting. At the same time, a country that is not in that Eurozone club, the United Kingdom, actually wants to leave the European Union altogether, or so its ruler claims. But this ruler also insists that he wants his country to carry on being a part of the European Union, so the Persian lawyer does not understand what the fuss is about.
The Persian lawyer would be so confused that he would probably ask a kind and learned European lawyer for some decent literature about the current state of the Union or a clever dissertation about its unclear future. If he happened to ask on the 22 of June of 2015, probably a document titled “Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union”, authored by The Five Presidents, would end up in his hands.
The text would explain where the European Union is now, particularly the Economic and Monetary Union, and where it should be heading to in the future.
At that point, dazzled and profoundly confused by the story being told in that document, but mostly after contrasting the story of that document with the things he had seen in his travels on the way from Madrid to Brussels, the Persian lawyer would then decide, convinced that he would never ever understand a single thing about this kingdom, that it is time to go home.
You can read the document here. But where would you, dear reader, go back home to?