Friday, 27 August 2004

'No' vote would not scupper EU constitution

Britain’s incoming commissioner Peter Mandelson has said that a vote against the European Constitution would not mean that the whole project would fail.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Mandelson said that if UK or French voters rejected the Constitution it would spark a “major crisis”.

However, he went on to say: “I don’t think it will be insoluble. What it will mean is, we will have to go back, look at the reasons for the rejection, understand why the treaty has not been embraced by the public and address those concerns.”

“It doesn’t mean abandoning the project”, said the trade commissioner designate.

Attacked by the domestic opposition

He was immediately attacked by members of the opposition Conservative Party.

Michael Ancram, opposition foreign affairs spokesman, said this showed Mr Mandelson “has wasted no time in returning to his traditional contempt for the democratic views of the British people”.

“If as we expect there is a ‘no’ vote in the referendum, he must accept that that is the end of this wretched and dangerous constitution,” said Mr Ancram said in a statement.

Ratification of the Constitution is one of the big issues facing the Union. Several member states, including France, the UK, Spain and the Netherlands, have committed themselves to asking their citizens’ opinion on the Treaty.

If one or more member states were to say no, it would be a huge political set back for the recently enlarged 25-member state block.

As for the Constitution itself, it suggests that, if two years after the Treaty is signed, four fifths of member states have ratified the text and one or more have not, then EU leaders have to then decide what steps to take.

By Honor Mahony

This article first appeared on