Monday, 5 December 2005

Ramming through the EU Constitution

The new German Government has signalled that it will do “whatever is necessary” to resurrect the EU Constitution. The programme for government signed by the new governing “grand coalition” of the Social Democrats(SPD) and the Conservatives (CDU) states: “We stand for the European constitutional treaty. We pledge to continue the ratification of the European constitutional treaty after the first half of 2006 and to give new impulses to the ratification under the German presidency in the first half of 2007″.

So sod off you French and Dutch voters. Do not think for a moment that you are going to stop the Eurocrats. You must learn to enjoy democracy EU-style!

In a speech to the European Parliament new German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised her personal commitment to the rejected EU Constitution. “Europe needs the EU Constitution,” she said. “The German government is willing to make our contribution to whatever is necessary to see the Constitution come into force. The pause for reflection is not an excuse to set aside the Constitution.”

The foreign policy of Germany’s new Government is expected to continue in the same track as the previous Schröder administration, pushing further EU integration and close ties with France. The new German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was one of Schröder’s closest advisers. Merkel’s personal foreign affairs adviser, Dr Christoph Heusgen, was previously adviser to EU foreign policy Commissioner Javier Solana in Brussels for six years. Heusgen has proposed that a way to bypass the French and Dutch No votes of last summer would be to simply implement all the parts of the EU Constitution which do not rely on ratification.

The EU has already begun this process, setting up institutions which were proposed in the Constitution, such as the European Defence Agency and the European Space Agency through inter-governmental agreements.

The French Government is particularly in favour of this approach because it would be extremely difficult for it to bring back exactly the same Constitution for a second referendum. The French Defence Minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, said in Le Monde last week, “Do we still need a text when we have political will? I don’t think so.”

The new German government’s desire to push through the EU Constitution is shared by a majority of EU leaders. A Commission official was quoted in the London Daily Telegraph on 20 November arguing, “Some people might argue that the Constitution is dead. But it is still on the table. The only thing that has been decided is that there will be a period of reflection.”

Ireland’s Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said in the Irish Times on 31 October that the Irish Government “believe that the Constitution offers the best available way forward for the EU. The best option, therefore, is to keep the Constitution intact, and to review its prospects once the current period of reflection has come to a close.” What matter if the French and Dutch peoples voted No. Irish voters voted No to the Nice Treaty and that result was overturned. Ahern is confident that the same can be done in France and Holland.

Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said recently: “In my opinion, this is a good treaty, a good compromise, and any new text would only be worse. In the first half of next year, under Austria’s EU presidency, political leaders should discuss the matter and find a way to ratify the European document.”

Two members of the European Parliament, Andrew Duff and Johannes Voggenhuber have prepared a report outlining a detailed timetable leading to the adoption of a new version of the Constitution. They suggest revising the Constitution to make it more “social” and ratifying the new text by the end of 2009.

Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek has said that “too much energy and good will has been invested in the EU Constitution to simply abandon the project”.

And so on and so on. Do not think for a moment that the EU elites will be stopped in their power-mania by a couple of demcratic votes. Brussels makes the rules and the job of ordinary citizens everywhere is to obey!

By Anthony Coughlan