Thursday, 27 July 2006

EU constitution through the backdoor

There was no agreement at the mid-June EU summit EU summit on how to revive the EU Constitution which the French and Dutch peoples voted down last year. Germany, which holds the EU presidency in the first half of 2007, is to produce a report this time next year. There will be a new French President after May 2007. The Presidents and Prime Ministers will work on a grand rhetorical statement for next year’s 50th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaty, which they hope may give a boost to the grand project.

Two different strategies are at play on the Constitution. One is based on maintaining it without any changes, continuing with the national ratifications and then pressuring the French and Dutch to accept the whole thing, like the Irish and Danes were pressurised into changing their minds when they dared to vote No. This would be done by calling it something other than a “Constitution”, and sugar-coating it in some undefined way to make it more acceptable to the French and Dutch. The other strategy is based on the notion that the first strategy will fail. Therefore the goal is to adopt the Constitution in bits and pieces, each one without national referendums.

The Euro-elite expect the French voters to change their mind after the Presidential elections in May next year. However, the last French opinion poll indicates that 10% of last year’s Yes-voters have regretted their votes whereas only 2 % of the No-sayers have done the same. The Dutch polls are even worse seen from the view of Constitution supporters. The Dutch Foreign Minister has stated that the Dutch will never ratify the same text again.

The existing European treaties require unanimity. Legally the proposed EU Constitution should therefore be regarded as dead until it may be formally amended. It is quite a serious matter that a cooperation based on law is in clear breach of the basic EU treaties. Continuing with the ratification process when the French and Dutch Governments have not indicated how they will ratify this treaty, or whether they will ever do that, is outrageousy undemocratic. How can EU Presidents, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers expect other people to follow EU law when they don’t respect the treaties themselves? This typifies the arrogance and contempt for democracy of the EU elite.

By Anthony Coughlan
Secretary of The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9; Tel: 00-353-1-8305792