France has some 61 million inhabitants. The enlarged EU some 451 million. In other words, about 1 in every 7.4 Europeans is a Fwenchman. Can someone please tell me then why the whole world was looking at France’s vote as if the frogs would decide the passing of the very first European Constitution all by themselves???
Anyway, Sunday’s voting was an important event indeed. After all, voting for the referendum does not take place in every EU member state. Take a look at the map: the countries in orange are where the constitution is ratified through a popular referendum. There are only 9 of them – out of a total of 25. In the remaining pink-colored countries, the constitution is ratified in Parliament. Check out David's Medienkritik to see how that happened in Germany.
Now take a closer look. You see a number of pink countries with a red mark: in those states, at the time the graph was printed, the document in question HAD ALREADY BEEN RATIFIED. We are talking about Italy, Spain, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece – together accounting for roughly 215 million Europeans!!! And, since a notorious collection of Belgian insomniacs sometimes referred to as MPs sluiced the dragon through the Belgian House of Representatives last week, in fact some 225 million Europeans – or 50% - have already "agreed" on the EU Constitution!
Why did the French "non" have such a profound impact then? Well, it’s the largest country yet where ratification is through the people’s will. France is a founding member of the EU – the greatest European thinker, hell, the European Father, Jean Monnet, was a Frenchman. All true. However, the main reason for the importance of the French vote is of course that it takes only ONE country to disagree to put the whole undertaking in jeopardy. Buried somewhere in the "constitution" is an article, more precisely Art. IV-443-3, dealing with the event that Europes Bill of Rights is not approved of. It stipulates:
"If, two years after the signature of the treaty amending this Treaty, four-fifths of the Member States have ratified it and one or more Member States have encountered difficulties in proceeding with ratification, the matter shall be referred to the European Council."
Those two years end on October 26, 2006.
Like someove or the other said, there is no Plan B. Basically, now already the collection of Euro elitists each on their own trying to tug at Europes rudder are clueless. Poland has to vote yet, the UK, but... there is already one member state which said "NO". France, with a whopping 54,87%. On Wednesday, June 1st, there may be a second: the Netherlands.
Hmpf. To give you an idea of how I am looking at the whole shenanigan: given the possibility to cast my vote (socialists and greens blocked that), it would in all likelihood have been a "NO" too. Those of you who have been around long enough to remember my early EU posts know I’m a European pur sang. To put it bluntly: I’m ALL for a European Superstate. I see it as the only way for us Europeans to matter in tomorrow’s world. Suggesting that we should remain as we are – a squabbling conglomerate of relatively small and simply small states, strong economically but inherently weak politically and militarily – makes as much sense to me as advocating that the US should go back to being just a loose confederation of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York etc… again. Utter nonsense in other words. Europe HAS to become truly unified, with member states subordinated to the supranational level. With one single President US-style. With a Congress-like Parliament. With a highest judiciary resembling the US’s. THAT’s what we need to move forward to. Of course, I would also want to see this Europe – the USE – as one leg of a Grand Transatlantic Alliance, with the USA being the other leg. I understand that is a scenario most Americans consider highly unlikely, given Europes disgusting show of cowardice and betrayal of the past years. But – I’m betting on a European Right getting stronger – which IS happening, make no mistake. And I’m betting on world events spurring us towards each other. I’m betting on the dynamics seen when people go to church again in times of war, if you get what I mean.
Now, this Constitution is meant as a step towards achieving that goal of a truly unified Europe. It calls a.o. for a fulltime post of President with a term of maximum 5 years, instead of the unwieldy, make that plains silly - six-month rotating presidencies. It will create the post of an EU Foreign Affairs Minister to present and defend a common European policy. It stipulates that the European Parliament must become a legislative power in its own right, approving all proposed EU laws.
Still I would vote "NO".
Because in my country, the job our politicians have done in explaining what the Constitution stood for and what it contains, was nonexistent. More, it was a disgusting show of utter disregard for what truly lives among Europeans. Here we have a 364-page document, plus 460 pages of annexes. 448 articles in all, and guess what? We, the John Q’s in the street, know Jack S. about it. Oh, there were fancy TV ads saying that if we voted "NO" it would open the doors again to Auschwitz and Treblinka. Oh, for the aficionados there are downloadable versions. If you are interested, this link might help. But hey, they can’t seriously expect from us to study that and comprehend it fully in so short a time since internet versions became available. Also, a turf like that is NO thing to carry around should you feel compelled to. 11 pages would come handier. So, do your homework better next time ladies and gentlemen politicians. Reduce the whole thing. Make it a transparent and easily readable document. Be honest: if you prepare a document – or a contract, treaty or whatever – the size of the Bible and expect people to approve it KNOWING FULL WELL that possibly only 1 in 500,000 Europeans, perhaps less – has actually read and understood the thing, how can you be surprised when people reject it???
Possibly you kidd yourself Europeans would vote "yes" because you have practically been pretending the Constitution is a Bible. Alas, no such luck guys. If you suggest at every occasion that in the case of a "no", "non", "nein", "nee" or "nej" you will still go ahead with the thing, you are not exactly doing wonders for your credibility – and for the credibility of your "Bible" neither, even if it is full of good intentions.
You wanna hear my advice eejits? Better no Consitution than a Bad Constitution. Even if I’m all for Europe, I suggest to blow off some steam and postpone the whole thing for two years. Forget that Oct 26 deadline. The line is dead already. Immediately start working on a decent paper. Make your aims honest and clear. Write something that fits in one’s backpocket. And stop thinking we are A-holes who will swallow everything just because you say it tastes good.
N.B.: for those who may have missed the link in the above post, you can find the proposed EU Constitution here.