Monday, May 23, 2005

Waiting for a "grand Non" 

If you don't succeed the first time, keep trying. Faced with the prospect of a "no" victory in the French EU constitution referendum, the Euro-elites consider resorting to the "one person, one vote, however many times it takes to get the outcome we want" model. After months of reassuring everyone that there was no plan B if the French reject the constitution - guess what? - there might indeed be a Plan B:
From July 1 Britain takes over the rotating six-monthly presidency of the EU from Luxembourg, whose foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, and his deputy, Nicolas Schmidt, have been instrumental in drafting the rescue plan… Under the plan, the treaty would be voted on again by the French after its ratification by all other EU states.
There is, however, some scope for democratic choice, but it has to be convincing enough:
If France votes against the treaty by a big majority, a possible outcome dubbed a "grand Non", many EU leaders accept that the constitution would in effect be dead, and it would be futile to try to shore it up with an emergency statement.
Elsewhere in Europe, it’s getting perverse, as it often does (so writes Daniel Hannan, a Conservative Member of European Parliament):
With a week to go before the French referendum, something strange is happening. Many British Euro-sceptics are praying for a "Oui", while Euro-enthusiasts are crossing their fingers for a "Non".

Both sides have a point. The sceptics have been slavering at the prospect of a British referendum. They believe it offers the prospect of catharsis after 30 years of pent-up frustration with the EU. A British "No", they argue, would be a rejection, not only of the constitution, but of every successive transfer of power to Brussels since the 1975 referendum. Pro-sovereignty campaigners were delighted when Tony Blair declared that the vote would really be about Britain's wider relationship with the EU, and mean to hold him to his word. In their ideal scenario, most or all the other countries would proceed with ratification and push ahead without Britain, thus catalysing a long-overdue renegotiation of our membership terms.

A French "Non", they fear, would deny us this opportunity. Although it might prevent the constitution's formal adoption, it would not prevent the implementation of the constitution's main provisions. The matter would be referred to an inter-governmental conference which would then re-adopt 95 per cent of the constitution's contents using the existing treaty structure.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, a restless campaigner for British independence, made this argument explicitly in the House of Lords on Thursday: "Eurosceptics must hope that the French vote 'Yes'," he told astonished peers. "Then we will have a referendum, and we will win it. Only thus can we be sure of starting the process of disengagement from the project."
As Hannan sums it up: "Across the EU (Norway and Switzerland don't have this problem) people feel let down by the political process. Turnout at elections is falling, and those who do vote are abandoning the established parties. Voters complain that, however they cast their ballot, nothing changes. And they are right: depending on how you measure it, between 50 and 80 per cent of national laws now emanate from the European Commission. On the rare occasions that national electorates get the opportunity, they tend to vote against closer integration; but their votes are ignored, which serves to increase their frustration."

As I've written yesterday, there are rumblings of change across the EU. When the democratic revolution hits the Western Europe, after sweeping Ukraine ("orange"), Georgia ("rose"), Iraq ("purple finger") and Lebanon ("cedar"), how shall we call it? Maybe just a "big middle finger"?


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?